Rotary, a membership service organization committed to delivering impactful and lasting solutions to the most pressing humanitarian challenges, is globally recognizing Sarita Shukla from Delhi for empowering the lives of transgender people in India.

Shukla is one of six Rotary members from around the world to receive the Rotary People of Action: Champion of Inclusion distinction for working to empower historically marginalized and underrepresented communities. Through Project Astitva, Shukla is uplifting the transgender community in Delhi by providing employment opportunities, healthcare, vocational training, entrepreneurial mentorships, emergency support, and counseling.

India consists of approximately 5-7 lac transgender people. According to National Human Rights Commission study on rights of transgenders, around 99 percent of transgenders have suffered social rejection on more than one occasion and 96 percent are forced to take low paying jobs or beg for their livelihoods. 

Along with getting thousands of trans people immunized against Covid-19, Shukla has been working to train transgender people to earn sustainable livelihoods. To date, Shukla has positively impacted the lives of more than 11,000 transgender people living in Delhi.

“The trans community in India remains underserved in terms of basic rights like  education and health. Project Astitva aims to change the mindsets by creating awareness and collectively rallying for an enabling environment for transgender people. We need to create inclusive educational opportunities for the community to equip them with skills needed for higher paying jobs,” said Sarita Shukla.

Shukla will present her work at the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation in Cape Town, South Africa on 4 April 2023, with an audience of philanthropists, notables, and Rotary members. In addition to Shukla, five other Rotary member honorees will share learnings on:

  • Teaching visually impaired and homeless children from refugee settlements to express themselves through music in Turkey,
  • Educating and nurturing children with intellectual disabilities in Uganda,
  • Facilitating open discussions on the social barriers people can face in the LGBTQ, disabled and other underrepresented communities in Brazil,
  • Supporting and cultivating relationships with Indigenous communities in Canada, and
  • Building a culture of inclusion as an advocate and mentor for women and people of color in southern Georgia, U.S.  

“The actions taken by these Rotary members exemplify our approach to bringing people together to cultivate a more just, open and inclusive world,” said Rotary International President Jennifer Jones. “We are an organization that finds common ground in our humanity and in our desire to create lasting change in our communities, the world and in ourselves. Every day, we leverage our members’ diverse perspectives to fight inequalities, foster peace, and address humanitarian challenges across the globe.”

Rotary members throughout the world develop and implement sustainable, community-driven projects that fight disease, promote peace, provide clean water, support education, save mothers and children, grow local economies and protect the environment. Over US$5.5 billion has been awarded through The Rotary Foundation to support these programs worldwide.