Obama and the large crowd at the State Department auditorium was moved and touched when Laxmi, a standard-bearer of the movement to end acid attacks, recited a poem recounting her experience on the occasion on Tuesday.
"You haven't thrown acid on my face; you threw it on my dreams. You didn't have love in your heart; you had acid in it," Laxmi recited soon after receiving the prestigious award along with several other women from different parts of the world including Afghanistan and Fiji.
The original poem was in Hindi.
Laxmi was 16 when an acquaintance threw acid on her face while she waited at a bus stop in New Delhi's busy Khan Market in 2005, disfiguring her permanently. Her attacker, a friend's 32-year-old brother, threw the acid to destroy Laxmi's face after she refused to respond to his romantic advances.
Recognition for her effort through this award, is a great encouragement and motivation for the girls and women of India, many of whom still are not able to speak out against the atrocities inflicted upon them, Laxmi said soon after receiving the award.
"After this award, girls of India would think, if Laxmi can do this, I can also raise my voice against injustice," Laxmi told PTI in an interview. Last year, Nirbhaya, the courageous 23-year-old girl whose brutal gang rape and murder on a moving bus in Delhi in December 2012 triggered widespread protests, was honoured with the award.