Ela Bhatt awarded Indira Gandhi peace prize for 2011

Ela Ramesh Bhatt, founder of women self-help group, the Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA), today received the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development for the year 2011. President Pranab Mukherjee conferred the award on Ela Bhatt at a function in the Rashtrapati Bhavan today.

Presenting the award, the president said Ela Bhatt's life and work truly reflected the philosophy and ideals espoused by late prime minister Indira Gandhi.

''The prize bestowed upon Ms Bhatt is a tribute to her unflinching zeal towards the betterment of women in society and progress of humanity,'' the president said, adding, ''Ms Bhatt's example would spur many more initiatives in our country and elsewhere, aimed at renewal of society and all-round development of people.''

He said, ''If women are under represented in the productive efforts of our economy, it is not only injudicious but also detrimental to the cause of social progress.''

The gender disparity can be remedied only through pro-active intervention in areas such as economic empowerment of women, building of adequate social and physical infrastructure and improving women's role in governance, he said.

Ela Bhatt created the Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA) in 1972, which has currently a membership in excess of 1.3 million. She also founded the SEWA Cooperative Bank in 1974, which has an outreach of 3 million women.