Winners of the WEE Leadership Awards 2017 Announced!

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Today, Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam International Executive Director, has announced the five winners of the WEE Leadership Awards 2017 organised by Oxfam’s Knowledge Hub on Women’s Economic Empowerment in Agriculture!

We received nominations for 43 inspiring individuals from across 32 countries (see all nominations). The following five women, from both Oxfam and partner organisations, are being recognised for their exceptional championship of women’s economic empowerment:

  • Aida Zubčević, President of the Association of Business Women in Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Laureen Karayi Nabimanya, Programme Coordinator, Women’s Rights and Access to Justice, Uganda Women’s Network (UWONET)
  • M.B. Akhter, Programme Director, Oxfam in Bangladesh
  • Madeleine Kulab, Gaza fisherfolk and committee member of the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC)
  • Eaetemad Rafallah Abdallah, Manager of the wool spinning and manufacturing unit at the Center of Sustainable Development

Award winners have impressed the selection committee by their engagement to tackle discriminatory practice and to challenge negative social norms, their determination to create spaces for women in sectors dominated by men and their capacity to lead and give visibility to the initiatives they lead.

In her message to the winners and nominees, Winnie Byanyiama, Oxfam International’s Executive Director, underlines the importance of their contributions to Oxfam’s work and beyond.

Winnie Byanyima is part of the UN High Level Panel on WEE, a unique forum to influence global policies and practices. Through her participation, Oxfam has been instrumental in echoing the voice of women’s rights organisations, and propelling issues such as unpaid care work, social norms, informal work and women working in agriculture to the fore. Evidence collected from programmes and input from regional consultations with civil society organisations have enabled to ground those issues firmly into the reality of women across the globe.

Laureen Karayi Nabimanya, Programme Coordinator, Women’s Rights and Access to Justice, Uganda Women’s Network (UWONET)

Laureen has lead ground-breaking advocacy with the Government of Uganda on unpaid care as part of Women's Economic Empowerment with UWONET, Laureen has been ambitious and creative in supporting innovative strategies to expand the movements of women in Uganda to recognize all of women's work, and increase public investment to support unpaid care work. Women parliamentarians, and women’s rights organizations  have also participated in capacity building focused on evidence on unpaid care work. More recently, she worked in a team which organized a water walk (300 Ugandans) to present a petition to the Ministry of Water, Sanitation and Environment in Uganda expressing concerns over the challenges women and girls face in accessing clean, safe, available and affordable water, a key gender and problematic care role for women and girls.

Aida Zubčević, President of the Association of Business Women in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Aida Zubčević is the president of the Association of Business Women in Bosnia and Herzegovina that counts 300 women. Her work is geared towards building a strong and united civil society, which brings together businesswomen with rural women to tackle discriminatory practices, and empower and educate women to claim their economic rights. By challenging traditional norms, creating strong partnerships with women parliamentarians and developing a strategy for the development of women entrepreneurship, Aida dedicates her work to enhancing the social status of rural women for the economic benefit of the entire community. Aida has been awarded with the regional award "Flower of success” for her championship of women's rights.

Through different activities and promotion of women’s entrepreneurship, women entrepreneurs from the Association of Business Women in Bosnia and Herzegovina, are creating not only a better position for the women in the society but they are also recognizing an opportunity to embed their own identity into this idea.   Aida has created an Association that is not only an organization but the platform, place and address, where visionary women, can find encouragement, instruction and training, and finally full support for the launch and development of their enterprise, regardless the sector they are representing or the urban or rural area they are coming from.

Badi Akhter, Programme Director, Oxfam in Bangladesh

Akhter has been instrumental in putting WEE at the heart of Oxfam in Bangladesh's resilience and economic justice programming. On his various roles as Programme Manager and now Programme Director, Akhter is a staunch and relentless champion for a holistic women's rights and empowerment approach. A strong WEE programming is demonstrated in all of the Economic Justice programmes - in the chili enterprise development project, in the gendered enterprise and market project on the dairy value chain, in a new youth urban programme and in other resilient livelihoods projects. Thanks to Akhter's work, Bangladesh has been pioneering an integrated approach to market based livelihoods programming, with resilience-building and women's economic leadership at the heart of programme design, and takes on innovative approaches such as using tablets in MEL or climate insurance.

Madeleine Kulab, Gaza fisherfolk and committee member of the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC)

Madeleine is the only fisherwomen in Gaza strip. Her courage, working in a sector dominated by men have brought a great attention notably in international media to a sector that is suffering from the blockade and the general situation in Gaza Strip. Her life is a wonderful example of learning to make the most of the current situation, pushing the limits of the society and of the economy.

Eaetemad Rafallah Abdallah, Manager of the wool spinning and manufacturing unit at the Center of Sustainable Development

Eaetemad Rafallah Abdallah is a Bedouin woman, living in the Egyptian desert with a passion for the preservation of Bedouin heritage. In 2004, she had the opportunity to attend to a training aimed at enhancing women's income via handicraft, through which she realised the importance of improving production techniques within the wool value chain while valorizing local culture, traditions and natural resources such as natural dyes like curcuma. Operating in a challenging context characterised by patriarchal traditions, Eaetemad is supporting women empowerment in her community, through the quality improvement of wool handicraft. Thanks to her motivation and courage, Eaetemad successfully convinced men within her community of the importance of allowing women to lead economic activities, and enjoy more freedom over their time and their income.


Selection committee

  • Monique van Zijl, Specialist Policy Lead/Behind the Brand Grow - Oxfam International
  • Sophie Romana, Director, Community Finance - Oxfam America
  • Jon Horsley, Head of Program Development - Oxfam International
  • Francesco Torrigiani, Head of the Policy Unit - Oxfam Italy
  • Claudia Canepa, Coordinator of the Knowledge Hub on Women's Economic Empowerment, Oxfam

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