SOMERSET, NEW JERSEY
Actress and activist Shabana Azmi believes that no society can claim to be a progressive society until and unless the women in that society are given their worth, are empowered. “A health or wealth of a nation cannot be determined by its GDP alone, but by its human development, in which the empowering of women is a very important yardstick,” she said. Azmi was speaking at the Indian Academy Women Achievers Award, held March 26 at The Marigold here. Indian-American women from all walks of life, as well as student achievers were honored for their contributions in the field of medicine, performing arts, education, finance and social service.
Conceptualized by Vandana Krishna, director of Brainstorm Entertainment, the awards, an initiative of the Indian Academy Awards, aimed to share the success stories of real women to encourage and inspire the community here. “True stories of women entrepreneurs are an inspiration to change the world,” Krishna said. Today’s women are making the difference with their innovative ideas, seeking solutions and reclaiming their status as equals,” she said, adding, “We want to create a platform to honor these women and to share their success with the world.”
The IAA had invited Azmi’s NGO, Mijwan Welfare Society, to showcase the exquisite hand embroidery called Chikankari by the women of Mijwan. Along with honoring women achievers, the highlight of the evening was a fashion show by well-known designer Manish Malhotra, who showcased the ‘Mijwan Summer Couture 2017’. The fashion show was a fundraiser and the proceeds collected at the event were donated to the NGO to support education and empowerment of the girl child.
Malhotra has pulled women out of oblivion and brought their craft to the doorsteps of Bollywood by creating glamorous outfits in his signature style. By giving women gainful employment, he has given the women to negotiate more space for themselves within the family structure. Azmi said the show epitomizes the continuous realization of her father Kaifi Azmi’s vision and the wonderful legacy of hope for his village, Mijwan.
Azmi’s goddaughter, Namrata Goyal, who works actively for Mijwan, told the audience that Mijwan today is not only a story of the progress of a small village in India, but it’s also the story of women journeying on, past the patriarchal conforms of their society. “It’s the hope for a better tomorrow, beating in the hearts of rural women who have taken charge of their own destinies.”
Through this event, the IAA is gearing up for its flagship event to be held in the Bay Area this June. Earlier, the academy celebrated the first of its kind, The Indian Worldwide Academy and all that it stands for. The event was announced by superstar Shah Rukh Khan in Mumbai and the U.S. Consulate in Mumbai and in January it was launched by Madhuri Dixit in California. From exchanging cultures to building bridges for tourism, engaging cinema lovers to creating a platform to identify potential talent for the Indian film industry, the IAA, is a real-time celebration for cinema lovers, by cinema lovers and of cinema lovers across the world.
Managed by Asia’s largest production company Cineyug and choreographed by Shiamak Davar, this extravaganza, will bring the best of Hollywood, Bollywood and Tollywood together to create history in the entertainment world and will be hosted at the Oracle Arena in San Francisco.