World University of Design Confers First-ever Srijan Shakti Awards to Six Women Designers

Sonipat-based World University of Design has conferred the first-ever Srijan Shakti Awards to six women designers to honour their contributions to the creative domain. The winners include Shambhavi Gupta from Incedo, an engineering services company; Sonal Tuli from Within, a multi-disciplinary studio; Jaya Kanwar, Founder Director at Anhad and Senior Manager at Accenture; Preksha Baid, founder of design studio Y-walls Design; Aditi Vitasta Dhar, Founder Director at Vitasta lifestyle and accessory design; and Anushka Das, Founder, Kalpavriksh Design.

Talking about the reasons for instituting India’s first-ever awards for women in design, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Vice Chancellor, World University of Design, said: “We have instituted the Srijan Shakti Awards to honor and recognize women who have been practicing in the creative domain & doing pioneering work, whose story needs to be told for their inspiring potential. These Women of Design demonstrate qualities like innovative excellence, impactful leadership, diversity and inclusivity, social impact, consistent excellence, cross-disciplinary collaboration, mentorship and advocacy, preservation of culture and heritage, adaptability to change or innovative use of technology in design. The word Srijan is interpreted as creativity & innovation, while Shakti represents the power of the feminine. SrijanShakti thus alludes to the powerful relationship between creativity and the woman. A jury of prominent professionals in the creative domain assessed the nominations to choose the most inspiring ones. I extend my heartiest congratulations to all the winners.”

On the occasion, a dialogue by prominent thought leaders was held on the past, present, and future roles of women in the design industry. The six panelists explored the challenges, opportunities, and responsibilities associated with gender-biased design practices, and discussed how the design industry can better address the needs of women in and through these practices.

The speakers included Amit Krishn Gulati, Executive Director Incubis; Sandhya Raman, Founder, Desmania Design; Anuradha Kumra, Ex-President – Apparel, FabIndia Overseas; Anthony Lopez, Founder, Lopez Design; Lolita Dutta, Independent Design Consultant; and Aishwarya Tipnis, Founder, Aishwarya Tipnis Architects.

Said Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Vice Chancellor, World University of Design “Women in design often encounter stereotypes and biases that undermine their skills and capabilities. There may be preconceived notions about the type of work women can excel in, leading to limited opportunities and recognition for them. Women are also often underrepresented in design professions, particularly in leadership roles. A gender wage gap persists in many industries, including design. Women designers may earn less than their male counterparts for similar roles. They may also face challenges in receiving the same level of recognition and acknowledgement for their work as their male counterparts. Design themes and concepts may sometimes reinforce traditional gender stereotypes. 

WUD decided to raise this issue as gender sensitivity in a design university goes beyond mere recognition of gender diversity. It is crucial for creating an inclusive and supportive learning environment. It involves understanding, respecting, and accommodating the unique needs and perspectives of individuals across the gender spectrum. Challenging these stereotypes is crucial for promoting inclusivity.”

Said Anthony Lopez, Founder and Chief Creative Director, Lopez Design: “The subject of women in design and creating inclusive spaces goes beyond the binaries. There is still much to be done, as we are just scratching the surface. It all starts with the family, where we must intervene to foster inclusivity from an early age. By addressing gender expectations and nurturing an environment where both girls and boys are encouraged equally, we lay the foundation for a more inclusive society. From there, societal norms will naturally evolve.” 

Added Amit Krishn Gulati, Executive Director Incubis: “The topic of equity and balance in the workplace, particularly within the design field, is very important. Women bring invaluable empathy, talent, multitasking abilities, and creativity essential for design. It’s imperative to create environments that not only acknowledge their skills but also support their performance, especially considering the additional challenges they may face outside of work. We must strive for inclusivity, considering all genders and categories, to ensure our profession reflects the diverse world we live in.”

Said Anuradha Kumra, Ex-President – Apparel, FabIndia Overseas: “It is essential to embrace inclusion across creative industries. Making ‘she’ and non-binary individuals visible is a catalyst for amplifying impact in India’s journey towards becoming a developed nation.”

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