Meeto memorial Award 2016 awarded to Jayanthi Kuru-Utumpala and Wasfia Nazreen
Meeto Memorial Award 2016
Meeto Memorial Award for Young South Asians
The Meeto Memorial Award for Young South Asians was established in 2009 in memory of Meeto Bhasin Malik. Meeto was a young dancer, human rights activist, and scholar. What was remarkable about Meeto was her commitment to social justice and peace. She was pursuing her PhD at Baliol College, Oxford when, at the age of 27, she passed on. Her mother Kamla Bhasin instituted this award in Meeto’s memory and it has been given seven times thus far.
This year’s Meeto Memorial Award for Young South Asians will honour Jayanthi Kuru-Utumpala and Wasfia Nazreen.
Jayanthi Kuru-Utumpala, a committed feminist and gender rights activist, has just become the first person from Sri Lanka to climb Mount Everest. Wasfia Nazreen has been involved in development, research, advocacy, human rights and environmental issues for over a decade. She is the only Bangladeshi to have climbed the seven summits, the seven highest peaks in each continent.
Jayanthi and Wasfia have both challenged and overcome traditional myths that state that women cannot undertake physically rigorous challenges like mountain climbing by climbing the most difficult peaks in the world. Both of these women are also fierce advocates of feminism and gender equality.
Wasfia Nazreen has been involved in development, research, advocacy, human rights and environmental issues for over a decade. After several years of working on women's rights, striving primarily to end violence against women in her home country and beyond, she today uses sports diplomacy to bring critical attention to communities that need it the most.
Her foundation in the making, Ösel, aspires to empower girls in Bangladesh and Nepal through outdoor education. She is the first Bangladeshi and only Bengali in the world to have climbed the Seven Summits, the highest mountain of every continent, and this feat she dedicated to her country's women. In 2014, Nazreen was honored by National Geographic as an Adventurer for her activism and commitment to empowering women through her work in the field of adventure. In 2016, Nazreen was chosen as a National Geographic Emerging Explorer, becoming the first female to hold both adventurer and explorer titles in the Society. Nazreen has been an advocate for One Billion Rising in Bangladesh from its inception.
Jayanthi Kuru-Utumpala is an exemplary woman and mountaineer. She has been a professional rock climbing instructor since 2003, while simultaneously working as a full-time women’s rights activist. Jayanthi’s career has involved working with women’s rights organizations in Sri Lanka. This has provided her with extensive practical knowledge and experience in the ﬁeld of women’s rights and gender. Jayanthi worked as the Gender Specialist at CARE International Sri Lanka, working on a project to reduce gender based violence in the tea plantations. Jayanthi aims to combine her experience and skills in gender and rock climbing by establishing the latter as a sport in Sri Lanka, with the speciﬁc goal of increasing the participation of women and girls in this activity. Apart from Mount Everest, Jayanthi has also climbed Mt. Imja Tse in the Nepali Himalayas and Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, among many others.
The Meeto Memorial Award for Young South Asians is extremely proud to honour these two incredible South Asian women, who have overcome many obstacles to shine brightly in their fields and who remain tremendously committed to women’s rights. The Meeto Memorial Award congratulates them on their extraordinary achievements!