photos by Jason Wen
The Forum is proud to have set up and organised, for a third year in a row, awards to celebrate the achievements of refugee and migrant women across the UK. This year, along with Migrants’ Rights Network we had as a new co-hosts the UNHCR and together we proudly organised a night to remember, celebrating migrant and refugee women at the Women of the World Festival and in the run up to International Women’s Day on 8th March.
The Women on the Move Awards were held to recognise the outstanding contributions that remarkable refugee and migrant women make to empower and integrate their communities. These women left their homes and loved ones, fleeing war and persecution, and managed not only to build a new life for themselves and their families, but also to support and inspire people and communities across the UK.
The Women on the Move Awards ceremony, that took place on the 6th March at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, was part of the WOW Festival and presented by Samira Ahmed, Livia Firth, Kirsteen Tait, John Owen, Nazek Ramadan, Cynthia Masiyiwa, Luljeta Nuzi, Fiona Dawe CBE, Roland Schilling and Zrinka Bralo.
Lilian Seenoi, a refugee from Kenya, was recognised as Woman of the Year for her work in Northern Ireland with the North West Migrant Forum (NWMF) that, with almost no means, brings together diverse migrant groups and local communities who have suffered years of tension. Lilian sought asylum in the UK after her work rescuing young girls from early marriage put her life in danger.
Accepting her award, Lillian said: ‘I have witnessed how fear creates boundaries, how boundaries create hate and how hate only serves the oppressors. I do understand that migrants and non-migrants are interconnected. When the rights of migrants are denied, the rights of citizens are at risk. Dignity has no nationality.’
Tatiana Garavito was recognised as Young Woman of the Year. Tatiana left Colombia at the age of 18, and since then she has been working for the benefit of her community by advocating exploited workers from the Latin American in London. At present she is Director of Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS) at the Awards Ceremony Tatiana said: ‘Migrant women are not usually recognised for our hard work but instead very much portrayed as second-class citizens and for taking advantage of the system. This is a great platform to expose who we really are and what we really do.’
A special jury award was awarded to Diana Nammi, Director of the Iranian Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO), for her courageous work to protect vulnerable women from so-called ‘honour’ killing. In her acceptance speech Diana said: ‘There has been some great progress recently with the move to criminalise forced marriage, expected to come into force in May this year. We have also seen an increase in organisations recognising and addressing ‘honour’ based violence. We must ensure that all front-line professionals, including all police officers, are fully trained on the issue. We must educate our children about ‘honour’ based violence by addressing the issue on the national curriculum.’
The Champion award was given to the AIRE Centre, which for twenty years has helped ensure that individuals and families benefit from the rights they are entitled to under European law.
The ceremony also celebrated outstanding media coverage of the protection needs of refugee and migrant women. This year the Media Award (Print) went to A.A. Gill for his series of articles on refugees in DRC, Jordan and Lampedusa published in The Sunday Times Magazine. Speaking at the ceremony, AA Gill said: ‘In Congo I realised a truth I’ve known all my life. Whilst women are often victims, they are also often the catalyst for making things better.’ The Media Award (Broadcast) recognised Sue Lloyd-Roberts for her BBC Newsnight film on women fleeing female genital mutilation. Special recognition was given to the Evening Standard, for its consistent reporting and campaigning work on female genital mutilation.
Zrinka Bralo, Executive Director of The Forum and the founder of the Awards at the end of the ceremony said: “If I had to use just one word to describe all our winners, that one word would have to be ‘courage’! I had the privilege to meet the late Anita Roddick who once said: ‘Be courageous. It’s one of the only places left uncrowded’. Well Dame Anita would stand correct tonight as we have crowded the place with so many courageous people”
*Watch the stories of our 2014 winners at Women on the Move Awards youtube channel
The Awards are funded by the Barrow Cadbury Trust and supported by South Bank Centre, ROSA, UK Fund for Women and Girls, and Women for Refugee Women