Aasha, is a Gender and Development Consultant. With over 34 years of experience, she has worked with NGOs, INGOs, UN, Bilateral and Multilateral agencies, State and National governments in India and Asia. In the past she has also worked with the Centre for World Solidarity,Hyderabad; WaterAid, New Delhi; Christian Aid, New Delhi, NIAS, Bangalore; National Alliance of Women, New Delhi and MARG, New Delhi
Born a male in a middle-class family, she had to discontinue her studies, after Grade 10, due to discrimination based on gender. She took to sex work to make ends meet and in 2004 joined Sangama (an organization working on transgender rights), as a part time staff member to educate the sexual minority community members about their rights at cruising areas. She was the promoted as a community Mobilizer and was soon promoted as a Field Supervisor. During that time, she also worked on issues concerning Right to Health and Right to access Condom and other services.
In 2009, as a the Documentation officer for Sangama, she started to work on Gender, Gender based and Sexual based violence with Indian Judiciary, Legislation, Execution, Media, Civil Society Organisations, working class gender and sexual minorities etc.
In 2012, Akkai was invited by the President of India to attend the Swearing in Ceremony of the Hon’ble Chief Justice Shri Altamas Kabir, Supreme Court of India, and was invited His Excellency Governor of Kerala to attend the swearing in ceremony of the Hon’ble Chief Justice Smt Manjula Chellur of the Kerala High Courtand in the same year she became the first male Transgender in Karnataka to complete her Sex Reassignment Surgery counselling process in NIMHANS and underwent a Sex Change Surgery.
She was also part of the discussion on rape law, at the Justice Verma Committee constituted for the Nirbhaya Gang rape case. In 2013, she joined Radio Active CR 90.4 MHz, a community radio station, licensed to Jain University to head the project “Out of Shadows”. The project was aimed at Strengthening Advocacy Activities for Gender, Sexual Minorities & Sex Workers. Following a year of field work, in 2014, she co-founded Ondede (which mean convergence in Kannada), to link the different movements like Child Rights, Women’s Rights and Sexual Minorities Rights through areas of dialogue, research and action on dignity-voice – sexuality with the dream of pursuing her vision for a gender just world. Ondede at present is supported by Radio Active and will soon be registered as an independent entity.
In her free time, Akkai practices singing and has recorded Lakshmi stuti- Bhagyada Lakshmi Baramma ( a Kannada prayer dedicated to the goddess Lakshmi ) for the album- Songs of Caravan and for the popular show Jeeva Diary – Rethinking Perspectives: Queer Issues, Views and Stories” on the life of Uma on Radio Active.
Pinky has over 15 years of experience spanning careers across international education, research, training, community mobilization, livelihood development and community radio.
She joined IDP Education Australia, in 2000, as a key member of the start-up team and was instrumental in establishing operations, building networks, and identifying opportunities for partnerships. She was able to successfully work across all verticals of counseling, business development, consulting, and customer & client services, day-to day operations, marketing & branding, training, event management and market research.
She was responsible for facilitating the Articulation Program between Christ College, Bangalore and Griffith University, Australia in 2003 and also coordinated the activities of the IDP Peace Scholarship in 2004.
While at IDP she received two awards from the IDP Global Network; for Outstanding Service to IDP for initiative, leadership and dedication above expectations; and for Outstanding Service to IDP achievement through excellence in customer service, innovation in marketing, training and mentoring and outstanding teamwork.
Pinky joined the Jain Group of Institutions to head the Training & Development Division in 2005. A certified practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming from the National Federation of Neuro-linguistic Psychology (NFNLP), USA, she has imparted learning to over 2500 individuals on leadership, team building, customer service, personal development, effective interviewing, etc
An ardent believer in the power of community media, she has been instrumental in the launch of Radio Active, a community radio station, in June 2007 in Bangalore- dedicated to providing a space for different groups to come together to create their own media landscape. Under her leadership, the station has reached out to different communities of interest, community based organizations and institutions, expanded broadcast hours to 24 hours and has attained an exemplary status of being one of the most inclusive and community – centered station in the country.
As an active participant in the advocacy of community media, she was elected as the Joint Secretary of the Community Radio Association, India, and Secretary of the South Zone Chapter of the Community Radio Association, India.
She has been part of various working groups and committee, set up on by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting like the Working Group on Peer Support Network and Revisions to Community Radio Policy (2013), Technical Committee, for Community Radio Support Scheme (2013) and was also a Jury Member- National Community Radio Awards, instituted by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (2014)
She has also been deputed by Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for Asia (CEMCA) to mentor Deccan Radio – a community radio station in Hyderabad to develop a sustainability plan (2012-13) and was deputed on behalf of the Department of Science & Technology, Ministry of Science & Technology, GOI on behalf of Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for Asia ( CEMCA) to conduct Baseline and Capacity Building Workshops for the Planet Earth project to Kongu Engineering College, Erode, ( 2009) and MOP Vaishnav College, Chennai ( 2009); the Science for Women’s Health project to VIIT Baramati ( 2009 ) and FTII, Pune ( 2010)
She is also a steering committee member of the South Asia Network for Community Media ( SANCOM), a virtual network that was launched in 2015 to promote community media in the South Asia region, for a democratic and pluralistic media environment
Pinky is also an active campaigner for decentralized community based waste management and is a member of the Solid Waste Management Roundtable, (SWMRT) Bangalore. She has worked on several policy related documents and reports and has co-authored a paper on “A Working Observation on SWM Policy- Karnataka State and ULB Bangalore”, and co-conducted a study for the Revenue Department, Government of India on “Temple Waste Management in Bangalore Case Study of 10 temples in Bangalore “. She also has been instrumental in co-promoting the concept of Dry Waste Collection centers in Bangalore, and has spent over two years with her colleagues documenting the operations of the pilot center in HSR Layout
As one of the trustees of HasiruDala, ( means “Green Force”), a member-based organization of waste-pickers, sorters and itinerant waste-buyers in Bangalore, working towards improving working conditions and access of waste, she is focused on training and capacity building for waste-pickers and has developed the “Waste-picker Training Manual “, and is presently working on the “Scrap Dealer Training manual”. A keen researcher she has also co-authored a paper on the “Informal Waste Workers Contribution in Bangalore”, to determine their economic contribution to the city. Presently she is working on mapping the Informal Recycling Chain in Bangalore
An animal welfare activist, she makes it a point to devote time to tend to street dogs in the city and has co-founded Stray Pals which works on policy advocacy issues on street animals with the municipality, in addition to training, sensitization and handling cruelty cases.
Having worked with different movements, she recently co-founded an initiative called Ondede, which means Convergence and envisions a convergence of the three inter connected movements of child rights, women rights and sexual minority rights across Dignity, Voice and Sexuality
In 2012, she was selected among 600 candidates as a delegate for the inaugural Australia- India Youth Dialogue; the AIYD was created with the aim of forging a sustainable strategic dialogue between the youth of Australia and India in the areas of education, economics, business, security and climate change. In 2014, she received the AIYD Alumni grants for a small study titled “Community Radio: Lessons from Australia” and is expected to submit the report shortly.