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PRESS RELEASE: Dr Özlem Türeci, BioNTech’s chief medical officer, wins Woman of Europe Award

[Brussels, 1 December 2021] In the ceremony held this evening, Prof. Özlem Türeci was awarded a Woman of Europe Award in the Woman in Business category. Also Angela Merkel, Jenny Rasche, and Greta Thunberg won in the Woman in Power, Action, and Youth Activism categories respectively. The award ceremony, the sixth annual Women of Europe Awards, was organised digitally by the European Movement International and the European Women’s Lobby.

According to the jury, representing extraordinary women from politics, business, civil society and academia, Prof. Özlem Türeci won the Woman in Business Award for her strong leadership in developing a vaccine against Covid-19, and for her commitment and hard work to tackle the pandemic and protect millions of lives.

Upon receiving the Woman in Business Award, Prof. Özlem Türeci said, “I am inspired every day by the intense focus and dedication of the scientific community, that finds its strength in its diversity and breaks down barriers, in the face of an unprecedented global challenge.”

The winners in each category:

Woman in Power Award: Angela Merkel - Chancellor of Germany
Woman in Action Award: Jenny Rasche - Founder and Chairwomen, Kinderhilfe für Siebenbürgen
Woman in Business Award: Prof. Özlem Türeci - Physician, Scientist, and Entrepreneur, BioNTech
Woman in Youth Activism Award: Greta Thunberg - Climate Change Activist, Fridays for Future

During her introductory remarks, former High-Representative of the EU and former winner of the Women in Power Award, current Rector of the College of Europe and member of the jury, Federica Mogherini, said: “I would like to celebrate the power of the role models that these women represent. These women, and the women represented by them, are the backbone of our societies and inspire so many other women with their daily work.”

"Every year, the Women of Europe Awards highlight the tenacity and courage of women who are at the forefront of our societies. As we still see the long-term economic and social consequences for women from the pandemic, these Awards are even more timely and relevant." said Eva Maydell MEP, President of the European Movement International and member of the jury.

“In the context of the worrying regressive tendencies in women’s rights witnessed during the pandemic, it’s fundamental to give space to women’s achievements and contributions to our society. From their role in protecting our climate and environment, to mobilizing for human rights and against discrimination, and stepping up in leadership and entrepreneurial positions even at a young age, we’re proud to celebrate outstanding women of Europe from such diverse backgrounds,” said Réka Sáfrány, President of the European Women’s Lobby and member of the jury.

Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen, Director General at the European Commission’s DG Communications, and member of the jury said, “It is a privilege to participate in an award ceremony that recognises the contribution of so many women leaders in Europe: in politics, business and youth activism. Women from all walks of life across Europe will be able to see themselves in their achievements and aspirations. And events like the Women of Europe Awards should inspire everyone - both women and men - to reflect on the fundamental importance of equality and diversity for leadership and power."

The Women of Europe Awards 2021 were awarded in more categories:

Winning the Woman in Power Award: Angela Merkel - Chancellor of Germany

According to the Jury, Merkel won the Woman in Power Award for her role in leading Germany and the EU through a turbulent period, for her inspirational character and strong advocacy for European dialogue and integration

Winning the Woman in Action Award: Jenny Rasche, Founder and Chairwomen of Kinderhilfe für Siebenbürgen

According to the jury, Rasche won the Woman in Action Award for her extensive and inspiring work organising and supporting the integration of the Roma community in Europe, highlighting the many children who have gained access to education and care as a result of her work.

Upon receiving the Woman in Action Award, Rasche said, “Active and determined women can achieve more than any army ever could. I stand for women everywhere, and this Award shows that women are seen and that our commitment to positive change is recognised.”

Winning the Woman in Youth Activism Award: Greta Thunberg - Climate Change Activist, Fridays for Future

According to the jury, Thunberg won the Women in Youth Activism Award for her work in raising the global awareness of the risks posed by climate change, and for her courageous leadership in support for climate justice, social change, and (youth) community organising.

About the Women of Europe Awards

The Women of Europe Awards are handed out annually to honour and celebrate women striving to advance the European project in their professional or private capacity. In Europe, the role of women remains largely unrecognised and still needs to be supported, highlighted and increasingly recognised. As such, the awards showcase vital contributions of women and seek to increase women’s presence and involvement in shaping Europe and its future.

Former winners, per category, include:

Woman in Power: Margrethe Vestager (2016), Federica Mogherini (2017), Marianne Thyssen (2018), Laura Codruța Kövesi (2019), Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya (2020).
Woman in Action: Adela Ionela Dinu (2016), Adriana Lettrari (2017), Orla O’Connor, Ailbhe Smyth & Grainne Griffin (2018), Milena Kadieva (2019), European Federation of Nurses Associations (2020).
Woman in Business: Melody Hossaini (2017), Axelle Lemaire (2018), Eleonora Azzaoui & Vera Günther (2019), Sara Nuru (2020).
Woman in Youth Activism: Mina Jaf (2017), Sigrid Friis Proschowsky (2018), Johanna Nejedlová (2019), Mariya Atanasova (2020).

The European Women’s Lobby and European Movement is pleased to be partnering with Euronews, Europe’s leading international news channel, for the 2021 Women of Europe Awards. We would also like to thank our sponsors, Metro AG and ACCA, as well as our digital partner, META, for their contributions to the ceremony.

Press contact

Christian Skrivervik - Head of Press and Communications, European Movement International

Adriana Paradiso - Media and Communications Coordinator
European Women’s Lobby

For more information about the Women of Europe Awards 2021, please click here.

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