EWL News

YWCA - First Mary Robinson award for young women’s leadership in human rights

[YWCA, Zurich, 12 July 2011] The World Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) Council, a member of the EWL, organises the International Women’s Summit (IWS) which is a global conference on the cutting-edge issues in the lives of women.

Mary Robinson, the first female President of Ireland (1990-1997) and present Chair of the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice, gave a keynote speech in Zurich, Switzerland to present the first ever Mary Robinson Award for Young Women’s Leadership in Human Rights, at the 4th International Women’s Summit, organised as part of the World YWCA Council 2011.

Awards were presented to Jacinta Nyachae, the founder of the AIDS Law Project in Nairobi, Kenya and Nancy Kapembwa, a psycho-socal counsellor from Zambia who uses a preventative approach in schools and communities to empower women and girls. Two YWCA associations actively involved in human rights were also awarded: the YWCA of Belize with its innovative use of barbershops and beauty salons as resource centres for HIV and AIDS education and dissemination and YWCA Canada for its groundbreaking programmes that consistently and strategically further human rights for women and girls.

The four recipients, who were selected from an extensive list of potential candidates, serve as an inspiration and hope for women worldwide. They were judged on impact, community empowerment, innovation, human rights focus, adaptability, motivation, and partnership with others.

In the words of Jacinta Nyachae: "If I have changed a few souls, I will have done my share in serving humanity"

In her speech, Ms Robinson congratulated the awardees and emphasized the critical work that the recipients of the award and delegates from the conference are doing around the world to further human rights. Ms. Robinson demonstrated the need for further advocacy: "The world itself has woken up to the largely untapped potential of young girls and women." Speaking on issues such as child marriage, education, and healthcare, Ms. Robinson stressed the need for both broad alliances and work within local communities, "The most effective way to bring about the change we need is to empower girls themselves, but they need examples to follow, they need young women leaders to stand up and have their voices heard."

The full plenary hall resounded with applause and admiration both for Mary Robinson and the four awardees and the search for next year’s candidates for the award has already begun.

For more information visit: http://www.worldywcacouncil.org/Mary-Robinson-Award

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