A day after delivering a baby in March 2012, Sharmila Murmu appeared for her Higher Secondary examination at a school in Memari area of Bardhaman district.

When Baisakhi Devi, a teacher invigilating at the examination centre, saw her with a one-day-old infant, she reached out. Not only did she take care of the baby for the duration of the three-hour examination, she even breastfed the child.

Both women will be felicitated by the West Bengal Commission for Women this Friday on the occasion of International Women’s Day.

Speaking to The Hindu here on Thursday, Commission chairperson Sunanda Mukherjee said Ms. Murmu and Ms. Devi epitomise the strength, commitment and compassion inherent in women.

In December 2012, a man beheaded his sister in the Nadial police station area of Kolkata for allegedly having an extra-marital affair. Shabnam, who was present at the spot, did her best to prevent the murder. While trying to protect the victim, she was attacked by a sword and some of her fingers were chopped off. “The courage she showed needs to be recognised. While people talked about the heinous crime, the young woman’s attempt to save the victim has largely gone unnoticed,” Ms. Mukherjee said.

The Commission will also felicitate Chandra Rajwar who caught her molester who was trying to escape in Howrah district in December 2012. It will also felicitate Krishna Roy, a physically challenged woman who despite limited financial means teaches underprivileged children in the city for free.

“The stories of all these five women prove how ordinary women can exhibit exemplary courage, compassion and commitment amidst all odds. On International Women’s Day we want to celebrate the sprit of women,” Ms. Mukherjee said.