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Hindi Word of the Year is a word or expression that captures the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the past year. For 2018, we chose ‘Nari Shakti,’ which means female power and is used to symbolize women taking charge of their own lives.
Derived from Sanskrit, the term drew attention throughout 2018 largely thanks to efforts by the Government of India and Hindi speakers nationwide to support inclusivity, which lead to new initiatives, laws being revised, and the championing of the #MeToo campaign which helped facilitate women’s rights and empowerment in India.
Use of Nari Shakti also grew with increased discussion of the Government of India’s Nari Shakti Puraskar (Women’s Power Award), held on International Women’s Day, which recognized 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. 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.’