The 65-year-old diva was presented with the honour by the Indian American philanthropist Frank Islam.
"This evening is exceptionally memorable," Zeenat said as she accepted the award at the conclusion of the sixth annual film festival on September 8.
Islam praised the veteran actor for inspiring women across all ages through her performances on the silver screen.
"Zeenat, you defined girlhood and womanhood for generations of South Asians. Young and old alike cried when you cried on screen, and they laughed when you laughed," he said in his key note address at the awards ceremony.
The event also saw Zeenat's son, Azaan Khan, being recognised with the rising star director award for his upcoming film "Bankster", which features Naseeruddin Shah.
"Lipstick Under My Burkha" received the best feature film award at the festival while British-Indian actor-director Kavi Raz was recognised with the outstanding achievement in international cinema award.
Noting that the Alankrita Shrivastava-directed movie had run in trouble with the Central Board of Film Certification in India, Islam said the success of an independent movie such as "Lipstick..." has proved once again that art and cinema can be effectively used for social purposes.
"Art plays a pivotal role in connecting, inspiring, and engaging communities. It has a unifying and healing power. The art transcends all boundary. It represents the very best of our humanity," he said.
The special jury mention for best feature film went to "The Valley" and "Elephants in the Coffee" bagged the prize for the best documentary.
Ananth Mahadevan received the best director award for "Dr Rukhmabai", a biopic on India's first practising lady doctor.
Actor Tannishtha Chatterjee featured in the titular role.
Adil Hussain was adjudged as the best actor for "Mukti Bhawan".
The actor took to Twitter where he thanked debutant director Shubhashish Bhutiani for his support.
"Credit goes to my director @shubhashishb for this award for best actor @DCSAFF for @MuktiBhawan @hotelsalvation1," Hussain wrote.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)