Anita Sen Memorial Award

The ethos of Udyogini is a fundamental belief in women’s empowerment and capacity to be leaders. The Anita Sen Memorial Award is given annually to disadvantaged women who have overcome odds to build an enterprise that is of direct benefit to them, and have consistently displayed the ideals of Anita Sen, in whose memory the Award was instituted. Anita was Udyogini’s Program Coordinator when she died in a rail accident, in September 2002 on her way back from Udyogini’s program area in Orissa.

The values that guide the selection of the recipients are: Sensitivity to society, Unselfishness and Selflessness; Simplicity; Sincerity; Determination and Courage; Being forthright; Being critically reflective and also open to criticism; and Care for the smallest thing. This award is given annually to women or women’s groups for demonstrating their courage, determination, sensitivity to society and being critically reflective. A Committee has been constituted to determine the focus, criteria, and process as well as to select the awardees.

The Anita Sen Memorial Award for the year 2016 was awarded to Babita Devi from Gumla district, Parmeshwari Devi from Bundu district and Amrita Devi from Tamar district for their contribution in enterprise domain and acted as role models for other women. 17 other women who have demonstrated the spark in the field of enterprise and entrepreneurship were awarded under “Women Entrepreneurship Award Program”.

The 10th Anita Sen Memorial Award for the year 2018 was awarded to five rural women representing five states of Udyogini work areas. The five women are Anita Parte from Madhya Pradesh, Maneki Kureti from Chattisgarh, Chandrapant from Uttrakhand, Taron Dudrai from Jharkhand and Varju Bai from Rajasthan. All five women come from very poor family backgrounds that did not have much choice but to fight all the odds, social norms and came out as winner- became self-employed. All of them made many personal sacrifices in order to support their own families and community around them put them on a different pedestal. All of them have become role model in their own society and are able to inspire many more women to become self-sufficient, entrepreneur and an active member in decision-making process.

In 2013 Anita Sen Memorial Award was awarded to Kokila Devi of village Aman baru, Bandu, Jharkhand.

In 2011 Anita Sen Memorial Award was presented to Saraswati Devi from a village in Bundu, Jharkhand for her entrepreneurship skills in running and growing her social business of a village level service center for: retail of consumption goods; forest produce aggregation, value addition and marketing; and a knowledge service in the form of a library. Saraswati Devi, one of the VLSC entrepreneurs from Bundu block, Jharkhand also received a citation instituted by a leading Hindi newspaper ‘Dainik Jagran’ for her innovation, skills and contribution to the society through her VLSC. The award were given by the Governor of Jharkhand in a ceremony in Ranchi. During the award ceremony, also recognised were 10 progressive women farmers for their excellence in the field of lac production.

In 2010, Maa Mansa Mahila Samiti, Ranchi and Tailyang Shanti from Arunanchal Pradesh have been awarded the Anita Sen Memorial Award for their noteworthy contribution in entrepreneurial activity and in addressing social needs. They have received a cheque of Rs.25000 with a credential of appreciation from Udyogini.

In 2009, the process was changed to honor even larger numbers of disadvantaged women. Two previous awardees, Kasturba NariSangha and Maa Ambika Nari Sangha of Orissa, were given the fund to give smaller awards for deserving SHGs in their area. Forty-six deserving savings and credit groups of Sambalpur and Dhenkanal districts were honored with a certificate and a token cash prize.

In 2007, N. Bhuvaneswari was selected for the award in recognition of her services to the Tsunami-affected people of Nagapattinam. Mr. Mani Shankar Aiyar, the then Minister of Panchayati Raj, presented the award to Bhuvaneswari at a function in Poompuhar, Tamil Nadu.

In 2006, the award went to one individual (Laxmi Jain, working with SevaMandir, Old Fatehpura, Udaipur, Rajasthan) and one group (Ma Ambika Nari Sangha, of Asha, Dhenkanal, Orissa). The function was organized in Delhi in conjunction with an event of SEWA Bharat (founded by Ela Bhatt) and the awards were presented by Nalini Nayak, Secretary, SEWA Bharat.


In 2005, Ms. ManishaVaria, from Bhasha Research Center, working in Tejgarh, Vadodara district, Gujarat was selected for the award. The award presentation was held in Tejgarh, where the Awardee lives and works.

In 2004, the first Anita Sen Memorial Award, was given to three individuals (from Rajasthan, Karnataka and Kerala) and one group from Orissa. The awards were presented by Ela Bhatt, founder, SEWA, Ahmedabad and a founding member of Udyogini, at a function on 13th March 2004, in New Delhi.

Tejo Devi of Bihar, who was a finalist in 2004 for the Anita Sen Memorial Award. The recognition and publicity brought Tejo Devi to the attention of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Tejo Devi went on to receive the first CII Women Exemplar Award in 2005.