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  • Chennai’s transgender rights activist Grace Banu wins Martha Farrell Awards 2022

    Published on November 25, 2022

    – Grace is the winner of the 6th Martha Farrell Awards for Excellence in Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality and was felicitated in a ceremony in New Delhi recently

    Chennai’s Grace Banu was awarded the Martha Farrell Award 2022 for her contributions to the transgender community.

    Grace Banu is India’s first transgender engineer and transgender rights activist. She is the founder of Transgender Rights Now Collective, a Dalit Bahujan Adivasi-centered organisation focused on working towards equal opportunities for transgender persons in education, employment, leadership and horizontal representation across sectors. Grace is also the founder of the Manthithope Milk Cooperative Society with 29 other trans persons, the first transgender-run milk cooperative society in India.

    To forward the work of the Collective and in line with her personal mission, Grace has filed 20+ writ petitions with the Madras High Court to enable access to education and employment for transgender persons. In addition, she has liaised with 5 District Collectors in Tamil Nadu to ensure that HIV+ persons could access essential medication during the COVID-19 lockdown. Under her leadership, the collective has facilitated the entry of transgender persons into medical, police and engineering studies.

    “Our collective wants to ensure a discrimination and violence-free society for all transgender persons and that every transgender person can live a life of dignity, with access to education, employment and meaningful representation through horizontal reservation for transgender persons, in every professional field or sector. We believe this recognition will help further drive the message home to the masses,” said Grace Banu on receiving the prestigious award.

    Martha Farrell Foundation (MFF), Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA), and Rural Development Trust (RDT) successfully held the 6th edition of the Martha Farrell Award for Excellence in Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality at India International Center, New Delhi, on Saturday. The ceremony was attended by eminent professionals from various fields, including media, academia and civil society.

    The award felicitated and recognised individuals and institutions who have made significant contributions and worked consistently to promote women’s empowerment or gender equality within the workplace, at home, in communities, educational institutions, society, and more.

    The Awardees were chosen from over 200 nominations by an eminent jury comprising 6 members; Dr Rajesh Tandon (Founder President of PRIA and Chairperson of Martha Farrell Foundation), Dr Pankaj Mittal (Secretary General of the Association of Indian Universities), Feisal Alkazi (Author, Activist and Theater Person), Namita Bhandare (Journalist and Writer), Deepthi Bopaiah (CEO of GoSports Foundation) and Moncho Ferrer (Director of Programs at Rural Development Trust).

    Alongside Grace, Bangalore’s Meghana Srinivas, won the Special Jury Award (Individual Category), and Kerala’s Archana Women’s Centre was awarded the Best Organisation for Gender Equality

    Congratulating the winners, Nandita Bhatt, Director of the Martha Farrell Foundation, said: “In our winners, we see the embodiment of Martha Farrell’s vision of a gender-just society where everyone has equal rights, equal opportunity, equal representation and above all else, acceptance of differences.”

    “These awards are our way of carrying her legacy forward by rewarding and supporting those individuals and organisations who are working tirelessly to address women empowerment and gender equality,” she added.


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