By: Sorie Sudan Sesay –
Having being honoured with renowned global recognitions in recent times including a Doctorate degree at Oxford University and several international organisations, Zainab Hawa Bangura has taken a step forward – boosting not only her reputation but also making her country and countrymen proud – and this time it is one of the most acclaimed women awards in the world.
The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflicts was on Monday February 22nd awarded the Hillary Rodham Clinton Award for Advancing Women in Peace and Security by Georgetown University through the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, the Georgetown Global Futures Initiative and the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs.
Hillary Clinton was not present at the awards having being engaged in her campaign for the United States of America Presidency, but in her video message, which was broadcast during the ceremony, the former US Secretary of State expressed her regret for not being present at the all-important programme.
Clinton described Zainab Bangura as a trailblazer who continues to work tirelessly and effectively to advance the role of women in ending global conflicts.
The message reads:
“Women are often the primary victims of war and they are often agents of peace from Ireland to Liberia and beyond we’ve seen that with women participated in peace processes, they make sure critical issues that are often overlooked like human rights, justice and economic renewal are addressed. “Yet in hundreds of treaties that have been signed over the past twenty years, fewer than ten percent had women negotiators. That is why women need a voice; we need to recognize that when women participate in making peace and keeping peace. Communities and countries are actually more secured.
Sexual violence in war doesn’t just harm a single victims, it treads the fabric that brings us together as a society. It erodes social and political stability; it undermines economic progress; it cuts to the core of who we are as human beings and what kind of world we want to live our children in.
The two women we honour today are on the frontline seeking solutions.
Zainab, your brave efforts to rule out sexual violence as a weapon of war has shed light on the plight of women and girls who suffered unimaginable brutality. From Syria to South Sudan you stood as an advocate demanding accountability from community elders and world leaders alike.
As Secretary of State, I was proud to help you create the position you now hold Special Representative of the Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflicts and I can think of no better person to serve in that essential role. Your confidence and commitment are an inspiration and the lesser your fearless reporting draws attention to the disenfranchised, dispossessed and dismissed in conflict zones around the world, you have risked your life many times to tell their stories. Your talents and passion for celebrating the remarkable capacity and courage of women is evidenced in all of your journalistic endeavours. And your work has helped to cheer something so important that women and girls are no longer invincible in war. When we think about the violence and humanitarian crisis confronting us, we can learn a great deal from the examples set by this trailblazer. Congratulations to you and best wishes as you continue your absolutely critical service.”
Zainab dedicated her award to those she described as the ‘brave women across the world’.
“I would like to dedicate this award to all the brave women across the world that have been victims of the heinous crime of sexual violence and who have been courageous enough to share their stories with me as I strive to make their voices heard on the world stage.”