Published on: March 9, 2022

Ashla Rani, trustee of Pallium India, has received the Women Empowerment Award 2022.

The award, instituted by Bharatakala Art Academy, was distributed on March 8, International Women’s Day, to honour five outstanding women from Kerala in various fields. The other award winners are Renju Renjimar (Makeup artist), Geeta Archa (social worker), Sheeba B (founder of ‘Mother Touch’), and Tiffany Brar (founder of ‘Jyotirgamaya’).

“I think this award is recognition to the team work in Pallium India. I wouldn’t be able to do what I do today alone; I don’t do anything alone. I hope this award will bring the idea of palliative care as a right of every living being who is undergoing any kind of illness related suffering at any stage of their life, any stage of illness or course of treatment. I hope more people will come to claim their right to care or contribute towards the cause of palliative care.

The award becomes more significant when one considers each of the award winners are working inspirations to many others. These are women who refused to give up at the face of some form of life challenge, and instead gathered strength, and fuelled by their survivor spirit, first empowered themselves, and went on to help people in similar situations to turn their challenges into success stories.

Ashla (39) had met with an accident 10 years ago which damaged her spinal cord. She has been a wheelchair user since then. In spite of the many obstacles, she rose to significance by making it her life mission to help find solutions for the physically challenged and fighting for their rights, all the while spreading the message that everyone had an equal right to the comforts and opportunities in life; it’s never a charity. Public spaces should be transformed into inclusive corridors for the differently-abled, she advocates.

According to Ashla, accessibility is the biggest problem faced by most wheelchair users. “People’s attitude towards us must change. They want us to be inside our homes and never come out. We have equal rights in society. I wonder what makes people think otherwise?”

Ashla holds counselling sessions for others in similar situations. “A differently-abled person has many limitations. But there are many things we can do as well. There are many things you can achieve regardless of whether you have a physical challenge or not. Look at things that can make your life meaningful and worthy,” she said.

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