Oxford Dictionaries Hindi Word of the Year 2018 is…
The Oxford Dictionaries Hindi Word of the Year is a word or expression that captures the prevailing ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the passing year and is judged to have lasting potential as a term of cultural significance.
Our call to Hindi speakers for their suggestions in November 2018 garnered an enormous response, and together with our advisory panel of Hindi language experts we have researched and reviewed the hundreds of public submissions to select one for the title.
The Oxford Dictionaries Hindi Word of the Year 2018 is… Nari Shakti.
The term Nari Shakti is defined as increasing activism of women in various fields. Derived from Sanskrit, Nari means ‘women’ and Shakti means ‘power’. The expression has its roots in the story of the Hindu goddess Durga, who, in the form of AdiShakti, is viewed as supernatural divine power of creation, observance, and destruction of the world according to Hindu mythology. Today, the term is used to symbolize women taking charge of their own lives.
Kritika Agrawal, Oxford Dictionaries Language champion, commented: ‘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.’
Nari Shakti drew focused attention in 2018 thanks to concerted efforts by the Government of India and Hindi speakers nationwide to realize aims for inclusive development. This saw new initiatives established, existing laws revised, and the championing of the global #MeToo campaign to encourage and facilitate women’s rights and empowerment throughout all areas of Indian society.
Early March 2018 recorded a large spike in use of the term Nari Shakti as discussion arose around the Government of India’s Nari Shakti Puraskar (Women Power Award), held annually on International Women’s Day. The award recognizes exceptional achievement by women who have broken stereotypes and charted new paths in their contributions to society, with particular attention to the empowerment of vulnerable or marginalized women. Among the 39 deserving recipients from a diverse group in 2018 was Jayamma Bhandari, whose work rehabilitating and supporting sex workers over the last 20 years earned her the national honour.
The awards set the tone for the rest of the year as women’s empowerment, Nari Shakti, achieved greater momentum. The blossoming of the #MeToo movement in India in 2018 is a stand-out example of this momentum, with India witness to this latest globally-significant advance in women’s fight for workplace equality and dignity. Women in India have furiously taken to social media using the #MeToo hashtag to publicize accounts of workplace sexual harassment, some of which having been bottled up for decades.
Our research found that two major decisions taken by the Supreme Court also significantly contributed to Nari Shakti’s prominence in 2018 as commentators from across the political spectrum debated the verdicts and impact. The judiciary body took action to safeguard women’s right to live in an environment free from discrimination. In September, the Court issued a ban on ‘triple-taliq’, the controversial Islamic practice of ‘instant divorce’, stating that the practice was now unconstitutional and punishable by up to three years imprisonment. And the following month, the judges struck down a rule that disallowed girls and women entry to the Sabarimala temple in Kerala, ruling that such an exclusionary practice violated women’s right to worship and freely enter the temple to practice the Hindu religion.
Other, no less impactful changes in 2018 were to the ban on women going to Haj without a Mehram or male companion, which has now been lifted, and women’s introduction into inter-combat roles in the armed forces.
The hugely successful government-sponsored Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao (Save the girl child, Educate girl child) programme was expanded to all districts of the country in 2018, with participants having already taken advantage of the opportunity to open their own bank accounts and apply for business loans.
Women’s safety continues to be a top priority for Nari Shakti, with 200 one-stop centres with single window service to women facing violence set up across the country in 2018. A universal 181 helpline for 24/7 assistance for women was also started in 28 states, and the saw government taking measures to tackle cybercrime and the online harassment of women head-on.
In 2018, there was no question that Nari Shakti had risen to effect change, working to enshrine women’s rights and ensure that all women are empowered across the Hindi-speaking world and beyond, making it the stand-out choice for the Oxford Dictionaries Hindi Word of the Year 2018.