Bangalore-based Ashwini Angadi, a visually-challenged girl who is the national facilitator of Leonard Cheshire Disability Young Voices programme, was conferred the “Youth Courage Award for Education” by the United Nations at its Youth Take Over event in New York on Friday, a statement from the organisation said.
Ashwini received the award from former British prime minister and present UN secretary-general’s special envoy for global education Gordon Brown and father of Pakistani youth icon Malala, Ziauddin Yousafzai, on his daughter’s birthday on July 12, when she addressed the United Nations in New York.
“I would like to congratulate you as an inaugural honouree of the UN special envoy for global education youth courage award. Because of your action to stand up for the rights of every girl and boy to go to school and learn, I would like to recognise you as a leader and roll model for youth across the globe,” Gordon Brown has said in a letter to Ashwini in which he compared her with Malala for her courage.
A copy of the letter is available with Deccan Herald. “Your action demonstrates the power of youth in leading the charge against discrimination so that all young people can move from oppression to opportunity through the right to education,” the UN envoy further said in the letter.
Ashwini, 24, who belongs to a poor rural community, was considered incapable of performing her role as a wife and mother due to her disability, making her vulnerable to physical and mental abuse.
“I have faced negative attitude and multiple discrimination all my life,” Ashwini has said in a statement from New York.
“When I was born, my life was at risk because I was disabled and considered a burden to my family. In addition, girls are also discriminated against because they have to give a huge dowry to the bridegroom and therefore cost money. However, I have fought for my rights to get education and without which I wouldn’t be speaking at this event,” Ashwini said in her speech.
“I am honoured and proud to be receiving this award.” She called upon youth across the globe to leave no one behind in the quest for education and has asked society to ensure inclusive education for all.Ashwini’s parents run a small eatery in Bangalore. She had to fight opposition from her parents and teachers to continue her education.
UP girl shines
The name Malala Yousafzai may not ring a bell for the people of Nagla Kumbha village in Uttar Pradesh, but one of their own made the area proud by winning the UN award for her work against child labour. Class-XII student Razia Sultan, who has freed many children from child labour and helped them join school, was conferred the first UN Malala award for spreading education among child labourers.
Razia’s father Farman said the girl stitched footballs as a child since the family could not afford to send her to school.
Her life was transformed after she came in contact with an NGO which rescued child labourers. “I was inspired by the work and vowed to take up the issue,” she said.
Razia has made around half a dozen villages “Bal Mitra (friends of children),” i.e, free from the scourge of child labour. “These villages have no child labourers now,” she said.
She also campaigned against child labor in Nepal, where she participated in a march a few years ago. Former British prime minister Gordon Brown, during his India visit, was apprised of her work and Razia was recommended for the Malala award.
“I could not go to the US to receive the award in person owing to difficulties in getting passport and visa,” she said.