MS.GEETA (39) AND MS. KANTA (41) share one prize, INDIA


Both candidates belong to the Harijans, a community of outcasts of the Haryana region. Despite her being an excellent student, Geeta was pulled out of school to get married and then confined to the family enclosure. When her husband lost his job, they could barely manage a meal a day for their children.

Kanta, like Geeta, was brilliant at school but was also forced to leave school and was married at 10 years old. At 15, she moved to her husband’s family where she had to do everything – the cooking, house chores, taking care of the cattle, working in the fields … an endless succession of pressing tasks. But these two courageous women decided not to give in to such tough circumstances, which would have subdued many others. They joined a village self-help group and started training in various areas, and soon became real experts in promoting bio-sand filters. (A biosand filter is a point-of-use water treatment adapted from traditional slow sand filters. These remove pathogens and suspended solids from water using biological and physical processes that take place in a sand column covered with a biofilm). The filters act against iron and arsenic contamination and biological impurities. Due to the very low cost of these filters they are extremely well suited to poor rural communities suffering from waterborne diseases. From being despised outcasts, Geeta and Kanta have become key figures in the social and economic promotion of their communities and are looked upon with respect by all.

Their work contributes to achieving UN SustainableDevelopment Goals-Agenda 2030 Targets #5, #6, #9& #11