Laureates 2013

Armelina Tsiki - Lesotho

Changing the lives of girls and young women through education

From a young age, Armelina Tsiki (66) felt called to join the "Sisters of the Good Shepherd." So it was no surprise when she took her vows as a nun. She also earned a certificate in primary school teaching, and later completed a BA in education. Armelina sees education as the key to a better life for all, especially women and girls. Currently, she is the principal of St. Rodrigue High School in Lesotho, which she once attended. It is an all-girls school in the deeply patriarchal Catholic Church community, situated in a country where men hold most power at the local level.

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Aziza Jebbari - Morocco

Committing to sustainable development

Aziza (35) is from Figuig, an oasis town in the Sahara, situated in east Morocco by the border with Algeria. Since childhood, she has been involved in community life for sustainable development in this remote area surrounded by rugged, mountainous wilderness. In 2002, she became project chief of PRODECOM for the promotion of handcrafts of Mediterranean countries, financed by UNESCO and the European Union.

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Djaouida Lassel - Algeria

Leading the way as the first female farmer of the region

Although Djaouida (48) grew up in a modest household in northern Algeria's Blida Province, she found her way to higher education. After earning a degree in agri-food economy in 1992, she decided to invest formally in poultry (chickens and turkeys) back in her rural community. She is recognized as being the first women farmer of the region.

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Eunice Uchechioma Agu - Nigeria

Using football as an educational tool 

Eunice Agu (29) is an orphan, who was raised by her grandmother. She grew up in a very poor community in Nigeria, where girls received little or no education. Not accepting her fate, she earned her own school fees by doing farm work for people and carrying their loads to market. Financing her own education from primary school to university, Eunice graduated with a degree in Business Administration and Management. She began a career in banking, but then something else caught her eye: an opportunity to help underprivileged children achieve their dreams.

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Lori Lea Pourier - United States of America

Revitalizing Native American communities through the arts

As an Oglala Lakota woman born and raised on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, Lori Pourier (50) knew from a young age the invisibility, isolation, and hardships indigenous women face. She has dedicated her adult life to addressing those problems through empowerment and restoration of Native American cultural practices and tradition. Thinking outside the box and recognizing opportunities as they arose, Lori created new and innovative ways to benefit Native American people through combining arts and culture, business and finance, philanthropy, policy development, social justice activism, and education.

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Monette Abatord - Martinique

Advocating for sustainable development and small farmers

Born to farm laborer parents, Monette Abatord (48) is familiar with the hardships of rural life. Despite challenges, she continued her education and earned a degree as a dressmaker. In 2005, she took over the family farm of a few acres to start growing food crops. She was especially interested in arboriculture and citrus fruit growing (dasheen, yams, bananas, cabbages, goyavas, among others). She faced significant administrative, financial, and equipment related difficulties when setting up her project, but she pressed forward, undaunted.

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Reverend Mai Ki - Myanmar

Seeing equal worth in every individual

Growing up as the daughter of illiterate parents in a poor rural village in Chin state, Myanmar, Mai Ki (38) was determined to take control of her life. She pursued an education all the way to India where she earned a Masters in Theology. Ordained as the first female minister of the Mara Evangelical Church, Mai returned home to use her skills and training to improve rural life in villages, especially for women, children, and people with disabilities.

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Seynabou Male Cissé - Senegal

Creating lasting peace

In 1999, Seynabou Male Cissé (60) held a forum with other women working for peace in the Casamance region of southern Sénégal, West Africa. (Religiously and ethnically distinct from the rest of the country, Casamance has been torn by conflict fueled by a separatist movement that began in 1982 and has become increasingly violent and fractionalized.) The forum led to the birth of USOFORAL, meaning "Let's join hands" in the Diola language.

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Sladjana Ujić - Bosnia-Herzegovina

Creating a new paradigm for rural women

Born in Gucevo village in the Rogatica municipality, Sladjana Ujić (43) never met her mother and rarely saw her father. She grew up in her grandparents' home, dominated by an aggressive grandfather who drank. Her circumstances made her feel like an outsider. Trying to fit in, Sladjana followed the patriarchal traditions that surrounded her. Even though she was an excellent student, she gave up formal education in favor of marriage, motherhood, and working the land.

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Suchismita Majumdar - India

Rehabilitating the disabled in rural communities

Suchismita Majumdar (50) has dedicated her life's work to empowering people with disabilities living in rural areas. Her passion for such work is driven by her own personal story of contracting polio at an early age. She underwent several corrective surgeries, but still suffers a locomotor disability. This physical challenge has taught her the importance of self-advocacy and given her impetus to understand the special needs of the disabled living in Assam, India.

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