The Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards happen every year at the John F. Kennedy Center, and this year I was one of many inspired audience members. Essentially these awards honor extraordinary global leaders who are working to protect and strengthen women’s rights across the world. Their vital voices are speaking out on topics ranging from increasing economic opportunity to ending gender-based violence, so of course they deserve a night of recognition and praise. Perhaps you’ve heard of some of this year’s presenters, which included Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Nicholas Kristof, Ann Curry, and America Ferrera…?
I don’t have to tell you about the epic-ness of the presenters. They are all fantastic people whom you’ve already heard of and their vast accomplishments are known. However, I’d like to tell you about some of the people I learned about. The lesser known, new faces from all over the world. This year’s honorees were Malala Yousafzai, the Kant brothers, Dr. Hawa Abdi, Sandra Gomes Melo, Manai Yaish Zraiq, and Tep Vanny. These amazing people are all making a difference for women rights globally, and therefore should absolutely be on your radar.
Introduced by Joe Biden were the Kant brothers, whom are changing the tides of violence against women and girls in India. They formed their organization Shakti Vahini in 2001, and it has become a platform for combating gender-based violence. It is largely because of Shakti Vahini that there have been legal and policy changes in India to include these issues. Much of what they do too is sensitivity training for the police, and they have reached thousands. With all of the news of gang rapes that comes out of India, I am glad to know that the Kant brothers are there and are leading the fight to change a culture of violence:
Among many of the other trailblazing honorees was Manal Yaish Zraiq from Palestine, who’s a businesswoman building economic opportunities for women of her country. She is leading the way with the Rawabi project, which will be the first planned city in Palestine. The Rawabi project is estimated to provide 10,000 jobs, which is crucial when Palestine has an unemployment rate of 24%. Manal is also responsible for creating the Business Women Forum- Palestine, which supports female entrepreneurs at every step of their business. It’s only been around a few years, and the organization has expanded impressively from 70 members to 800:
I encourage you to learn more about all of this year’s honorees and, if you’re feeling inspired, consider making a direct donation towards their vital work today.
Cover Photo Credit: VITAL VOICES
Videos Photo Credit VITAL VOICES