The CII Foundation was set up by CII in 2011 to undertake a wide range of developmental and charitable activities.

Three Women Exemplars, working at the grassroot level, who have contributed significantly in the fields of Education, Health and Micro-Enterprise were presented with the Award by  Anand Sharma, Minister of Commerce & Industry, Government of India.

In the category of Education, the Award was conferred to Kalpana Gagdekar for her outstanding accomplishment in regaining dignity and hope for her community of ‘denotified and nomadic tribes’ and for inspiring completely neglected sections of the society to strive, succeed and restore their rights. She chose theatre as her weapon to depict cases of injustice thus changing the hearts of her audiences through every performance. She took up the brave fight in Maninagar in Ahmedabad, to protect the children of the tribals settled there, and won the fight right up to the Supreme Court enabling the children to continue with their education.

She teaches children at the Budhan Theatre on how arts can transform their lives. Despite becoming a leading threatre and TV artist in Gujarat, Kalpana continues her work with the poorest of the poor and gives hope and dignity to the discriminated denotified and nomadic tribes.

In the category of Health, the CII Foundation Woman Exemplar Award 2014 was conferred to Lata Mane for her catalytic efforts in bringing hope, inspiration, confidence and dignity to Female Sex Workers by fighting social stigma and creating awareness on HIV-AIDS prevention in the slum areas of Ghatkopar, Mumbai city.

Her project encompasses health education, stigma reduction and psychological support to the Female Sex Workers living with HIV/AIDS. She educates them on sexual & reproductive health, motivating them for safer sexual practices as well as for availing clinical facilities regularly. Lata also helps them to engage in income generating activities through forming Self Help Groups and also availing bank linkages. Today she has formed 20 such Self Help Groups.

Lata is also engaged with her NGO in a Clean Mumbai Project wherein she supervises cleaning of community area and educating the public on maintaining clean surroundings

Through her relentless efforts, she has been able to reach out to more than 500 Female Sex Workers in mobilizing the community for collective action against stigma and discrimination.

In the category of Micro-Enterprise, the Award was conferred to Devti Baiga for her transformational leadership in enabling better livelihoods, independence and financial security for women, particularly among the Baiga tribal community in the core area of Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh.

Devti’s work encompasses supporting tribal communities’ access alternative livelihoods in the peripheral villages of the Bandhavgarh National Park. She operates through Self Help Groups (SHG) where the entrepreneurial activities are encouraged. Her project motivates beneficiaries to adopt System of Rice Intensification (SRI) method in a variety of cultivation including cash crop and more broadly the organic way of cultivation. The project has helped the community in sourcing financial assistance for agri inputs as well as gaining access to the existing public welfare schemes.

For a woman who was struggling to make ends meet for her family, her efforts have transformed lives of 700 households in six villages.

This Award has been institutionalized to promote women’s empowerment at the community level by discovering and recognizing those who have, against all odds, excelled and contributed significantly to positively impact the community. So far 30 Women have been felicitated with this Award.

This year the Award was brought under the aegis of the CII Foundation and is called “CII Foundation Woman Exemplar Awards”. Bajaj Group is the presenting Partner and HSBC is the contributing partner of the Award.

The CII Foundation was set up by CII in 2011 to undertake a wide range of developmental and charitable activities and initiatives pan India by enabling Industry for infusing inclusive development.

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