Teresa awards given away

Dr Sima Samar, a human and women's rights activist, and Pakistani education and women's activist Malala Yousafzai were among the many that received Mother Teresa International Award for Social Justice instituted by Harmony Foundation, this year.

The awards ceremony was held at Grand Hyatt hotel in Kalina on Wednesday. "I see a growing positive trend in Afghanistan. The number of women coming forward to make themselves heard is increasing every year," said Dr Samar, former deputy PM and minister of women's affairs of Afghanistan.

She is chairperson of Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC). Dr Samar said she was aware of the fact that many women in India diligently follow the burqa system, but said the burqa in Afghanistan was enforced.

She said AIHRC received 4,000 complaints of domestic violence this year alone. "I have had many honours in my life, but few can compare with presenting this award to a woman who I am absolutely sure will go on to become president of Afghanistan one day. She symbolises the spirit of liberation and indomitable courage," said Congress leader Mani Shankar Iyer.

Malala was unable to attend the ceremony as she is still recovering from a near-fatal attack by the Taliban earlier this year.

Her father sent this message, "This award means a lot to us, especially during this time of crisis. I regret I could not come personally, I need to be at Malala's side. She sends her thanks to all her Indian friends."

On Malala's behalf the award was accepted Sevy Ali, a British film producer of Pakistani origin. IPS officer Sanjeev Bhatt of Gujarat was given a special award, as were several NGOs working in various fields.

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