She faced discrimination owing to visual impairment. But this disadvantage has now become her strength. She helps women with disabilities to know and fight for their rights. And, she is the first of her kind from Jharkhand to do so.
Meet Sonali Pal, who lost her vision after passing her intermediate examinations due to retinatis pigmentosa. She was the only person from Jharkhand who got selected for the South Asian Regional Leadership Skill Development Programme for the disabled women held at the Vedic Village in Kolkata in March this year.
After successfully clearing the Leadership Skill Development Programme, Pal is not only supporting her family but also involved in spreading awareness among the disabled women towards their rights in the society. So far she has conducted two-day leadership camps.
“During these camps we try to ensure 50:50 ratio of male and female attendance especially encouraging rural disabled persons. We inform them about Person with Disability Act 1995 and the recent UN convention on person with disabilities,” said Pal, who is also pursuing her Masters in Sociology from the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU).
“I was discriminated against at a computer firm where I worked as a front office executive for my disability and was forced to resign. I then joined social organisations and the Jharkhand Viklang Manch (JVM) to help my family, comprising two sisters and my mother. My father died of cancer in 2000,” said Pal.
“I went into depression in 1994 after passing my ISC examination when I was diagnosed with visual impairment. It took three years before I was associated with the National Association of Blind (NAB), Jamshedpur, and it was this institute which encouraged me to pursue my studies with the help of a reader and complete my BA from IGNOU in 2004,” said Pal.