|Conferring WOI Professional of Year Award 2019|
When presenting the Award, Abbi DeLessio, Co-Chair of the WoI Judging Committee and Senior Consultant at Triangle Associates, said that, “In making their decision, the judges noted Puja’s commitment to going beyond leaning in and dedicating her expertise to pushing boundaries and breaking through traditional barriers. Her journey that continues to inspire many, her students and women in minority communities… her work is so well-aligned with what is happening globally.” DeLessio shared that one judge said, “Puja’s work is gaining traction not only in Hong Kong but she is poised to make a huge difference. Her work is timely, relevant and important and will have a lasting impact.”
Puja spoke about the value of her work and the award in her acceptance speech:
People within my community sometimes ask me whether my work makes any difference? Were the sacrifices I have made worth it? I think about this, too. As minority women, we often fall through the cracks due to intersectional dimensions of our identity which are inadequately captured by narratives of racism or sexism on their own. But we are more than just the sum of our parts. These experiences unmask how powerful people and powerful systems invisibilise women of colour by glossing over the structural barriers we face and by ignoring our agency and voice. This negative narrative diminishes our agency, constructs us as vulnerable and invites many ‘saviours’ or naysayers who counsel us to stay in our lanes. This Award helps rewrite this script on minority women to enable people like me to be seen as empowered agents for change in our own right, both within and outside our communities. And my hope is for this to encourage and inspire many others out there who dream to make an impact.Puja is Convenor of HKU's Women's Studies Research Centre and Associate Professor in HKU Law.