Business leaders in India win UN Women awards for empowering women amid the pandemic


[Press release]

Author: Pritha Banerjee

New Delhi, India -- Twenty-one private companies in India have received UN Women’s Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) Awards for their exemplary company policies to promote gender equality amid the COVID-19 threat.

UN Women presented the awards in a virtual ceremony on December 1 via the UN Women India Facebook page. The first-place winners in each of the six categories qualify for the Asia-Pacific regional awards ceremony to be held on 15 December in Bangkok.

UN Women’s WeEmpowerAsia programme, funded by the European Union, launched its inaugural Asia-Pacific WEPs Awards this year to encourage businesses to take more visible steps to open opportunities for women in the workplace and inspire other businesses to do the same.

WeEmpowerAsia received 150 applications for the awards from 91 companies in India. The top winners were Kariwala Industries for the Leadership Commitment category; Silvery Nanos Innovations for Youth Leadership; IKEA (India) for Gender-Responsive Workplace; Sodexo India Services for Gender-Responsive Marketplace; NatWest India for Community and Industry Leadership; and 24[7].ai for COVID-19 Action.

During the ceremony, Renata Lok-Dessallien, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in India, called the private sector a valuable ally in efforts to achieve gender equality.

Women have been on the front lines of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic yet still face restrictions on employment, she said.

“We firmly believe that the faster Indian businesses start to close the gender gap, the faster India’s economy will start to recover,” she added.

Amitabh Kant, Chief Executive Officer of NITI Aayog and one of the WEPs Awards judges from India, spoke about the importance of the private sector in promoting inclusive economic growth and of women taking leadership positions in businesses and of participating in India’s labour force.

“The private sector is an important partner in building an equitable workforce and the Women’s Empowerment Principles provides a crucial framework for business entities,” Kant said. “This framework is important to ensure that both men and women can contribute equally in the workplace.”

Deepak Premnarayen, Chairperson of the Business Sector Advisory Council of UN Women India, said the council is helping female entrepreneurs of small and medium-sized enterprises join in supply chains.

Ugo Astuto, Ambassador of the EU delegation to India, said, “Gender equality is not only the right thing to do but also the smart thing to do. When more women work, economies grow and the positive effects benefit everyone.”

Susan Ferguson, UN Women India Country Representative, said, “If we had more women in leadership positions in the private sector, this would improve their lives and the lives of their families immediately, while also driving economic growth for everyone.”

Here is the full list of WEPs Awards winners for each category:

Leadership Commitment
Winner: Kariwala Industries (Anil Kariwala, CEO)
1st Runner Up: Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories (Srividya Ramakrishnan, Chief Diversity Officer)
2nd Runner Up: The Integrated Penguin (Divya Hegde, Founder and CEO)
Generation Equality Champion: Skilled Samaritan Foundation (Gauri Gopal, Director and Founder)

Youth Leadership
Winner: Silvery Nanos Innovations, LLP (Divya Rathod, Founder)
1st Runner Up: AquaKraft Projects Pvt. Ltd. (Chinmayee Kusnur, Founder-Khadi Sustainability Initiative)
2nd Runner Up: RealShePower, Pvt. Ltd. (Pragya Singh, CEO and Founder)

Gender-Responsive Workplace
Winner: IKEA India Pvt. Ltd
1st Runner Up: Biocon Ltd
2nd Runner Up: Capgemini Technology Services India Pvt. Ltd

Gender-Responsive Marketplace
Winner: Sodexo India Services Pvt. Ltd
1st Runner Up: Sony Pictures Network India Pvt. Ltd
2nd Runner Up: Biocon Ltd.
Generation Equality Champion: MITHILAsmita Art & Craft Pvt. Ltd

Community & Industry Engagement
Winner: NatWest India
1st Runner Up: Tata Power Delhi Distribution Ltd
2nd Runner Up: AWE Fund

COVID-19 Action
Winner: 24[7].ai
1st Runner Up: DCM Shriram Ltd
2nd Runner Up: Tata Power Delhi Distribution Ltd.
Generation Equality Champion: Skilled Samaritan Foundation

The ceremony was concluded by Ms. Nishtha Satyam, Deputy Country Representative at UN Women India where she shared her thoughts on next steps and taking the WEA programme forward. “The big change that we’re seeing in this part of the world is really the ushering in of the private sector as an equal stakeholder to development; as the engine of growth in a way that it intersects people, profit and policy.”

For more information, please contact:

Suhela Khan
Country Programme Manager, WeEmpowerAsia
UN Women India
Email: [ Click to reveal ]

About WeEmpowerAsia
WeEmpowerAsia is a UN Women programme funded by the European Union that seeks to increase the number of women who lead and participate in business in China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam. For more information, visit