Leiden University College student wins ECHO Award
Leiden University College The Hague student Sass Rogando Sasot has won the 2013 ECHO Award. 'Sass is truly a peaceful activist. She will be a role model for students in and beyond the Netherlands.'
Sass, who comes from the Philippines, is described as exceptional for the breadth of her experience and the depth of her personal struggle. As a social jiustice activist, she is firmly committed to advocating equal recognition of the LGBTQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning and Intersex) community around the world. Her inspired presentation and impressive life story convinced the jury: 'Ten years ago I thought that death was my only option. Now I am standing here today because I am valued for my activities and my achievements.'
Having experienced discrimination in her home country, in December 2002, Sass co-founded the Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP), the first transgender rights advocacy and support group in her country. Since then she has been involved in an extensive and impressive range of activities, from taking part in a student charity performance of the Vagina Monologues to addressing UN-level diplomats on the issue of human rights. Sass: 'As part of the International Human Rights Day celebration in December 2009, along with activists from different parts of the world, I was invited to speak at a United Nations General Assembly side-event held in New York. I was honoured that my speech was even featured in the official YouTube channel of the UN.'
Sass is currently finishing a combined honours degree in World Politics and Global Justice at Leiden University College in The Hague. She already has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in Human Resource Management from the Open University of Hong Kong. Sass: 'I believe that both degrees will provide me with skills in becoming a well-rounded human rights advocate.' The combination of the business world with politics and justice is a powerful one. 'My passion, experience and education will all help me realise my dream to be in a position whare I can make decisions that will have a far-reaching impact,' Sass concludes.
Experience of living in the Philippines, Hong Kong and Europe, and her travels to pursue her advocacy work make Sassan active global citizen. She is a prime bridge-builder and mediator, not only across cultures, but also across nationalities, languages, orientations, mindsets and world views. Her reaction to winning the ECHO Award: 'It means I am on the right track. It is an invitation to keep on marching.'
What does winning the ECHO Award mean to Sass? 'I intend to use the award as a platform to let everyone know that transgender people, anywhere in the world, have lives worth living, have dreams worth realizing, and have the same dignity as everyone else.'
(18 april 2013 / MLH)
The ECHO Award