Ginetta Sagan Award Reception

Ginetta Sagan Award Reception

Thursday, December 4th, 2014
6:30pm - Cocktail Reception
8:00pm - Dinner & Program
Attire: Business Cocktail

635 West 42nd Street
Between 11th & 12th Ave
New York, NY (map)

Planning Committee

Executive Chair
Lauren Embrey

Event Co-chairs
Ana Sagan & Alisa Roadcup

Planning Committee
Radhika Balakrishnan, Ingrid X. Galvez, Nancy & Neil Humphreys,
Dorothy Thomas

JUST RELEASED: Amnesty International USA will honor Sudanese journalist Amal Khalifa Habani at this year's Ginetta Sagan Award Reception and Dinner this Thursday, December 4. The award is given annually to honor courageous women around the world who put their lives at risk to stand up for the rights of women and children who face grave human rights violations.

Habani's columns have led to her being unlawfully prosecuted and censured for her criticism of Sudanese laws and policies that unfairly curtail the rights of women and undermine freedom of speech and other human rights.


Stage Participants

Ann Burroughs
Chair, AIUSA Board
Ann Burroughs is the Chair of the Board of Directors at Amnesty International USA. She was on the staff of AIUSA from 1991-1999, first as the Western Regional Deputy Director, and then as a Media Director for the organization. She has been a member of the IAR Member Strategy Planning Group since June 2011. Burroughs was imprisoned for her work against apartheid in her native South Africa in the 1980s and was the subject of a successful AI Special Action.

David Stamps
Member, AIUSA Board of Directors
David Stamps has been an Amnesty member since 1981, acting as a Local Group Coordinator, State Death Penalty Abolition Coordinator, and Area Coordinator in that time. He has also served in other capacities as International Board Member and Treasurer, Amnesty USA Board Vice-Chair and Treasurer and Chair of AI's International Financial Control Committee. He also serves on the boards of The Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural rights and the Illusion Theater, Minneapolis. Stamps works in the fields of nonprofit consulting and industrial sales and nonprofit consulting, specifically in fundraising and board development. He is a graduate of Lawrence University.

Ana Sagan
Member, Ginetta Sagan Committee Fund
Ana Sagan is the granddaughter of Ginetta Sagan, and has been a member of the Ginetta Sagan Fund since 2004. A graduate of Occidental College, she spent two years teaching English in elementary and junior high schools in Nagasaki, Japan. While studying Medical Anthropology at the School of Oriental and African Studies, she wrote her master's thesis on individual and social responses to torture and the medicalization of trauma. Greatly inspired by the work of Ginetta and other human rights activists, Ms. Sagan has volunteered and traveled throughout Asia.

Steven Hawkins
Executive Director, AIUSA
Steven Hawkins is the Executive Director of Amnesty International USA. He has led a powerful partnership of organizations as Executive Director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death penalty in Washington, D.C., and successfully campaigned to abolish the death penalty for juvenile crimes. He has also spearheaded philanthropic efforts to advocate for human rights and social justice causes at the JEHT Foundation and Atlantic Philanthropies. As Executive Vice President and Chief Program Officer at the NAACP, Hawkins continued to be at the forefront of social justice, often collaborating with AIUSA on death penalty and national security issues. His deep and personal experience in grassroots advocacy, fundraising, youth engagement, and membership mobilization has encouraged more people to join Amnesty's fight for human rights on a global scale.

Lauren Embrey
President/CEO, Embrey Family Foundation
Lauren Embrey is the President and CEO of the Embrey Family Foundation and CEO of Embrey Interests, Ltd. In addition to the family foundation, she collaborates with The Ms. Foundation for Women, the Women's Media Center, Women Moving Millions, The Culture Project, The Women Donor's Network, the Dallas Film Society, The Dallas Theater Center, and others. Ms. Embrey also channels her passion for human rights work, women's issues, and the performing arts in strategic and impactful ways through the Foundation's focus areas, which include racial and gender equity, women in the media, and women and girls' leadership initiatives. She loves animals, especially dogs, nature, travel, spirituality, and her hometown of Dallas, Texas.

Dorothy Q. Thomas
Dorothy Q. Thomas is an independent consultant on human rights, and serves on the advisory boards of the Ms. Foundation for Women, the ACLU human rights project, Breakthrough Communications, the Four Freedoms Fund, the British Institute for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch's US program, and the US Human Rights Fund. She was the founding director of Human Rights Watch's Women's Rights Division, and a co-founder of the U.S. Human Rights Fund, a collaborative grant-making initiative supporting domestic human rights work. Most recently, she has held academic posts at the London School of Economics and the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, and served as the Ms. Foundation's Interim President and CEO. Ms. Thomas holds an MA and an honorary doctorate from Georgetown University, and was a 1998 MacArthur Fellow and recipient of the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award.

Radhika Balakrishnan
Executive Director, Center for Women's Global Leadership at Rutgers University
As a professor of Women's Studies and the Executive Director of the Center for Women's Global Leadership at Rutgers University, Professor Balakrishnan focuses on issues of economics and social justice from a feminist perspective as they relate to macroeconomic policy, especially education. She has served on Board of the Center for Constitutional Rights, the International Association for Feminist Economics, and the US Human Rights Network. Her primary research interests include gender and development, human rights and the global economy, and human rights and economic social rights. She is the author of several books and articles on the above subjects, and holds a Ph.D in Economics from Rutgers University.

Birtukan Midekssa
A former judge and the leader of Ethiopia's Unity and Democracy for Justice Party, Ms. Midekssa was among opposition activists who were jailed for life after the disputed 2005 election. They were pardoned after 18 months, but she was imprisoned for a second time after being accused of violating the terms of the pardon. She was featured in Amnesty's 2009 Write for Rights campaign as a prisoner of conscience, and released in October 2010. Midekssa was awarded the Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellowship by the US National Endowment for Democracy in 2011, and was a 2013 Eleanor Roosevelt Fellow at Harvard University's W.E.B. Du Bois Institute, focusing on the independence of the judiciary in closed societies. She recently received her MA in Public Administration from Harvard University's Kennedy School.

Roxana Saberi
Correspondent, Senior Producer | Al Jazeera America
Roxana Saberi is an author, speaker, and journalist, currently with Al Jazeera America. As a reporter based in Iran, she was arrested and imprisoned for 100 days in 2009 on charges of espionage, and the subject of several Amnesty International urgent actions. Her work has been featured in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, CNN.com, The Daily Beast, The Chicago Tribune, NPR, and the BBC. She has also written an account of her experience in Iran, Between Two Worlds: My Life and Captivity in Iran, and traveled extensively to speak with the public, media, and government officials about Iran, human rights, and overcoming adversity. Saberi has received the Medill Medal of Courage, the Ilaria Alpi Freedom of the Press Award, the NCAA Award of Valor, a Project for Middle East Democracy Award, and the World Women Global Council's Champion of Change Award. She holds master's degrees in journalism from Northwestern University and in international relations from the University of Cambridge.

Lili Haydn
Rock violinist, vocalist, recording artist, composer | lilihaydn.com
As a child actress, Ms. Haydn appeared in memorable roles in Easy Money, Not Quite Human, and the New Gidget, but quickly started working towards her dream of playing the violin. After obtaining her Political Science degree from Brown University, she collaborated with artists such as Sting, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Herbie Hancock, and George Clinton, described by NPR as "Heifetz meets Hendrix". In addition to her recording and touring career, Haydn's music has been licensed for television, film, and commercials, including the scores of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, She's the One, and others. She is also a film composer in her own right, with ten feature films, a Film Composing Fellowship at the Sundance Film Institute, and a nomination for Best Music at the 2014 Milan International Film Festival to her credit. A humanitarian and activist, Haydn also collaborates regularly with human rights and social justice organizations, including Amnesty International.

Liza Jessie Peterson
Playwright, poet, actress, and educator
Ms. Peterson began her poetry career at the famed Nuyorican Poets Café and was a vital member of the "underground slam poetry/spoken word" movement. She has written eight plays including her most recent one woman play The Peculiar Patriot, which embarked on a national prison tour. Her plays have been featured in notable theater festivals and performed in various theaters, nationally and internationally. Peterson has performed her poetry on HBO's "Def Poetry" and PBS's "Between the Lions," and has appeared in several feature films including Love the Hard Way, Bamboozled, A Drop of Life, and One Giant Leap/ What About Me. She has taught creative writing, poetry and theater to urban and incarcerated youth for more than 15 years. She created and developed The Urban Folktale Project, where her students created original plays based on their most pressing issues and performed it at several theaters around New York City. Peterson continues to be inspired by these youth, both at Rikers Island and at programs for those returning home from jail.

Yadira De La Riva
Artist, Educator | yadiradelariva.com, onejourneychronicles.com
Ms. De La Riva recently obtained her Master's Degree in Artivism: Performance as Cultural Resistance at New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Study as a Newington-Cropsey Fellow. As part of her Master's thesis she wrote, performed and produced "One Journey: Stitching Stories Across the Mexican 'American' Border". One Journey was performed as part of Emerging Identities Solo Performance Collaborative, the Emerging Artist Theater: One Woman Standing Theater Festival, Project Reach, and the Repertorio Español. De La Riva is a multi-faceted performer whose passion is to write, perform and produce performances that represent and empower marginalized voices nationally and internationally.

Amal Habbani
2014 Ginetta Sagan Award Recipient
The Ginetta Sagan Fund is pleased to announce that Amal Habbani of Sudan is the 2015 Ginetta Sagan Award winner.

Amal, whose name means ‘hope,' is a journalist and an activist dedicated to promoting equality and justice for all women in Sudan as well as advocating and working on behalf of all Sudanese society. In 2005, Amal created a small school for refugee children as part of the "Popular Peace Initiative." She also led campaigns to free political prisoners and created a column in a Sudanese newspaper to address various social and political issues.

In 2008, one of Amal's colleagues was detained by Sudan's infamous "Public Order Police" on the grounds that she was dressed inappropriately under the Public Order Laws. In response, Amal and her colleagues created the "No to Women's Oppression Initiative," which opposes such laws and argues that they are imposed to subjugate and assault women. Amal estimates that 40,000 to 50,000 women in Khartoum are detained, tried and punished under the Public Order Laws each year.

Amal's activism and work as a journalist has led to harsh and unjust punishments by the authorities: she has been fined, arrested, and detained multiple times. Amal was also fired from her previous job. Despite this she continues to fight for equality and justice and the improvement of women's conditions in Sudan. Because of her efforts, a study was conducted on Public Order Laws that brought about an increased awareness within the government and the general public about the biased impact of the laws and Khartoum's governor has acknowledged the need to revise these laws. Women continue to suffer under the current regime of Sudan, but Amal and her colleagues are determined to see these laws repealed and replaced by laws that are more sensitive towards women's issues.

Named in honor of human rights activist Ginetta Sagan, the Ginetta Sagan Fund of Amnesty International USA was created to recognize and assist women who are working to protect the liberty and lives of women and children in areas where human rights violations are widespread. The Ginetta Sagan Award recognizes individual accomplishment, but also serves as a beacon of hope to women everywhere who are fighting for human rights.

The Award recognizes outstanding achievement, often at great personal risk, enhances the recipient's ability to live and work freely, and protects the recipient's capacity to continue her work, by bringing a new level of international attention to her accomplishments and the obstacles she faces, and brings increased international scrutiny to the crisis, region or issue for which the recipient works.

The Ginetta Sagan Fund emphasizes that more human rights work must be done by and for women and is accompanied by a $10,000 award.


Write for Rights

Every year around Human Rights Day on December 10, hundreds of thousands of people around the world send a message to someone they've never met. Letter writing has always been at the heart of Amnesty International's work and 53 years of human rights activism shows us that words really do have the power to change lives.

Last year, hundreds of thousands of people in 143 countries around the world took a record-breaking 2,373,422 actions. Three of the Prisoners of Conscience featured in Write for Rights 2013 - Yorm Bopha, Vladimir Akimenkov, and Mikhail Kosenko - were released, and nearly all of the Individuals whose cases were featured told us that the burst of activism generated by the campaign helped to inspire and encourage them as they continue to struggle for justice.

Here's how it works

  • Amnesty looks at our global portfolio of cases, including Prisoners of Conscience, human rights defenders, torture survivors and communities at risk to decide who will be featured in each year's campaign.
  • We identify 10 cases where global activism can have a huge impact, right now, and share them with Amnesty activists.
  • Amnesty grassroots leaders sign up to organize events and actions - or write on their own - on behalf of the 10 cases from December 1-17.
  • Letters, tweets, emails, faxes, text messages and petitions start arriving at government offices, in prison cells and to families all over the world.
  • Change happens. Hope Grows. As messages flood mailboxes, prisoners get better conditions or are released. Human rights defenders are better protected. Torture survivors finally get the reparations that they need to heal. People know that others, worldwide, are taking their injustice personally.
  • Amnesty receives updates about the kinds of actions people are taking and the ways in which it is making a difference. Every year, we better understand how Write for Rights changes lives

Write for Rights - also known as the Writeathon - is the world's largest human rights event, but it has humble origins. Twelve years ago, a young man named Witek met a young woman named Joanna at a festival in Warsaw, Poland. Joanna had just returned from traveling through Africa, where she'd seen activists organizing 24-hour events to write protest letters to governments.

Witek invited Joanna to join a meeting of his local Amnesty group. Together, they decided to write Urgent Action appeals for 24 hours, beginning at noon on Saturday. When they emailed their idea to all the other Polish groups, it turned into something much bigger, bringing together activists across the country. Then, their idea went viral.

They emailed their idea to all the other Polish groups, and it turned into something much bigger, bringing together activists across the country," explains Grzegorz Zukowski, from Amnesty Poland. Then, their idea went viral.

Witek and Joanna emailed Amnesty offices across the world, and people started sending back pictures of themselves writing letters - by Niagara Falls, in Japan, in Mongolia. It was a spontaneous, grassroots initiative that grew and grew.

Every December since, Write for Rights has inspired thousands of people to write letters to distant governments. Some still do it Polish-style, over a hectic, sleepless 24 hours. No matter where Write for Rights is taking place, it is driven and sustained by Amnesty's grassroots human rights activists.

And it still has real grassroots appeal: "The main power behind the marathon are the local communities and groups," says Grzegorz Zukowski from Amnesty Poland, "The school groups write more letters than anyone else. Our record is held by Bircza, a small town with only 1,000 inhabitants. In 2011, they wrote 13,000 letters." Over 50 years after the first call to action that inspired our movement, a hand-written letter is still one of the most powerful tools we have as activists. When thousands of people write the same letter, our voices united cannot be ignored. So don't stop here, or with your 10 letters. During Write for Rights 2014, recruit others to join or host an event or plan a creative action to engage your community. Whatever you do, let us know how you're taking action for human rights. Use our online Impact Form at amnestyusa.org/w4rImpact, or print, fill out, and mail the form at the end of this Toolkit to us. Each letter you write is a part of the cacophony that will change the world.


Women's Rights Program

Amnesty International's women's rights work encompasses a range of human rights as they relate to the equity needs of women, working to advance rights and opportunities for all women and to combat the abuses of specific groups of women and girls. We work to combat the global epidemic of gender-based violence, specifically by calling for the enactment of the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA). From working to improve maternal health and sexual and reproductive rights, to advocating for girls' opportunities to access a safe, high-quality education, to highlighting the vulnerabilities women face in war and the value they add to sustainable peace, Amnesty International addresses the rights of all women and girls, in the USA and around the world.

2014 Program Successes and Highlights

This year, the Women's Human Rights Program has successfully advanced AIUSA's work to end violence against women through our work on the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA), the 2015 National Defense Authorization bill, the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, the Write for Rights (W4Rights) campaign, and the My Body, My Rights campaign.

Notably, AIUSA has successfully increased Congressional support for I-VAWA in 2014 through advocacy and member organizing efforts. I-VAWA has secured a record number of Republican cosponsors this year, ensuring that there is a bipartisan bill in both the House and the Senate. AIUSA members were critical in securing this bipartisan support through advocacy with their elected representatives. AIUSA and our allies were also able to successfully insert language in this year's National Defense Authorization bill to protect Afghan women's human rights as well as additional language to end gender-based violence in the country. These victories were supported by the sustained commitment of Amnesty activists to educate their members of Congress and urge their support.

On April 14, 234 school girls between the ages of 16 and 18 were abducted from their school in Chibok, Nigeria, by the Islamist armed group, Boko Haram. Boko Haram, which is opposed to any form of western education, has waged a brutal insurgency destabilizing different states in the northern part of the country since 2009 with bombs, attacks on schools, and the killing of thousands of individuals. The Women's Human Rights Program helped to successfully lead a campaign to show support for the families of the girls and to demand action by the Nigerian government. Promoting the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, AIUSA appeared in international news outlets such as Al Jazeera, MSNBC, and the New York Times, helping to highlight the issue and to urge public support for ending discrimination and violence against women and girls.

In 2014, Amnesty International launched the My Body, My Rights campaign which includes a particular focus on El Salvador's absolute ban on abortion. The law sentences women and girls who are believed to have had an abortion to a prison sentence of up to 50 years for "aggravated homicide." AIUSA supports the global campaign to promote sexual and reproductive health rights and has worked with other Amnesty sections to demand reforms in El Salvador. In addition, AIUSA has chosen to feature the women and girls of El Salvador in the 2014 Write for Rights campaign, and members and allies are encouraged to send a letter in support of women human rights defenders in that country. Other women's rights advocates featured in Write for Rights include Chinese Prisoner of Conscience, Liu Ping, and Ampyari Bai and Safreen Khan, environmental rights activists in Bhopal, India.

Throughout the year, the Women's Human Rights Program has advocated on behalf of other women and girls at risk, including a 10-year old rape survivor in Afghanistan whose family members threatened to give her an "honor killing," and a young woman in Iran who was sentenced to a year in prison for protesting the ban on women's participation in sporting events. This work to recognize and promote women's human rights defenders who are at risk is amplified through the Ginetta Sagan award and annual celebration dinner each year.


The Ginetta Sagan Award Reception and Dinner is our yearly signature event, which recognizes the Ginetta Sagan Award Recipient, highlights the Ginetta Sagan Fund, and showcases Amnesty International's work to advance women's human rights for an audience composed of internationally-recognized women's human rights defenders, our top-tier donors, community leaders, artists, and entertainment and media personalities. Our event blends human rights issues with the arts, while fostering connections among allies within the global movement for women's human rights.

Join us for an evening of inspiring speakers and learn about Amnesty International's efforts to advance the human rights of women and girls. The highlight of the evening will be a special presentation of Amnesty International's annual Ginetta Sagan Award for women's and children's rights. Guests will be presented with an opportunity to make a gift to Amnesty International that evening to help us continue this vital work.

The Ginetta Sagan Award was created to honor courageous women around the world who put their lives at risk to stand up for the rights of women and children who face grave human rights violations.

Ginetta Sagan (1925–2000) was an Italian-born American human rights activist best known for her work with Amnesty International on behalf of prisoners of conscience. President Bill Clinton awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1996, and Italy later awarded her the rank of Grand Official Order of Merit of the Italian Republic.


Special Thanks