Laureates 2012

Bendettah Muthina

Eastern Africa · Kenya

Always Searching for New Opportunities to Empower Women

Since Bendettah Muthina (40) founded three local women’s groups in the 1990s, she has been teaching women about hygiene, health, women’s rights, and girls’ rights to education. In late July 2008, Bendettah joined with the founder of Project Africa, and subsequently founded a new PA chapter in Lunga Lunga, Kenya. She later started PA-centers in two more villages, Godo and Perani. Now, Bendettah continues to work for the rights of women and girls in countless capacities.

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Bhan Sahu

South Central Asia · India

From Barely Educated Young Girl, to Homeless Widow, to Inspiring Activist 

Bhan Sahu’s (39) life has been anything but easy. However, eager to change her life and the life of her children, Bhan committed herself to changing the system and ensuring rights for India’s rural and poor. She found a job in an NGO as a paid volunteer. Carrying the youngest child on her back, Bhan would cycle for miles, visiting villages where she would inform villagers of important news within their local and state government. She helped the illiterate villagers access new government plans for poverty elimination and rural employment.

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Jacqueline Musugani Nyangoma

Middle Africa · D.R. Congo

Empowering Women and Lobbying for the Right to Dignity

Jacqueline Musugani Nyangoma (48), married and mother of 7 children, is a grassroots women’s rights leader from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, working passionately to ensure justice and peace for the women of her country. In order to help the women of her community in South Kivu, she leads “Initiatives for Women in Difficult Situations for Integrated Development” (IFESIDI). As secretary general, Jacqueline represents rural women who fall victim to rape and violence in eastern RDC.

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Matilde Lucio

South America · Argentina

A Compassionate Leader, Dedicated to the Indigenous Cause

 Matilde Lucio (64) is an indigenous leader, who has been at the forefront of the struggle for indigenous rights in the South American Chaco Region. Despite leaving primary school at a young age to work in the fields with her family, Matilde has played a key role in the protection of indigenous culture and identity, while also promoting sustainable development and the environmental conservation.

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Mehtaben Nagji Gadhvi

South Central Asia · India

From Poverty to Prosperity to Leadership 

Mehtaben Gadhvi (52) got married at 14 to a 40-year-old violent, unemployed husband, later giving birth to 6 girls and 1 boy. Before joining SEWA (Self-employed women’s association), Mehtaben never ate with other women nor talked to any men. However, after getting involved in various training sessions, she began to speak before women and men about issues in her village, listening to the villagers’ problems and initiating activities on their behalf.

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Nune Sarukhanyan

Western Asia · Armenia

Working With Farmers as Equal Partners 

As a woman who was raised in a traditional Armenian family in a small village, Nune (49) understood early on that inequalities existed between men and women. After working and traveling throughout different villages and regions in Armenia, she began to understand that these inequalities were systematic and widespread. Since then, Nune has been focused on raising the status of women.

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Rose Cunningham

Central America · Nicaragua

Intergenerational Dialogue Holds the Seeds for Eliminating Violence Against Women 

Rose Cunningham (60) is from the Nicaraguan Miskito community, which has been internally displaced for several years. She founded Wangki Tangni as a way not only to relieve the immediate effects of poverty, malnutrition, and disease, but also to build a sustainable project to address the prolonging existence of such issues in the Indigenous communities of Nicaragua’s North Atlantic Coast. Through Wangki Tangni, Rose created programs assisting indigenous people to develop the skills needed for self-government, protection of the regions biodiversity, and preservation of their traditional values.

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San Vannary

Southeast Asia · Cambodia

Preserving Traditional Knowledge, While Increasing Village Sustainability… 

San Vannary (33) is a Cambodian mother of 3 young children, who has been working in positive activism throughout life. Though she is a young mother, Vannary also works for a non-governmental organization, traveling all over Cambodia working with women’s issues, such as abuse, HIV AIDS, and gender awareness. Fuelled by a love for her country and a commitment to social change for her people, Vannary has envisaged, designed and implemented projects and training ranging from rural gardens, decentralized democracy training, and sex and body awareness education. Vannary worked with “Helen Keller International” and ActionAid International-Cambodia, for over 12 years and has continued to collaborate with the same rural communities in her personal ventures. She has actively implemented 15 herbal gardens in 7 provinces during her time with ActionAid and has set up 10 women’s self-help health rooms with attached herbal gardens.

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Tatsiana Guryna

Eastern Europe · Belarus

Developing Rural Regions Affected by Chernobyl 

Tatsiana Guryna (64) has dedicated herself to the development of local communities and territories in the Chernobyl affected areas of Belarus. She began her work with rural villages as a schoolteacher of chemistry and biology. Her strict dedication was recognized and she was offered a position in the Department of Education of the Slauharad District Executive Committee, in which she worked for 8 years representing the direct concerns of villagers.

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Zahra Aderdour

Northern Africa · Morocco

Outspoken in Directing Attention to Women’s Rights 

Zahra Aderdour (46) is an incredible pioneer for women’s rights in rural Morocco. She is first and foremost a nurse trained in women’s healthcare and midwifery. Zahra works in Tighmi in the Tiznit province, a severely socially conservative town, in which women are not allowed to leave the house. When she started working at the health center, women did not attend. However, after many years working within this town and developing positive relationships with both men and women, she now assists rural women and children who were not served by healthcare professionals in the past. Her position allows her to teach women about hygiene, sanitation, disease prevention, and HIV/AIDS awareness. Additionally, she has led two training sessions for birth attendants.

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