Sonali Bendre

Actress Sonali Bendre Behl receives the ‘I Am Woman’ Award 2019 instituted by Educationist Karan Gupta. She becomes the third actress to be honored with the award. (photo provided)

MUMBAI— After Sushmita Sen and Sonam Kapoor, Sonali Bendre Behl becomes the third actress to be honored with the ‘I Am Woman’ award.

The ‘I am Woman’ awards, an initiative that celebrates the inspiration of women, was created by Harvard and IE alumnus Dr. Karan Gupta and IE Business School four years ago. This award is a movement that believes the fact that women are a reservoir of strength. On this platform every year, powerful women speak about their personal and professional lives, thereby inspiring others.

In its fourth edition, the I Am Woman awards once again celebrated and awarded women achievers for their extraordinary work, breaking the glass ceiling in their respective fields. The awardees this year also included entrepreneur and designer Neeta Lulla, activist Dr. Sindhutai Sakpal, Infosys Learning Head Kisha Gupta, Genesis co-founder Deepika Gehani, author Priya Kumar, activist and lawyer Deepika Singh Rajawat and activist Neehari Mandali.

The event was hosted by power women actress Manasi Joshi Roy and singer Manasi Scott alongside actors Rohit Roy, Tanuj Virwani and Parvin Dabas. Guests and celebrities at the prestigious award ceremony included Zayed Khan, Sulaiman Merchant, Aarti and Kailash Surendranath and Sandeep Soparrkar among others.

The ‘I Am Woman’ past honorees Krishika Lulla, Kiran Bawa, Maheka Mirpuri and Reshma Merchant were also present. The discussions this year ranged from empowering women in business to how women can create positive impact in their respective communities.

Bendre, who had undergone treatment for a high-grade cancer in New York and is back to work after a long hiatus, stated, “My mother always said that unless you are independently earning, do not get married. If you are not economically independent, you can never really stand up for yourself. Then it’s up to you if you want to give it up tomorrow. That’s different. That’s a choice you make. But you have to start out with being economically independent. Given that, there is always a kind of equality in your relationship.”

She added, “I always love awards as well as rewards, but awards are always special. And I think that the Karan Gupta Education Foundation is doing a lot of good work and this award means more especially because there is so much of good work going into it.”

The other awardees of this year also shared their honor and delight at receiving the award this year. In 2018, the ‘I Am Woman’ award was also given to Sushmita Sen, Tata Group industrialist Leah Tata, actress and RJ Malishka Mendonsa, activists Jyoti Dhawale and Preethi Srinivasan, advocate Abha Singh, artist and philanthropist Michelle Poonawalla, international-fame designer Falguni Shane Peacock, and entrepreneur Bhavna Jasra.

In 2017, the honorees included Amruta Fadnavis, Laxmi Agarwal, Gauri Sawant, Malini Agarwal, Shaheen Mistry and Krishika Lulla, while in 2016, the award was given to Sonam Kapoor, Reshma Merchant, Maheka Mirpuri, Raunaq Roy, Kiran Bawa, Nisha Jamvwal, Devita Saraf, Amrita Raichand, Rouble Nagi and Lucky Morani.

Said Dr. Karan Gupta, “The IE Business School and KGEF actively support and encourage women in business and have special scholarships for women. We recognize the challenges that women in business face and wish to support them in every way that we possibly can.”

One cannot help but think of a song that dates back to the 1970s: “I am a woman. Hear me roar, in numbers too big to ignore. If I have to, I can do anything. I am strong; I am invincible; I am a Woman.”

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