Ela Bhatt selected for Indira Gandhi Prize

New Delhi: Renowned social activist Ela Bhatt was today selected for the prestigious Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development 2011 for her lifetime achievements in empowering women through grassroots entrepreneurship.

Bhatt, who is the founder of NGO Self-Employed Women`s Association (SEWA), was selected for the award constituted by Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust by an international jury headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Announcing the award, Trust Secretary Suman Dubey said Bhatt`s life is a lesson in dedication and commitment, in caring for the under-privileged and weak, in devoting oneself to the welfare of others, in living by principles and making a difference to the lives of millions.

Bhatt has been selected for the award for her "lifetime achievements in comprehensively empowering women in India and elsewhere through grassroots entrepreneurship, access to shelter, healthcare, micro-finance, micro-insurance, skills, legal services, collective bargaining power and many other means, and thereby promoting equitable development and peace, following Gandhian path of self reliance and non-violence", he said.

A labour lawyer by training, Bhatt founded the SEWA in 1972 and under her leadership, the NGO has grown into a 13 lakh strong organisation playing a pioneering role in socio-economic and political empowerment of women.

Bhatt, founder of the SEWA Cooperative Bank, the first women`s bank in India, is also one of the dozen global leaders who constitute `The Elders`, set up at the initiative of Nelson Mandela in 2007 to promote human rights and peace.