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Nari Shakti announced as Hindi Word of the Year

Nari Shakti announced as Hindi Word of the Year

27 January 2019

At the Jaipur Literature Festival this month, our Oxford Dictionaries team in India announced Hindi Word of the Year 2019 as ‘Nari Shakti’—a term used to symbolize women taking charge of their own lives.

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. Derived from Sanskrit, Nari means ‘women’ and Shakti means ‘power’.

Nari Shakti drew attention in 2018, largely thanks to efforts by the Government of India and Hindi speakers nationwide to support inclusivity, leading to new initiatives, laws being revised, and the championing of the #MeToo campaign which helped facilitate women’s rights and empowerment in India.

There was a spike in the use of Nari Shakti in March 2018, with increased discussion of the Government of India’s Nari Shakti Puraskar (Women’s Power Award), held on International Women’s Day. The awards set the tone for the rest of the year by recognizing exceptional achievement by women who have broken stereotypes and chartered new paths via their contributions to society. Additionally, two major decisions by the Supreme Court significantly contributed to prominence of the term, with ‘triple-taliq’ (the Islamic practice of instant divorce) being banned, and the removing of a rule that disallowed women entry to the Sabarimala temple in Kerala.

Other impactful changes included women being accepted into inter-combat roles in the armed forces; expansion of the government sponsored Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao campaign; the opening of 200 centres for women facing violence across the country; lifting of a ban on women attending Haj without a Mehram or male companion; and implementation of a universal helpline for forming international alliances to tackle cybercrime and the harassment of women online.

Hindi Word of the Year was chosen by Oxford Dictionaries with the help of an advisory panel of language experts. The panel included: Ashok Kumar Sharma (a Hindi Language Champion and Advisor at the Public Relation Society of India), Kritika Agrawal (Hindi Language Champion, Lawyer, polyglot, and Indian language expert), Namita Gokhale (writer, publisher, festival director, and author), Randhir Thakur (Associate Commissioning Editor, Hindi, Oxford University Press India), Saurabh Dwivedi (Journalist, Editor in Chief of, and former Associate Editor AajTak), and Vijay Nandan (Hindi Language Champion, and freelance writer and translator).

Oxford Dictionaries Language Champion, Kritika Agrawal, explains: ‘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.’

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