UN Women and Ford Foundation honour women leaders in new book

Celebrating 75 Indian women leaders on International Women’s Day 2024


Photo: UN Women/Daniel Ginsianmung
(L-R) Representatives from Ford Foundation, women leaders featured in the book, and UN representatives in India at the Hum: When Women Lead Coffee Table book launch in the UN House, New Delhi on 12th March 2024. Photo: UN Women/Daniel Ginsianmung | To watch the recording [click here]

New Delhi, India — To mark International Women’s Day 2024, UN Women India and the Ford Foundation launched a captivating coffee table book titled “हम | When Women Lead.” The book features the extraordinary journeys of 75 women leaders from diverse backgrounds across India, who have transcended barriers, defied limits, and made a lasting impact on their communities.

"हम | When Women Lead" is a tribute, not just to the resilient spirit of women leaders in India - but their concrete contributions to nation building.

Coinciding with India's G20 Presidency in 2023, which emphatically focused on women-led development, this project is not just a collection of stories; it's an examination of women's leadership as a key trigger of social transformation and progress.

The book also spotlights the critical importance of investing in women's empowerment and leadership.

“Investing in gender equality and women’s empowerment is not only a moral obligation but also an economic imperative. Currently, our global economic system is failing women on multiple fronts. Financial investment in women remains low, with an additional USD 360 billion needed annually to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality and women’s empowerment. Moreover, only 4 per cent of official development assistance is dedicated to gender equality programmes,” said Susan Ferguson, Country Representative, UN Women India.

Investing in women benefits not only women themselves but also society. Closing gender employment gaps could increase GDP per capita by 20 per cent across all regions. “Additionally, investing in care services, such as daycare and elderly care, not only reduces unpaid care work predominantly done by women but also creates decent work opportunities, potentially generating almost 300 million jobs by 2035,” added Ms Ferguson.

Keeping with the spirit of women’s leadership, the book was put together by an all-women team of writers, photographers, visual artists, and editors under the editorial leadership of noted feminist writer Ms. Urvashi Butalia.

Many of the women leaders featured in the book attended the event and spoke about their journeys. Rejection from people is my power. It took me a lot of time to claim my right to education. Investing in education and health for disabled community is the need of the hour," Meenu Arora Mani, a 47-year-old woman, founder director of an NGO “Yes We Can” for people with disabilities.

Drishana Kalita, founder of ‘Puppet People’ in Assam, talked about using puppetry “to actively raise awareness about the perils of early marriage, the importance of girls’ education, gender equality, and gender-based violence.”

“Our stories are multilayered, our identity is multilayered, and our solutions must be multilayered too. Investing in education and healthcare can change the narrative of this community,” said Swati Singh, Founder and Director of Muheem that works with marginalised communities in the rural areas of Banaras, Uttar Pradesh.The book launch was accompanied by a photo exhibition on the grounds of UN House, New Delhi, showcasing the work of the 75 women leaders featured in the book.


Live streaming/Recording

Hum: When Women Lead; Book Launch

About UN Women

UN Women is the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress in meeting their needs worldwide.

For interviews with senior UN Women officials or speakers at the events please contact:

Daniel Ginsianmung
Communications Officer, UN Women
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Nilanjana Bhowmick
Lead – Content, UN Women
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