Former United Nations under-secretary-general and executive director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, has been named this year’s recipient of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation 2021 Global Goalkeeper Award.
The award recognises a leader who has driven progress on a global scale toward achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs).
Mlambo-Ngcuka has been honoured for fighting for gender equality and her continued advocacy in addressing the Covid-19 pandemic’s disproportionate impact on women and girls.
“By shining a light on the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on women and girls, Mlambo-Ngcuka has ensured that global and local efforts to battle Covid-19 must take into account the acute disparities they face,” said Melinda French-Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
During her tenure as executive director of UN Women, Mlambi-Ngcuka played a vital role in helping to spearhead and deliver the Generation Equality Forum in July 2021.
The forum helped mobilise more than $40 billion (R593 billion) in commitments from member states, the private sector, philanthropists and civil society to drive transformative change for women and girls worldwide.
As part of its annual Goalkeepers campaign, the foundation also announced the winners of three additional Goalkeepers Global Goals Awards: Fairooz Faizah Beether from Bangladesh, Jenifer Colpas from Colombia and Satta Sheriff of Liberia.
Each awardee was recognised for their work supporting the Global Goals in their local communities.
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Beether was awarded this year’s Changemaker Award for her work promoting good health and wellbeing. The award is for individuals who inspired change using personal experience or from a position of leadership
Beether co-founded the Moner School – an online platform that raises awareness about mental health and ensures equal access to mental healthcare across Bangladesh.
Colpas bagged the Progress Award this year, which celebrates an individual who supports progress using science, technology, or business. Her work centres around improving access to clean water and sanitation.
Colpas is the co-founder and executive director of Tierra Grata – a social enterprise that develops low-cost, easy-to-install solutions providing access to clean energy, safe water, and sanitation services to rural communities in Colombia.
Liberia’s Sheriff won the Campaign Award for her work promoting gender equality.
Sheriff is the founder and executive director of Action for Justice and Human Rights (AJHR), a youth-led NGO founded to advocate and ensure access to justice and respect for human rights in Liberia, focusing mainly on helping women and girls.