A Tale of Two Women of Substance

The media is abuzz with Priyanka Chopra winning Padma Shri, one of India’s highest civilian award. Excelling professionally, taking India to the global stage and advocating the rights of women and children, she deserves to be on the list for sure. Proud as we are of Pee Cee, we are reminded of another woman who is also among the list of recipients of the award this year – Hyderabad-based social activist Sunitha Krishnan.

Interestingly, there’s much in common among these two, other than receiving Padma Shri in the same year. Both Priyanka and Dr Krishnan are strong women, whose stories embody grit, determination and a firm resolve to work for the betterment of the society continuously. In their respective areas of work, the two of them are looked upon as professionals par excellence. In their own way, they have helped put India on the global map, being part of exciting international projects.

Priyanka has done this through working on American television, and wowing the world with her beauty, intelligence and acting prowess. For Dr Krishnan, this was done by working with several international organisations, including the United Nations and the Department of Justice, United States of America. She has inspired a bunch of young Americans to steer clear of the sex trade industry and to get into activism. She is known to lead USA’s first statewide campaign against sex trafficking, and for giving out the slogan ‘Real Men Don’t Buy Sex’.

No wonder that both of these women have won a bunch of international awards and titles along with the various honours bestowed upon them in India. Pee Cee has been Miss World 2000 and Miss World Continental Queen of Beauty—Asia & Oceania 2000. Subsequently, she has been on lists like ‘World’s Sexiest Asian Women’ and ‘Most Powerful Women in the world’. She has even won awards like GQ Women of the Year, and was the first South Asian actress to win People’s Choice Award earlier this year.

The feathers in Dr Krishnan’s cap are no less pride-inducing. Honours conferred upon her include the Ashoka Fellowship, Stree Shakti Puraskar from Government of India, CNN-IBN Real Hero Award, Tejaswini Award from FICCI, Indiavision Person of the Year Award, G8 Woman of the Year for 2011 and Mother Teresa Award for Social Justice. The international titles won by her include Perdita Huston International Award for Human Right given out by United Nations, Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report Heroes of the US Department of State, John Jay College of Criminal Justice International Leadership Award, Living Legends Award from Human Symphony Foundation and People of the Year award from LIMCA Book of Records.

Interestingly, both of them are also connected by being strong campaigners for women’s rights. Dr Krishnan has been working on rescuing and rehabilitating girls and women from the flesh trade. Through her NGO Prajwala, she also works towards preventing girls from economically weak background in Hyderabad’s red light district from being lured into sex work. Meanwhile, Miss Chopra has worked as UNICEF’s brand ambassador for child’s rights as well as that of the ‘Save the Girl Child’ campaign. She is an advocate of gender equality, and has repeatedly voiced her opinion on gender pay inequality.

Piggy Chops is known to light up the silver screen with her portrayal of several women of substance. Dr Krishnan has inspired the protagonist of Malayalam filmmaker Vineeth Sreenivasan’s movie ‘Thira’. In fact, the social worker has been involved in the making of her fair share of movies. She has made a number of short films on topics relating to the youth as well as those focused on raising awareness about the damages done through flesh trade.

The tech savvy actress had been known for making good use of her social media skills, where she gets all the support from her fans. Dr Krishnan has also used these platforms well, even to raise funds for some of her projects. A few months ago, a very successful campaign to gather support for Prajwala’s rehabilitation center was run on US-based crowdfunding platform Crowdera and supported by hundreds of believers all over the globe and by major Foundations such as ASSET India Foundation. To raise the last bit of funding required to complete construction of the shelter home, Prajwala has joined hands with Crowdera and ASSET India Foundation once again. They are inviting volunteers to join their mission. More information on the fundraising page.

We are thrilled at such women of substance getting their due recognition and admiration from the society. Here’s wishing they inspire an entire generation of women to aspire more, strive harder and work towards achieving the goals they set for themselves.