Women Deliver List Recognizes Top 100 Individuals Who Deliver Results for Girls and Women

First "Women Deliver 100" list marks 100th International Women's Day, featuring women and men who have fought to improve girls' and women's lives worldwide

Mar 02, 2011, 11:23 ET from Women Deliver

NEW YORK, March 2, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Women Deliver announced today the "Women Deliver 100," the global advocacy organization's list of the hundred most inspiring people who have delivered for girls and women. The list recognizes women and men, both prominent and lesser known, who have committed themselves to improving the lives of girls and women around the world. Honorees derive from the fields of health, human rights, politics, economics, education, journalism, and philanthropy, and represent a great diversity of geographic and cultural backgrounds.

"2010 was widely viewed as the year women's issues finally came to the fore in international development," said Women Deliver President Jill Sheffield. "This list recognizes those who successfully navigated the corridors of power, along with those on the front lines, who have worked to expand rights and choices for girls and women everywhere."

The 100 honorees were selected from among hundreds of potentials and feature some of the most intrepid, committed, and results-driven people in the world. In addition to Nobel laureates and heads of state, honorees are human rights activists, like Kasha Jacqueline, who have fought tirelessly against oppression; they are scientists, like Ian Frazer, who have developed life-changing technologies for women; and they are midwives, like Imtiaz Kamal, who save the lives of women and babies.

"Activists, doctors, journalists, teachers, business women, politicians: the women and men on this list do more than inspire. They change lives for the better, they create, they innovate and they fight for more fair, more inclusive, more fulfilled societies," said Graca Machel, an honoree and founding member of the Elders. "Their achievements reinforce my conviction that when women thrive, our world does too."

Many individuals on the list have seen little public attention, and are the unsung heroes of women everywhere. Many have moved mountains amidst civil strife and endemic poverty, some have risked their lives for their work, and others continue to face pressure and stigma for their efforts.

"The work of these heroes is informed not just by boundless vision, but also by pragmatism," said Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of UN Women and Chair of the Women Deliver 2010 conference. "They both understand and defy current power structures – and they will stop at nothing to make changes that improve the daily existence of women everywhere."  

The list is global in reach, signifying the breadth of work being done to improve girls' and women's lives. Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest representation, with 26 honorees. The Middle East and North Africa have 20 honorees, while 15 are from Asia, and 11 hail from Latin America and the Caribbean. Nineteen North Americans were also selected for the list.

The full list, with profiles of each honoree, will be unveiled on 2 March and can be found at www.womendeliver.org.  

Some of the inspirational individuals featured in the Women Deliver 100 include:

  • Somaly Mam, Cambodia: Orphaned during the Khmer Rouge, Mam survived forced prostitution as a child, later escaping to France. She then returned home to start a network of sanctuaries aiding thousands of other trafficking survivors across South East Asia.  

  • Kakenya Ntaiya, Kenya: As a Maasai villager, Ntaiya made two extraordinary deals with her father and her community elders: by agreeing to undergo female circumcision, she was allowed to delay marriage and attend high school. In exchange for a university education in the US, she has returned to Kenya to build a school for other Maasai girls, now in its third year.

  • Rebecca Gomperts, Netherlands: The intrepid Dutch doctor anchors her small ship off the coasts of countries where abortion access is restricted to provide safe medical abortions and medically-sound counseling in international waters. Her efforts are credited with helping to push Portugal to legalize first-trimester abortions.

  • Hawa Abdi, Somalia: Abdi and her daughters, all doctors, have stood their ground against Somalia's Islamist militias, guarding one of the country's only remaining safe havens: they run a complex with a hospital, farms, and a school, providing shelter to more than 90,000 women and children.

  • Casimira Rodriguez, Bolivia: Forced into domestic labor as a child, Rodriguez went on to become a firebrand labor organizer and most recently, Bolivia's Minister of Justice – the first indigenous woman to serve in that position.

  • Chief Kwataine, Malawi: Chief Kwataine learned of the high maternal death rate in the 89 Malawian villages under his traditional authority and launched a community-wide, grassroots initiative to educate women on maternal health and bring women to the hospital to give birth; in the last three years, not a single mother has died.

About Women Deliver: Women Deliver is a global advocacy organization that brings together voices from around the world to call for improved health and well being for girls and women. Launched in 2007, Women Deliver works globally to generate political commitment and financial investment for fulfilling Millennium Development Goal #5 — to reduce maternal mortality and achieve universal access to reproductive health. Building from the groundbreaking conferences Women Deliver convened in 2007 and 2010, the initiative harnesses commitments, partnerships, and networks to help prevent the approximately 350,000 deaths of girls and women from pregnancy- and childbirth-related causes that occur every year. Women Deliver's message is that maternal health is both a human right and a practical necessity for sustainable development.  Invest in women—it pays.

SOURCE Women Deliver