Urmila Chanam is a courageous and visionary health and human rights advocate from India who is implementing a comprehensive effort to change societal norms and to provide factual information around menstruation in order to build a society that makes menstrual hygiene a possibility for millions of women and girls. The challenge before her is immense and pervasive as she is working within deeply ingrained cultural norms and beliefs that menstruating women are untouchable.
Twenty seven years ago, Martha Ilano recognized that trees serve as our life force by keeping our air clean and creating a habitable place for all species. This moment inspired her and evolved into her life’s work. Today, she is dedicated to preserving the forests in Colombia and beyond.
Through an innovative approach, often working against the backdrop of a country plagued with conflict, Martha has launched an environmental movement led by women. Her work aims to create a global network of women conservation activists who will join together to proactively preserve our shared natural environment.
Salama Sacerdoce Jocelyne
Nowhere is more dangerous for women than the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where women and girls suffer excessively from high rates of violence and extreme poverty during times of conflict since 1996. Even though peace has been established in most regions of the country, but the eastern provinces, still suffer from gender-based violence.The Democratic Republic of the Congo, in particular the east of the country, has a long history of rape and violence, it was named the “Rape Capital of the World”. Although sexual violence has always occurred in the country, but the region has faced increased rates of sexual violence at the time of the armed conflicts.
Bantar Gebang landfill in Bekasi is not only a home for Jakarta’s tonnes of waste, but is also a home for thousands of young children whose families make their livings picking through the waste hills. Most children end up being scavengers when they grow up and getting married at a very young age.
Resa’s family moved from Padang in West Sumatera when she was eight to Bantar Gebang. At that time, Bantar Gebang was green with rice fields. Seeing these fields slowly turn into mountains of garbage motivated Resa to become the environmental activist that she is today.
Khun Nom grew up in a tribal village in rural Thailand. These villages have their own rules and norms, separate from those of the nation. She studied sewing and started her own small business. Her husband was kind to her in the beginning, a common theme for abused women, and they had four children together. Then her husband started drinking, and he no longer allowed her to pursue her sewing business.
Emem Okon is a community organizer/mobilizer and women’s rights activist from the Niger Delta, a hot spot in Nigeria. She has a passion for mobilizing women for action, for peace, and for their rights. She works in oil-impacted towns and villages, i.e. areas where oil companies are drilling in the Niger Delta. Two problems she and others are addressing are neglect of the region in terms of development and also the degradation of the environment by the oil companies.
Mary is a vocal advocate for women’s rights in Afghanistan, Executive Director of AWSDC and the Chair of the Board for the Afghan Wmen’s Network (AWN). In 2003, Mary opened the first Afghan shelter for survivors of violenceagains women in her country. Since then, she has worked with police forces and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs to ensure the governments’ recognition of safe houses, and to ensure strong referral systems for women survivors of domesticand sexual violence.
Mariama has been a movement leader since 1990, advocating tirelessly for agricultural and land ownership rights to empower local women and reclaim agricultural autonomy in West Africa. She has built a movement founded on organizing grassroots women building solutions to many challenges they face, integrating women’s leadership and participation in democracy, sexual and reproductive rights and ending female genital mutilation.
Born and raised in Haiti, Josette has worked tirelessly for the rights of Haitian people for many years. She is one of the few women to head a successful NGO in Haiti. She is fiercely committed to working for and with Haitian people and being directed by them to get their needs met as they see fit. She is a staunch supporter of Haitian grassroots peasant organizations and their self-determination.
Norma Bajan Balan
Norma is a fearless leader and change maker. An indigenous woman from a family of 8 children in the rural town of San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala, Norma overcame deeply ingrained obstacles of misogyny, racism, and poverty to secure her own higher education and realize her potential. She now works tirelessly to afford other young women who come from the same context even more opportunities than she herself had. In a culture where a woman’s value is currently much less than a man’s, Norma serves as proof to her community that women are brilliant, powerful and worthy members of society.