.
In honor of International Women’s Day, this year’s Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards event was held at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts on March 9th. Under the theme “Women’s Leadership in an Insecure World,” this year’s award ceremony recognized four outstanding women from India, Nigeria, Cuba, and Iraq who pioneered vital social initiatives that brought a stable force of change in an insecure environment. [caption id="attachment_6897" align="alignnone" width="300"]Awardees, presenters, and representatives of Vital Voices Awardees, presenters, and representatives of Vital Voices[/caption] The Leadership in Public Life Award, presented by the Founder and President of the Children’s Defense Fund Marian Wright Edelman, was awarded to Hafsat Abiola-Costello of Nigeria. Daughter of Nigeria’s first elected president Moshood Abiola, Abiola-Costello has been heavily involved in women’s rights issues in Nigeria since the passing of her mother in 1996. In honor of her mother, Abiola-Costello founded the Kudirat Initiative for Democracy, an organization dedicated to helping women participate more in politics as well as end violence against women. Under her organization as well as her position as a cabinet member of the Ogun State government, Abiola-Costello has been able to champion for women’s rights and democracy throughout Nigeria as well as create a space where women’s voices can be heard. The Economic Empowerment Award, presented by the Founder of Theranos Elizabeth Holmes, was awarded to Akanksha Hazari of India. Finding that the majority of India has mobile phones yet lives in a ‘data dark’ world, Hazari set out to create a mobile platform that would connect whoever has a smartphone to the digital economy. This endeavor resulted in the creation of m.Paani, a loyalty-based platform that partners with micro businesses and rewards consumers who shop there with points that can be used to purchase necessities such as water filters. Through innovations like m.Paani, Hazari is able to stimulate India’s economy as well as create social change. The Human Rights Award, presented by fashion icon Diane Von Furstenberg, was awarded to Khanim Latif of Iraq. Founder of ASUDA – an NGO in Iraq dedicated to ending violence against women – Latif has assisted thousands of women who have been victims to ISIS attacks and sexual assault. An expert in gender-based violence, Latif has opened a women’s shelter in Kurdistan as well as trekked into dangerous territory to search for survivors of ISIS attacks. Her work has helped women across Iraq find safety and shelter in times of crisis, as well as aided in the plight for women’s rights in Iraq. The Light of Freedom Award, presented by journalist and Founder of Women in the World Tina Brown, was awarded to Yoani Sánchez of Cuba. In 2014 she founded Cuba’s first independent news source, 14ymedio, after gaining international fame with her blog Generación Y. Though the Cuban government has blocked 14ymedio in Cuba, Sánchez bypasses the censorship by printing the content on PDFs, transferring the articles to USB drives, and sending the content through emails. Her desire to circulate news based on fact has brought international attention to the realities of Cuba’s daily life and helped Cubans themselves experience news without censorship. [caption id="attachment_6898" align="alignnone" width="300"]Attendees at the Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards Attendees at the Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards with Founder of Theranos Elizabeth Holmes[/caption] These four women were the highlight of the 15th Annual Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards. Founded in 1999 by then-First Lady Hillary Clinton and former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Vital Voices was created to empower and assist rising female leaders around the globe. The organization’s Annual Global Leadership Awards are held to emphasize the positive changes these women bring in government, society, and the world.

About
Winona Roylance
:
Winona Roylance is Diplomatic Courier's Managing Editor and Special Series Editor.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.

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Vital Voices Honors Global Women

|Awardees, presenters, and representatives of Vital Voices |Attendees at the Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards
March 17, 2016

In honor of International Women’s Day, this year’s Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards event was held at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts on March 9th. Under the theme “Women’s Leadership in an Insecure World,” this year’s award ceremony recognized four outstanding women from India, Nigeria, Cuba, and Iraq who pioneered vital social initiatives that brought a stable force of change in an insecure environment. [caption id="attachment_6897" align="alignnone" width="300"]Awardees, presenters, and representatives of Vital Voices Awardees, presenters, and representatives of Vital Voices[/caption] The Leadership in Public Life Award, presented by the Founder and President of the Children’s Defense Fund Marian Wright Edelman, was awarded to Hafsat Abiola-Costello of Nigeria. Daughter of Nigeria’s first elected president Moshood Abiola, Abiola-Costello has been heavily involved in women’s rights issues in Nigeria since the passing of her mother in 1996. In honor of her mother, Abiola-Costello founded the Kudirat Initiative for Democracy, an organization dedicated to helping women participate more in politics as well as end violence against women. Under her organization as well as her position as a cabinet member of the Ogun State government, Abiola-Costello has been able to champion for women’s rights and democracy throughout Nigeria as well as create a space where women’s voices can be heard. The Economic Empowerment Award, presented by the Founder of Theranos Elizabeth Holmes, was awarded to Akanksha Hazari of India. Finding that the majority of India has mobile phones yet lives in a ‘data dark’ world, Hazari set out to create a mobile platform that would connect whoever has a smartphone to the digital economy. This endeavor resulted in the creation of m.Paani, a loyalty-based platform that partners with micro businesses and rewards consumers who shop there with points that can be used to purchase necessities such as water filters. Through innovations like m.Paani, Hazari is able to stimulate India’s economy as well as create social change. The Human Rights Award, presented by fashion icon Diane Von Furstenberg, was awarded to Khanim Latif of Iraq. Founder of ASUDA – an NGO in Iraq dedicated to ending violence against women – Latif has assisted thousands of women who have been victims to ISIS attacks and sexual assault. An expert in gender-based violence, Latif has opened a women’s shelter in Kurdistan as well as trekked into dangerous territory to search for survivors of ISIS attacks. Her work has helped women across Iraq find safety and shelter in times of crisis, as well as aided in the plight for women’s rights in Iraq. The Light of Freedom Award, presented by journalist and Founder of Women in the World Tina Brown, was awarded to Yoani Sánchez of Cuba. In 2014 she founded Cuba’s first independent news source, 14ymedio, after gaining international fame with her blog Generación Y. Though the Cuban government has blocked 14ymedio in Cuba, Sánchez bypasses the censorship by printing the content on PDFs, transferring the articles to USB drives, and sending the content through emails. Her desire to circulate news based on fact has brought international attention to the realities of Cuba’s daily life and helped Cubans themselves experience news without censorship. [caption id="attachment_6898" align="alignnone" width="300"]Attendees at the Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards Attendees at the Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards with Founder of Theranos Elizabeth Holmes[/caption] These four women were the highlight of the 15th Annual Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards. Founded in 1999 by then-First Lady Hillary Clinton and former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Vital Voices was created to empower and assist rising female leaders around the globe. The organization’s Annual Global Leadership Awards are held to emphasize the positive changes these women bring in government, society, and the world.

About
Winona Roylance
:
Winona Roylance is Diplomatic Courier's Managing Editor and Special Series Editor.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.