Activist Akkai Padmashali is the first transgender woman to be awarded Honorary doctorate

Well known social activist and co-founder of NGO Akkai Padmashali Ondede is the first transgender woman to be awarded honorary doctorate.

Ria Das
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Activist Akkai Padmashali, co-founder of the NGO Ondede which works in the area of rights of women, children and gender minorities, has been awarded an honorary doctorate. What makes this special is the fact that she is the first transgender woman in the country who is receiving such an honour.


Akkai hails who hails from Bengaluru  has been a strong voice for the sexual minority and has emerged as an inspiration over the years strongly battling against gender prejudice. The Indian Virtual University for Peace and Education at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan on Tuesday conferred her with the doctorate.

"It just came as such an unexpected happening and I was so confused as to why would they (IVUP) want to bestow a class 10 failure with such an honor? They told me that it was my dedication towards social activism and towards the sexual minority that has drawn their attention as well", elated Akkai said, as reported by TOI.

However, Padmashali seems to be more enthused after the honour and is willing to work even harder in future, for a better future.

"Yes, it is a great honor but what is next? I asked the Vice Chancellors who were present there. They have verbally promised that there will be more honours awarded to the members of our community. It is after all, a part of the mainstreaming process", she added.

Also read: Weaving magic for transgender women: A unique initiative by a Kerala designer

Awards are not new to this activist though. She was a special guest at the swearing in ceremony of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India in 2012, the invitation was extended to her by the President himself. Padmashali also has the distinction of being invited to speak on the social and legal status of sexual minorities at the national conference in Tokyo, Japan.  And in 2015 the Karnataka government recognized her work in the social sector by awarding her the second highest civilian honor, the Karnataka Rajyotsava Award.


For someone who struggled to gain acceptance within family and society circles, even was a sex worker for a few years, it's a testament to her spirit that she has achieved so much in life. And continues to work towards inducing change in society. We doff our hat to Dr Akkai Padmashali.

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