The issue of women empowerment and gender equality is at the top of the agendas across the world, as gender inequality is a widespread topic in all the cultures. Empowerment can be defined as “Multi – dimensional social process that helps people gain control over their own lives.” The best example for such a character is Christine Ha, an American Chef, writer and TV host. She is the first blind contestant of Master chef and the winner of its 3rd season in 2012. For most of the aspiring chefs, winning the title of Master chef in Fox’s popular television cooking competition would be the achievement of a lifetime effort.
In 2012, Christina Ha not only impressed the judges with her mastery of the kitchen and recipes that drew on her Vietnamese American heritage, she also won increasingly tough culinary challenges. In the end, she took home the title, a cash prize, and a cook book deal. Christine has been blind all this while facing these challenges.
In 1999, Ha was an undergraduate at the university of Texas at Austin, adjusting to the life in a campus apartment when she first experienced her blurred vision in one eye. “I assumed it was a dirty contact lens.” She says. But her blurriness persisted. For a student finishing college and looking to the future, the experience was frightening. “In 20 s you are supposed to feel invisible, but while my friends were building careers, I was looking for my vision and my ability and more.” she says.
Loss is not new to her life. Her mother died of cancer when Ha was just 14 years old. That transformative experience, Ha says, helped process her own loss. When the cook book author lost her eyesight to a rare autoimmune disease, she thought her life was over. It turns out, it was just the beginning. Those who rooted for Ha as she gracefully navigated the kitchen using her sense of touch might have assumed she’d been blind- and a skilled cook- for most of her life. But neither is true. Ha’s first cookbook, “Recipes from My Home Kitchen: Asian and American Comfort Food”, was a New York Times best- seller. Today at 40, Ha has found international fame, not just in culinary realm. She is an advocate for the blind and the 2014 recipient of the Helen Keller Personal Achievement Award from the American Foundation for the Blind.
She is a cook. She is blind. And the fact that she is both, makes her a rarity in the restaurant world. According to Ha, what is best about being blind is being able to skip most queues and not being able to judge a person by their appearance. In conclusion, women like Christine Ha, are role models for each and everybody. As women, we all must have that self confidence as Ha had to face challenges we come across in life and to reach our target despite the obstacles. According to Ha, to become a great and successful woman, what you have to do first is to embrace yourself.
Written by: Rtr. H.D.Amanda Pabudunayake, Team I, Rota Tomorrow.