Outspoken Writer Lila Shahani Honoured By WIN


By Ashok Bhargava, President Writers International Network Canada

VANCOUVER – Writers International Network Canada bestowed Outspoken Writer Award to Lila Shahani, a well known Filipina academics.

Shahani said, “it’s such a surprise and honor to receive the “Outspoken Writer Award” from Writer’s International Network (WIN) Canada after my talk on human trafficking in Vancouver! Many thanks to Ashok K. Bhargava WIN President, Mable Elmore Member of the Legislative Assembly of BC and the University of British Columbia.”

After the award ceremony Bootz Estella, President of outreach at Mable Elmore’s constituency office commented that, “for the award given to Lila Shahani, its very uplifting to note that this acknowledgement is recognition for a courageous individual whose goal is to make difference in the lives of vulnerable people.”

Another person said, “ I admire organizations like WIN – Writers International Network that recognize outspoken people to reinforce the belief that we must say what is true, we must not be intimidated, and criticism must not shake our resolve.”

On Monday, January 14th, Shahani, a well known Filipina academics, was an invited guest of University of British Columbia and Mable Elmore, MLA for Vancouver Kensington to speak on Human Trafficking: Philippine, Canadian and Global Context at The Liu Institute for Global Issues of the University of British Columbia. She is currently Assistant Secretary and head of communications for the Human Development and Poverty Reduction Cabinet Cluster of the Philippine Government.

Lila Shahani has an impressive background. She has worked for the University of the Philippines, the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Oxford University Press, the United Nations Children’s Fund and the United Nations Development Program. She has published widely and recently co-edited a book by Oxford scholars on Noble Laureate Amartya Sen’s theories on economic development.

She was the brightest star at the Liu Centre who spoke freely and without any hesitations. She provides voice to the voiceless masses who are abused sexually, emotionally and physically. When asked what inspires her to stand up for vulnerable people, she said, “My subject of interest is the disempowered, I write what’s in my head and I don’t pander to the market, because I want to remain a social critic, nothing more.”

Shahani was born into political aristocracy. Her mother Leticia Shahani is a distant relative of the late Ferdinand Marcos, is a former senator and diplomat who helped oust the dictator and sister of former President Fidel V. Ramos. Senator Leticia married the late Professor Ranjee Shahani, an Indian writer and a professor with whom she has three children and Lila is the youngest of the three. Lila is a free spirit and her lineage doesn’t stop her from criticizing unsavory policies of the administration even if that of her uncle a former President Ramos. I think it is perhaps easier to speak up against the system from outside but to speak from inside requires courage and conviction.

If interested in reading Lila Shahani’s keynote presentation speech on human trafficking, please access the following website: http://www.law.washington.edu/AsianLaw/HumanTrafficking/Shahani_keynote.pdf

pic-cap – Mable Elmore MLA – Vancouver Kensington, Lila Shahani and Ashok Bhargava
* Lila Shahani at Q & A session at UBC
* Lila Shahani winner of WIN Outspoken Writer Award medallion