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Pink E-Rickshaw Driver From Uttar Pradesh Wins UK’s Royal Award

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Arti met King Charles III at Buckingham Palace after she collected the award in London.

London:

 An 18-year-old rickshaw driver from a village in Bahraich district of Uttar Pradesh is overjoyed on meeting King Charles III at Buckingham Palace after she collected a prestigious women’s empowerment award in London this week.

Arti received the Amal Clooney Women’s Empowerment Award, named after the world-renowned human rights barrister, at the Prince’s Trust Awards in London followed by a meeting with the 75-year-old monarch on Wednesday.

She was honoured for inspiring other young girls through her work with the government’s Pink E-rickshaw initiative, which provides safe transport for other women with a mission to drive change, quite literally.

“I take pride in being able to inspire other girls who face similar challenges. This newfound independence has allowed me to see the world in a different light. Now, I am able to fulfil not only my dreams but also those of my daughter,” said Arti, who has a five-year-old daughter for whom she has bought some cake and a pair of shoes on her very first visit to London.

“It has been an unbelievably amazing experience, meeting the King who was so nice and sent his namaste to my family back home too. He also listened carefully as I spoke about how much I love driving my e-rickshaw, which does not run on polluting diesel or petrol but one that I charge at home every night,” she shared, speaking in Hindi.

Founded by King Charles when he was the Prince of Wales, the Prince’s Trust International will now transform into the King’s Trust International as it continues its work supporting young people across 20 countries through employment, education and enterprise programmes. The Prince’s Trust women’s empowerment award recognises the global work of young women who have succeeded against the odds and made a lasting difference to those around them.

“This year’s winner, Arti, is an inspirational example of someone whose trailblazing work in a typically male arena makes women in her community safer. Arti is determined to create a world where her daughter will not face the obstacles that she has faced, and she is already making a difference through her example,” said Amal Clooney, the British activist-barrister after whom the award is named.

For the reception at Buckingham Palace, Arti arrived in a pink rickshaw – showcasing it not only as a sustainable mode of transport but also an idea and a movement.

In July 2023, Project Lehar, delivered in partnership with Prince’s Trust International and the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF), introduced Arti to the Indian government’s Pink E-Rickshaw scheme, an initiative aimed at empowering women and expanding their income earning opportunities across the country. Under the innovative scheme, pink e-rickshaws were provided by the Bahraich district administration with a subsidy for women drivers.

The scheme aims to increase employment opportunities for vulnerable women, especially widows and single mothers like Arti, while also improving women’s access to safe transport, thereby increasing their mobility and independence.

“Arti truly embodies the courage, perseverance and determination to succeed against all odds, emerging as a role model for women in her village. We are immensely grateful for our partnership with the Prince’s Trust International that has enabled us to support young women to realise their dreams and aspirations. Here’s to many more Arti’s – believe in yourself, and never let anything dim the light of your ambitions,” said Tinni Sawhney, CEO of AKF (India), who accompanied Arti to the award ceremony and also helped interpret for her.

Will Straw, CEO of the Prince’s Trust International, added: “I am so proud of Arti on winning this year’s women’s empowerment award. She is breaking societal barriers and setting an example through her strength and determination.

“Our work in India gives young people the opportunity to build valuable life skills and find meaningful work. Through Project Lehar and our partnerships with the Aga Khan Foundation, we will continue supporting young women to achieve their ambitions.”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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