Laureates 2009


ASIA · India

Obstacles show our strength

Coming from a conservative rural background in Northern India, this is the story of a woman who had a vision for empowering women within the patriarchal society to which she belongs. Traditionally, women are kept in the ‘Purdah’ – the practice of preventing women from being seen by men – which does not allow women the very basic and simple pleasures of life. Be it through ‘Self-Help Groups’ (SHG), forming a Federation for women, organizing protests against the Village governing body, or mobilizing members of her community for environmental issues, Anita Raghov has consistently worked toward giving women a platform to raise their voices and break barriers that impede their progress and self-reliance. Credit, in part, goes to Dr. Kiran Bedi’s Navjyoti India Foundation who channelized Anita’s talents, sharpened her skills, and enabled her to realize her long-term goals.

Read more: Anita RAGHAV

Assumpta NGOZIKA

AFRICA · Nigeria

AIDS had a woman’s face

The prevalence of HIV/AIDS discrimination in Nigeria in conjunction with insufficient medical resources has made it difficult for rural communities to establish not only systems of support, but provide essential medical care to people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHA). Assumpta Reginald (33), founder of ‘Womankind Nigeria for women living with HIV and AIDS in 2005, did not just become a community advocate against HIV/AIDS discrimination, but became a voice for all of those who have been repressed or discriminated against as a result of their contraction of HIV/AIDS. Assumpta went before her community and country at great personal risk through newspaper, radio, and television interviews to discuss life with HIV/AIDS. She has courageously lent her face to the fight to end ignorance and intolerance against PLHA within a male culture that believes HIV/AIDS can be seen on the face.

Read more: Assumpta NGOZIKA


AFRICA · Burkina Faso

A tireless creative innovator

A high-level mobilizer, an exceptional integrity and complete dedication for the development of the poorest of the poor, characterize Catherine Ouedraogo (47, originally from Réo). She is as comfortable with men as she is with women, an important ability for the mobilization of the population in rural areas. This explains her impressive impact. The prize honors her work in mobilizing the whole East-Center Quada region of Burkina Faso, which allowed her to reach exceptional results in a short period of time.

Read more: Catherine OUEDRAOGO-KANSSOLÉ

Hlengiwe "LEO" MCHUNU

AFRICA · South Africa

Fighting the silent killer HIV/AIDS

Hlengiwe ‘Leo’ Mchunu’s (43) journey toward becoming recognized as ‘Mama Africa’ in her community began on two levels: first, the personal level of losing almost all of her eight brothers and sisters to AIDS; second, with two little orphan girls. When walking through her rural village of Qudeni, Leo saw two girls (ages 3 and 5) sitting abandoned by a near empty food pot, un-washed, and terrified. Leo kept walking, but only as far as it took her to go back to her house, grab a washbasin, a set of clean clothes, and then return to care for these two AIDS orphans. Too many people would have kept walking as a result of the stigma directed against those affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Read more: Hlengiwe "LEO" MCHUNU

Khabar LAHARIYA (Rural Newspaper)

ASIA · India

Khabar Lahariya (name of the rural newspaper)

‘New Wave’ begun with 8 Rural Women Journalists

In the Bundelkhand region of India, 8 rural women began a newspaper to spread and promote information on life in rural areas. The patriarchal newspaper system does not leave much space for either women’s news or work. Khabar Lahariya (meaning ‘New Waves’), a small newspaper written in Bundelkhand’s local dialect of Bundeli, is run entirely by women from the process of gathering information through investigative journalism to the final distribution of the paper to the surrounding area.

Read more: Khabar LAHARIYA (Rural Newspaper)

Madeleine GBLIA

AFRICA · Ivory Coast

Facing adversity with bare hands

At the beginning of the century, the Ivory Coast went through a cruel civil war which destroyed a great deal of the wealth of what had been one of the most prosperous regions of sub-Saharan Africa. As usually the case in civil wars, the civilian population suffered the most, women and children especially. When the civil war started in the mountainous Western region of Man, numerous members of the Grace Cooperative of Women of Ivory Coast lost everything. Their husbands were killed defending the villages, the children were taken as child soldiers to neighboring Liberia; so many of the women had to flee.

Read more: Madeleine GBLIA


AMERICAS · Philippines

Feminism as a tool for development

For generations, the North Eastern region of Brazil has been legendary for its great poverty and the totally submissive role of its women. The amazing successes of Maria Lucia, a 43-year-old social educator, seem to indicate that there is a link between the two. Since 1996, she has been working for a pioneering feminist organization, Cunhã Coletivo Feminista. Since 2003, she has been stimulating the development of activities related to developing a higher level of consciousness and social organization among women agricultural laborers in the Paraiba State.

Read more: Maria Lúcia LOPES de OLIVEIRA

Mother Petra MACLIING

ASIA · Philippines

Protecting indigenous land culture

Over the course of a lifetime of activism for the Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines, Mother Petra Macliing (77) has never wavered in her understanding that the identity and life of Indigenous Peoples is intrinsically tied to the protection and conservation of the land. Given the honorific title of ‘Mother’ by her tribe, she is a living representation of the role of empowerment rural women play in protecting their land and culture.

Read more: Mother Petra MACLIING


AFRICA · Rwanda

Quiet strength in the midst of tempest

The physical and moral misery, the desolation and isolation which characterized the victims of the 1994 genocide which also eliminated almost her entire family, including her husband, pushed Odette Kayirere to become one of the founders of the ‘Widows Association of the Agahozo Genocide’ (AVEGA in French), which grouped over 20,000 widows. Despite her own terrible loss, she rapidly organized small solidarity groups between widows.

Read more: Odette KAYIRERE

Otgonbayar CHULTEM

ASIA · Mongolia

Following in a mother’s footsteps

After achieving an undergraduate degree in Law from Irkutsk State University in Russia, and attaining a position in the Mongolian government as a member of the Great State Khural, it would at first glance appear as if Otgonbayar Chultem (54) had left her rural roots behind forever. Instead, Otgonbayar returned to rural life to follow in the footsteps of her mother – a former advocate and organizer for organizations that supported rural women.

Read more: Otgonbayar CHULTEM