It’s the worst of times. It’s the best of times. History tells us that the status of women in India has always yo-yoed. We started out on a high note in the ancient ages but saw a decline in status from medieval times, when a life of restrictions became the order of the day. The harassment refuses to go away. In 2018, India was ranked by the Thomson Reuters Foundation as the worst country in which to be a woman. Except for those with special access to privilege—and even they’re not immune to silent sexism—life for the Indian woman is tough, very tough. And yet, she perseveres. She seeks to live the life that’s promised to her by the Constitution, a life of equality, dignity and freedom from discrimination. Not just as a mother, wife, daughter or sister, but also as an individual working for something that excites her. She understands that victory is sweetest after the taste of defeat. And, sometimes, just sometimes, through hard work, ingenuity and an indomitable spirit, she beats the odds and gives the world a success story to celebrate.
It is this dynamism and never-say-die spirit that The Sunday Standard honours through its Devi Awards. The awards are designed to pay tribute to the exceptional women who, through their work in different sectors, are helping to build the backbone of the nation. We began the process in New Delhi in December 2014, and have since paid tribute to achievers from around the country. On September 14, 2018, we celebrated the wonderful women of Uttar Pradesh. It was the fourth edition of the awards in the state, and the 14th in the country.