New York, N.Y., May 10, 2006—The Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children is honoring education advocates from Sierra Leone and Afghanistan at its 2006 Voices of Courage Awards luncheon on May 11 in New York City. Other awardees include an international network that promotes education in emergencies and Microsoft for its work providing technology to women in developing countries. Caroline Kennedy
will be presenting the awards; Leslie Stahl
is the luncheon’s host.
WHAT: Voices of Courage Awards; Caroline Kennedy, Awards Presenter
WHO: Christiana Thorpe, founding chairperson, Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) Sierra Leone; Aziza Ishaqzai, Afghan refugee education advocate; Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE); Microsoft
WHEN/WHERE: May 11, 2006, noon-2pm, Mandarin Oriental, 80 Columbus Circle, 60th Street, NYC
Christiana Thorpe has worked for decades to improve access to education for children and youth, including refugees and the displaced. She has done so as a teacher in her native Sierra Leone, a refugee, Sierra Leone’s first female Minister of Education, founder of the Forum for African Women Educationalists-Sierra Leone and a leader who has inspired local women to establish education for displaced and war-affected children. She was also recently appointed by Sierra Leone’s President to serve as the National Electoral Commissioner for the 2007 presidential elections—a first for a woman. Under Thorpe’s leadership, FAWE-SL has become the largest and most active Sierra Leonean non-governmental organization in emergency and basic education.
Aziza Ishaqzai, an Afghan refugee who runs a school in a refugee camp in Pakistan, has advocated for girls’ education for years, first as a teacher at home-based schools, later at non-formal education centers and finally as head teacher of a refugee girls’ school. When Ishaqzai took over management of her school, it provided education through grade 6; girls are now enrolled through grade 10. The school has gained the trust of the local population, and today it enrolls nearly 300 girls. Numerous graduates teach in other refugee schools. Many challenges persist, however: a lack of qualified female teachers, particularly for the higher grades, and poor salaries.
Microsoft Corporation’s Unlimited Potential and Partners in Learning programs play a significant role in empowering millions of people around the world and advancing social and economic opportunities, particularly for the 70 percent of the world’s poor who are women. These programs are part of Microsoft’s long-term effort to provide the Information and Technology access, education and skills training that enable people to grow and thrive. In communities around the world, ICT offers women great potential to reduce poverty, improve governance, overcome isolation and make their voices heard.
The Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) promotes access to and completion of high-quality education for all persons affected by emergencies, crises or chronic instability. The network includes nongovernmental organizations, UN agencies, donors, practitioners, researchers and individuals from affected populations working to ensure the right to education in emergencies and post-crisis reconstruction. INEE developed minimum standards in 2004 to ensure educational quality, access and accountability in emergencies; these standards are now used in more than 60 countries.
To learn more about the Women's Commission's work on education in emergencies, please click here.
For Immediate Release
Contact: Megan McKenna 212-551-0959