Below are the past recipients of the Ginetta Sagan Fund who were recongized for their work to protect the liberty and lives of women and children in areas where human rights violations are widespread.
2012 Ginetta Sagan Award Winner:
Jenni Williams - Zimbabwe
Activist Jenni Williams, a founder of the social justice movement Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), is the recipient of the 2012 Ginetta Sagan award. WOZA encourages women and men to speak out about issues they may be too fearful to raise alone, including domestic violence and rape. In nearly a decade of struggle and hundreds of protests, more than 3,000 WOZA supporters have spent time in police custody. Jenni Williams has been beaten, imprisoned without food or medical supplies and threatened with execution. Williams has said the WOZA slogan, “Tough Love,” reflects her conviction that “the power of love can conquer the love of power.” Read the press release.
Previous Award Winners:
2010 - Rebecca Masika Katsuva, Democratic Republic of Congo
Rebecca and her daughters were raped, and her husband killed, by combatants in Congo's long-running civil war in 1998. The following year, Katsuva began a "listening house" for women like her, in her home in an isolated, conflict-ridden region of South Kivu, far from urban medical aid and legal protections. She began taking women and children into her home to rebuild their lives. In 2002, she renamed her organization the Association des Personnes Desherites Unies pour le Development (APDUD). Today, the Association has helped nearly 6,000 women, finding them medical care, sheltering them in nearly 50 houses built by the Association, which is supported by a communal farm. Read the press release and bio (PDF) and 2010 Ginetta Sagan Fund Newsletter (PDF).
2009 - Yolanda Becerra Vega, Colombia
Yolanda Becerra Vega who for nearly 30 years has courageously fought to help women in Colombia resist political marginalization and raise their voices against the country's long-running conflict. As National Director of the 3,500-member Popular Women's Organization (Organización Femenina Popular), she has endured physical attacks and constant threats and intimidation by armed groups. Through marches rallies and street theatre, Becerra Vega has campaigned against violence and impunity. Her organization also offers women economic assistance, training, education, health services and legal aid for victims of human rights violations. Read the press release (PDF).
2008 - Betty Makoni, Zimbabwe
Betty Makoni is one of Africa’s most important new voices for gender justice. Since 1999, Ms. Makoni has been building the Girl Child Network (GCN), a loose network of organization that trains girls to succeed in school, thrive in the home and society and resist sexual abuse and rape - or, if they have become victims, to survive with pride. The Network today serves over 30,000 girls in 45 districts across Zimbabwe. Ms. Makoni’s work has won supporters in Zimbabwe and internationally, including the 2007 World Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child. Nevertheless, Ms. Makoni repeatedly has been threatened, arrested, and imprisoned. In 2007, she was jailed twice: for allegedly “sneaking” foreign journalists into Zimbabwe, and for allegedly violating child protection laws by helping arrange to televise the testimonies of young rape victims. Read the press release (PDF) | Read the Winter 2008 Ginetta Fund Newsletter (PDF)
2007 - Lydia Cacho Ribeiro, Mexico
Ms. Lydia Cacho Ribeiro is one of Mexico's leading defenders of children's and women's rights. An investigative journalist and a specialist on gender-based violence, Ms. Cacho founded and directs the Centro Integral de Atención a las Mujeres (CIAM) in Cancún, a crisis center and shelter for victims of sex crimes, gender-based violence, and trafficking. CIAM provides free services to anyone seeking assistance and protection. To expose the sexual assault on children in Mexico, Ms. Cacho published a book entitled Los Demonios del Eden: El poder detrás de la pornografía infantil- 2004 (The Demons of Eden: The power behind child pornography). Throughout the course of her advocacy work, Ms. Cacho has received numerous death threats, and in 1999, was raped in an attempt to intimidate her. This particular incident emboldened her even further to protect and advance the rights of women and children in a country where impunity is widespread and commonly accepted as a part of daily life. On December 16, 2005, Ms. Cacho was arrested and denied access to her lawyer and medicine. In response to these intimidating tactics, Ms. Cacho filed a successful counter-suit for corruption and for violation of her human rights. In this regard, Ms. Cacho is the first woman in Mexico who has ever filed a federal suit against a Governor, a District Attorney, and a judge for corruption and attempted rape in prison. Furthermore, in May 2007, she will be the first woman in Mexican history to take a woman's rights case to the Mexican Supreme Court.
2006 - Ljiljana Raicevic, Serbia and Montenegro
Raicevic was one of the first human rights defenders in her country to raise the issue of human trafficking and its negative consequences on women's human rights. In 1999, she founded the Women's Safe House, the firstshelter for women in Montenegro. The shelter serves asthe focal point of service delivery and advocacy work for women who are victims of family violence and human trafficking. Recognizing the need for a better protection program for female victims, Raicevic and the Women's Safe House successfully lobbied for the adoption of the Witness Protection Law by the Montenegrin Parliament.
2005 - Hawa Aden Mohamed, Somalia
Hawa Aden Mohamed has devoted her life to the betterment of Somali women in a country torn apart by civil war. Ms Mohamed is the founder of the Galkayo Education Center for Peace and Development (GECPD). The centre serves over 500 women and children in many towns and villages with medical care, vocational and income-generating trainings, support for more than 50 orphans, and the only public school for girls in the area. Since its establishment GECPD has worked for the total elimination of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), which is widely practiced in Somalia.
2004 - Nebahat Akkoc, Turkey
A Kurdish teacher from Diyarbakir in Eastern Turkey, Ms Akkoc responded to her own experience of political and sexual abuse, including the murder of her husband and her arrest and torture, by founding the organization Ka-Mer (Women's Center) to advance women's rights in southeast Anatolia, Turkey. Today there are branches of Ka-Mer in five other Anatolian cities providing legal and psychological counseling for abused women.Recently Ka-Mer is offerring crisis line help, direct assistance, and intervention for women and family members impacted by Honor Killings.
2003 - Sonia Pierre, Dominican Republic
As Executive Director of Movimiento de Mujeres de Dominico-Hatianas, (MUDHA), Sonia Pierre works to promote greater awareness of the deep-rooted challenges facing women and children of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic. MUDHA challenges both gender discrimination and racism in the Dominican Republic by empowering women, providing access to basic social services, and also challenging racist laws and practices that maintain people of Haitian descent in conditions of poverty.
2002 - Jeannine Mukanirwa, Democratic Republic of Congo / Canada
Jeannine Mukanirwa worked for the Promotion et Appui aux Initiatives Feminines (PAIF), a women's human rights organization in Goma to informwomen of their rights, and provide concrete assistance through self-funded community-based projects. As one of the few voices in eastern Congo willingto speak out against rape and other highly sensitive issues by directly confronting military and civilian authorities, Ms Mukanirwa was threatened with death and arrested many times. In 2001 she fled to Canada, where shecontinues to work on behalf of PAIF.
2000 - Helen Akongo, Uganda
Former child soldiers, children who have been seized, tortured, and forced at gunpoint to become rebels in the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in northern Uganda, have become the life's work of Helen Akongo, who worked with GUSCO, the Gulu Support the Children Organization. Ms. Akongo's special concern is the support - physically, emotionally and spiritually - of the girls who have escaped and come to GUSCO from the bush, especially those who are pregnant or with children.
2000 - Giulia Tamayo Leon, Peru / Spain
Since 1997, Giulia Tamayo Leon, a prominent women's rights activist and human rights lawyer from Lima, Peru, has documented human rights abuses against low-income women in both rural and urban communities. While campaigning against cases of forced sterilization of women in Peru, Ms Tamayo and her family received death threats. Now living in exile in Spain, Ms Tamayo works for the Madrid office of Amnesty International.
2000 - Hina Jilani, Pakistan
In 1981 Hina Jilani co-founded the first all-female law firm in Pakistan and later established a women's legal aid program for Pakistani women, including those seeking to divorce abusive husbands. As a result Ms Jilani has been the target of violent attacks, including the "honor killing" of a client inher office. In recognition of her work, she has been appointed the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders.
1999 - Sima Wali, Afghanistan / USA
Sima Wali, President of Refugee Women in Development, Inc., has been advocating for Afghan women and men for over 20 years, when she narrowly escaped from Afghanistan to resettle in Washington, DC. Since the fall ofthe Taliban, Ms. Wali has returned periodically to Afghanistan to carry out needs assessments and lead capacity-building trainings for local nonprofits. She also served as one of only three women delegates to the Bonn peace process in December 2001.
1999 - Adriana Portillo-Bartow, El Salvador / Guatemala / USA
Adriana Portillo-Bartow has paid dearly for her political commitment, first when she was forced to flee from El Salvador to Guatemala and then when her father, stepmother, sister, sister-in-law, and two daughters, then aged nine and eleven, were "disappeared" in 1981. Fleeing to the USA in 1985, Ms Portillo-Bartow founded the "Where Are the Children?" Project which pursues the truth about the disappeared children of Guatemala. Ms Portillo-Bartow currently works for Amnesty International USA in its Mid-West Office.
1998 - Beatrice Mukansinga, Rwanda
Beatrice Mukansinga founded MBWIRANDUMVA ("Speak, I am Listening") to aid women disabled, traumatized, and left without homes or familiesfollowing the genocide that killed thousands in Rwanda. MBWIRANDUMVA provides counseling, medical assistance, shelter, food, and skills to help women heal emotionally and physically and become economicallyself-sufficient.
1997 - Mangala Sharma, Bhutan / Nepal / USA
Mangala Sharma works to assist the thousands of refugee Bhutanese women who had been raped, tortured, and shunned by their families, Mangala Sharma created Bhutanese Refugees Aiding Victims of Violence (BRAVVE), which now provides counseling and training in income-producing skills in all eight Bhutanes erefugee camps in Nepal. In 2001 Ms Sharma was granted political asylum in the USA and now works for Refugee Women's Network in Decatur, GA.