What brings together individuals and organizations such as Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani student shot by the Taliban for her outspoken support of girls’ education, front-line polio workers, the global action campaign 10×10, and GE Africa? The answer: courage and a determination to work for a better world. The four will also come together in New York City to be honored at the 2013 Global Leadership Awards Dinner in New York City this November.
Malala’s shooting and subsequent recovery has transformed her into a global activist, as she continues to draw the world’s attention to countries like Pakistan, where persistent gender barriers prohibit girls from attaining an education.
Not only did UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declare November 10 “Malala Day,” but he has also dubbed Malala a “daughter of the United Nations.” Malala will receive the Champion for Global Change Award for educating and empowering girls, thereby helping to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of closing the gender gap in education.
Like Malala, front-line polio workers are being honored for their constant courage in the face of violence in many of the areas where they work. The international community is on the brink of completely eradicating polio, thanks in large part to the efforts of these workers. In the three countries where polio remains endemic—Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria—these vaccinators are literally going door-to-door in their immunization efforts. And considering a number of recent attacks, these workers often operate under heightened security, risking their own lives in order to save the lives of others.
Also like Malala, 10×10, a global action campaign for girls’ education, will be awarded for its advocacy. In particular, 10×10 is responsible for Girl Rising, the critically-acclaimed documentary that features nine noted authors and nine famous actresses, telling the stories of nine girls struggling for an education in nine different countries. The film’s critical success proves the role storytelling can play in shaping our collective understanding of the challenges facing girls worldwide, and how addressing those challenges will lead to widespread societal benefits.
While human rights, education, and global health will be key focuses of this year’s Global Leadership Awards Dinner, economic development and environmental sustainability will be covered as well. To that end, GE Africa will be honored for its efforts to provide clean energy and water for African nations.
Hosted by the United Nations Foundation and the United Nations Association of the USA, the annual dinner has a 55-year-old tradition of honoring individuals and organizations dedicated to promoting peace, prosperity, and social justice throughout the world.