Friday, 1 February 2019

Girl power for grown-ups: nari shakti 2018 Hindi Word of the Year

The Oxford Dictionaries Hindi Word of the Year is a word or expression that has attracted a great deal of attention and reflects the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the past year.  Oxford Dictionaries has just announced the 2018 Hindi Word of the Year. It is: nari shakti.

Nari shakti expresses the increasing activism of women in various fields.

Derived from Sanskrit, nari means women and shakti means power.  Today the term is used to  mean  women taking charge of their own lives - so girl power, for grown-ups.

Nari shakti drew focused attention in 2018, largely thanks to efforts by the Government of India and Hindi speakers nationwide to realize aims for inclusive development.  This led to new initiatives being established, existing laws being revised, and the championing of the #MeToo campaign which helped facilitate women’s rights and empowerment across all areas of Indian society.

March 2018 recorded a large spike in the use of nari shakti as discussion arose around the Government of India’s Nari Shakti Puraskar (Women Power Award) held on International Women’s Day.  Recognizing exceptional achievement by women who have broken stereotypes and chartered new paths in their contributions to society, the awards set the tone for the rest of the year with nari shakti gaining greater momentum.

Two major decisions taken by the Indian Supreme Court also significantly contributed to nari shakti’s prominence in 2018: a ban on ‘triple-taliq’, the controversial Islamic practice of ‘instant divorce’, and the taking down of a rule that disallowed girls and women entry to the Sabarimala temple in Kerala.  Other impactful changes included the lifting of the ban on women going to Haj without a Mehram, or male companion, women being accepted into inter-combat roles in the armed forces, the expansion of the hugely successful government sponsored Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao (Save the girl child, Educate the girl child) campaign, the opening of 200 one-stop centres to help women facing violence across the country, and the opening of a universal helpline dedicated to forming international alliances to tackle cybercrime and the online harassment of women head-on.

In 2018, there is no question that nari shakti has risen to effect change, working to enshrine women’s rights and ensure that all women across the Hindi-speaking world and beyond are empowered.

Oxford Dictionaries Language Champion, Kritika Agrawal, says: “Nari shakti, or women power, is reflective of the renewed power of women that came to the fore in 2018.  It is representative of the courage that women derived and the feeling of sisterhood which was stronger than ever before.  It is a sentiment, and that sentiment is being carried forward in 2019.  Nari shakti is a movement involving both men and women, and a reminder that we need to keep fighting the good fight.”