NGO Forum: women of Distinction Awardees

This year’s awards for the NGO CSW Women of Disticntion Awards went to two incredible women (

Bineta Diop, Founder and President of Femmes Africa Solidarité, spoke of the gruesome witness to murder of women during war and conflict. She recalled seeing the dead women, with their babies still slung on their backs, lying dead after a week. Her speech was filled with passion and compassion for the women brutalized by war and conflict.

Bineta Diop (Senegal), one of the most recognised organizations involved in engendering peace processes in Africa. She has led numerous peacebuilding programmes in the Great Lakes region (Burundi, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of the Congo), Mano River region (Ivory Coast, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone) and the Horn of Africa (Somalia and Sudan). Ms. Diop’s track record includes a women, peace and security initiative that resulted in the creation of a strong West African women’s movement, the Mano River Women’s Peace Network, which was awarded the United Nations General Assembly Prize in Human Rights in 2003. Ms. Diop also mobilised a network of African women’s organizations that played an instrumental role in achieving gender parity within the African Union Commission in 2003, which culminated in the election of five female Commissioners. She has demonstrated vision and leadership, and is recognised as a champion on women’s human rights and gender issues, not only in Africa but at the global level. Ms Diop is currently serving in the Global Civil Society Advisory Group of UN Women and as a member of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. Ms. Diop has received numerous honours and awards and in 2011 was named by TIME magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. In 2012, the United Nations-mandated University for Peace awarded her a “Doctor Honoris Causa in International Peace Studies” and the French government awarded her the prestigious “Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur”.

Tawakkel Karman was unable to join the Forum. The officials in Yeman did not issue her a Visa to travel. I mention this in particular because there was an outcry throughout the sessions on Monday – where are the lawyers to advocate and prevent governments from this type of oppression and limitation of women of distinction to have the freedom to travel to share their message of peace and hope.

Tawakkol Karman (Yemen) is the Yemeni political activist who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with two other female activists in 2011, becoming the youngest person ever to win the Prize. During the “Arab Spring” of 2010 and 2011, as activists were fighting entrenched rulers in countries like Egypt and Tunisia, Karman began leading Yemeni protests against the rule of President Saleh, earning the nickname “Mother of the Revolution.” She is also one of the founders of Women Journalists Without Chains, which works to provide a voice for women’s rights and freedom of expression in Yemen.

Posted in SI News.