• Thursday, June 13, 2024


Arti, rickshaw driver from Indian village, wins UK’s royal award

Arti, from India’s Uttar Pradesh state, was awarded the Amal Clooney Women’s Empowerment Award at the Prince’s Trust Awards in London.

Arti was recognised for inspiring other young girls through her work with the government’s Pink E-rickshaw initiative.

By: Vivek Mishra

An 18-year-old rickshaw driver from a village in India met King Charles at Buckingham Palace after receiving a prestigious women’s empowerment award in London this week.

Arti, from Bahraich district in India’s Uttar Pradesh state, was awarded the Amal Clooney Women’s Empowerment Award at the Prince’s Trust Awards in London. She then met the 75-year-old monarch on Wednesday.

She was recognised for inspiring other young girls through her work with the government’s Pink E-rickshaw initiative, which aims to provide safe transport for women and drive change.

“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.

She has a five-year-old daughter and bought her a cake and shoes during her 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 added, speaking in Hindi.

Founded by King Charles when he was the Prince of Wales, the Prince’s Trust International will now become the King’s Trust International, continuing its support for 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.

At the Buckingham Palace reception, Arti arrived in a pink rickshaw, showcasing it as a sustainable mode of transport 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. The Bahraich district administration provided pink e-rickshaws with a subsidy for women drivers.

The scheme aims to increase employment opportunities for vulnerable women, especially widows and single mothers like Arti, while improving women’s access to safe transport, 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 helped interpret for her.

Will Straw, CEO of the Prince’s Trust International, added: “I am so proud of Arti for 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.”


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