- Award-winning disabled campaigner says ‘leave no one behind’ and calls for inclusive education for all
- One in three of the children around the world who do not have access to primary education have a disability
A 24 year-old disabled girl from India who has battled discrimination from her family, peers and teachers, will receive an award in recognition of her remarkable achievements from Gordon Brown at the UN in New York.
Ashwini Angadi hails from a rural, poor community in India. As a disabled girl, she was considered unable to fulfil the role of wife and mother, making her more vulnerable to physical and mental abuse.
India has a population of 40 million disabled people – nearly half (42%) of these are women. In a society where women already have a low status, if they are disabled they may be considered a greater burden for the family. With few education or job opportunities, many are forced to be financially dependent, making them extremely vulnerable.
Ashwini took advantage of an opportunity that is usually denied to someone in her situation. She was educated from the age of four at a charitable hostel, and then went onto university in Bangalore, graduating in 2012 at the top of her class.
The tireless campaigner will share her story on stage in front of over 500 young leaders from around the world and call for equal access to education at “Malala Day”. The event will take place at the UN headquarters tomorrow (Friday 12 July).
Gordon Brown, the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, will present Ashwini with a ‘Youth Courage Award for Education’. The young recipients of the award have been selected for showing exemplary leadership and perseverance in standing up for the right to education, often against some of the most adverse circumstances.
Ashwini, who will be one of six youth campaigners from the charity Leonard Cheshire Disability to attend the events in New York, has won a raft of awards for her participation in education and cultural activities.
She is now working for the charity’s partner service in Bangalore as a facilitator for the global Leonard Cheshire Disability Young Voices project which supports young disabled people to campaign for the rights of people with disabilities.
“I have faced negative attitudes and multiple discrimination all my life. 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,” says Ashwini.
“However, I have fought for my right to get an education and without it I wouldn’t be speaking at this event. I am honoured and proud to be receiving this award. I hope my story will encourage people to support our campaign to ensure that no one is left behind.”
Julian Gore Booth Interim Director of International at Leonard Cheshire Disability, said: “One in three of the children around the world who do not have access to primary education have a disability.
We are very proud of the recognition that has been afforded to Ashwini. Her message that education is a basic human right supports our call upon world leaders to ensure that people with disabilities are at the forefront of international development.”
Malala was shot in the head on 9 October, 2012, after she became a spokesperson for girls’ education and boldly opposed the Taliban’s moves to ban girls from schools. She underwent treatment in the UK, and continues to live there after her father was appointed to a diplomatic post at Pakistan’s consulate in Birmingham, which he can hold for up to five years. 12th July is Malala’s 16th birthday.
To celebrate Malala Day, the global community is coming together to highlight the leading role that young people can play in enabling all children to get an education.
For further information about Malala Day visi aworldatschool.org/malaladay
To view photographs, blogs and quotes from the day visit lcdyoungvoices.tumblr.com