After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in textile design from Philadelphia University, Asha Pabla worked for more than a decade as a designer and quality control specialist in the fashion industry. Beyond her professional pursuits, Asha Pabla is a member of the board of directors of the American India Foundation (AIF).
Established in 2001 as a platform for philanthropic efforts in India, AIF has since affected the lives of more than 3.1 million citizens of the country. One of the prominent programs of AIF is its Maternal and Newborn Survival Initiative (MANSI), which was created to reduce child and maternal mortality rates in impoverished rural areas.
According to UNICEF, Indian women comprise nearly one-quarter of all maternal deaths in the world. Less than half of the country’s mothers deliver their children in healthy environments, such as hospitals.
MANSI aims to fix this disturbing trend by providing curative and preventative care for newborns and mothers through improved access to government-funded health facilities. The initiative’s primary focus is in Jharkhand, a landlocked state in which dense forests restrict access to healthcare facilities. In an effort to establish peer-based community care, villages in the region are equipped with trained community health workers who not only assist with home-based care but also educate families on positive health behaviors.
Former Liz Claiborne fashion designer Asha Pabla possesses years of experience in garment design, quality control, and fabric sourcing. Outside of the fashion industry, Asha Pabla serves on the board of directors of the American India Foundation (AIF).
In its efforts to promote economic and social change in India, the AIF maintains numerous programs, including the Youth Ambassador Program. The program focuses on establishing a bridge between the United States and India by exposing US high school students to conditions in India.
The Youth Ambassador Program gives American students the opportunity to visit communities in India and interact with the country’s private sector and schools. During their time in India, US students participate in a service-learning curriculum designed by the AIF and work in hands-on activities offered through AIF’s partnership with the Frugal Innovation Lab at the Santa Clara University School of Engineering. Through first-hand experience, American students develop an understanding of the economic, environmental, and social challenges that Indian communities face.
After receiving a degree from the Parsons School of Design, Asha Pabla found a job as a fashion designer for Liz Claiborne. She has also served as a manager for fabric and textiles at New York fabrics manufacturer Pressman Gutman. As a successful professional of South Asian descent, Asha Pabla actively supports the youth of her own heritage through South Asian Youth Action (SAYA).
Since its inception in 1996, SAYA has been operating a New York-based youth development program that aims to help young people thrive academically, professionally, and personally in today’s world. What started as a small afterschool program for South Asian youth in Queens eventually grew to become a citywide project that incorporates a holistic approach to providing youth support.
At the core of SAYA’s programs is academic support to high school students. To be fully prepared for college, SAYA youth receive free individual tutoring and college advisement. Moreover, students can attend classes that will help them prepare for the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). On top of these, SAYA assists students in completing college applications, personal statements, and financial aid forms.
Asha Pabla has managed three lines of production in the fabric and textile industry. A graduate of Parsons School of Design, Asha Pabla also serves on the board of directors of the American India Foundation (AIF).
The AIF is a nonprofit organization that works to enhance economic and social change in India by creating a bridge between the South Asian state and the United States. Its global office is located in New York City. The organization, which also has offices in Palo Alto, California, and Gurgaon, India, has improved the lives of over 3.1 million individuals through programs such as the Learning and Migration Program.
The AIF’s Learning and Migration Program (LAMP), which it implemented in 2003, is an educational initiative that addresses disruptions to children’s education due to seasonal labor migration. Young children are often unable to receive a quality education and some do not attend school at all as they have to migrate with their families. LAMP targets areas that experience high levels of migration, offering a learning enrichment program as well as accommodation in seasonal hostels. In addition, it engages in advocacy in keeping with the Right to Education Act of 2009.
Asha Pabla holds degrees in design and has worked extensively in the New York fashion and textile industries. She also supports a range of philanthropic causes and has served as a volunteer with the League of Artisans. Asha Pabla’s love for the handmade jewelry of craftswomen from around the world has given her particular respect for the challenges indigenous and rural workers face.
The League of Artisans has worked to highlight the artistic and economic contributions made by female artisans in under-resourced and tribal communities to help improve the daily lives of these craftspeople. Through the efforts of the League and its supporters, increasing numbers of women around the world have been able to achieve sustainable livelihoods and better provide for themselves and their families.
The non-partisan, secular League also dedicated itself to an effort to ensure protection for tribal and indigenous artwork, art forms, and natural environments.
Outside the work of the League of Artisans in New York, a number of other organizations dedicated to empowering female craftspeople have arisen around the world over the years. Many of these, such as the Mexico-based Mujeres Sembrando la Vida (“Women Sowing Life”) are directed by the craftswomen themselves for their cooperative benefit.
Accomplished fashion designer Asha Pabla collaborated on unique designs for Liz Claiborne for several years. She was responsible for each design’s quality control and oversaw the quality of garments’ shaping, fit, and stitching. Now focusing on her philanthropic work, Asha Pabla serves on the board of directors for the South Asian Youth Association.
As part of its mission to help youth thrive personally, professionally, and academically, the South Asian Youth Association (SAYA) maintains several comprehensive programs, including its leadership and identity development programs. These programs designed for young men and women in high school helps these individuals develop their social and personal identities. They also improve critical-thinking skills and foster a sense of peer support and trust.
SAYA offers various activities, discussions, and reflections within its leadership and identity programs. All programs maintain a culturally affirmative environment and help youth handle challenges relating to such topics as race and gender. Participants challenge the existing stereotypes through group discussions and complete various projects focused on getting them out of their comfort zone.
Meanwhile, they explore potential career interests through guest speakers and regular workplace trips. SAYA also hosts an annual career exploration day that gives youth the opportunity to learn about different professional and educational options.
Asha Pabla is a veteran of the fashion and textile industries. Outside of work, Asha Pabla gives back to the community through her involvement with a range of different organizations, including Aid to Artisans. This organization works with artisans around the world to grow the market for their goods and help them earn a livable income.
Aid to Artisans has successfully teamed with 10 indigenous textile groups in Mexico to support more than 300 artisans from Chiapas and surrounding communities. This area is served by the CASE Project, which helps designers and craftspeople tell the story of Mexico through textiles and weaving.
CASE is also focused on addressing gender issues in Maya society that discourage the development of artisan skillsets and inhibit business growth. Late last year, the organization launched a gender training program that brought together wives and husbands in an effort to analyze how culture can constrain artistic and economic growth.
In Chiapas, many women are viewed as homemakers who should rely on their husbands for financial support. Weaving is seen as a pastime to be pursued only when household chores are completed. However, women allowed to take weaving seriously can earn a healthy income, but they need support from their husbands to travel outside the village to procure materials, attend workshops, and network.
Men who attended the workshop immediately became more willing to help with childcare so that women could pursue their work in the evening. Some men even offered to become involved by helping procure materials and assisting in the weaving process.
Artisan Asha Pabla Frequents the New York Art Scene