By Adeyemi Olusoga
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation ( BMGF) has announced four global leaders as winners of its 2022 Goalkeepers Global Goals Awards. The winners, described as “ four remarkable changemakers” towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in their communities and around the world, were announced in a ceremony in New York. The yearly awards are also part of BMGF’s annual Goalkeepers campaign.
The list of winners include: Radhika Batra, co-founder of the nonprofit organization Every Infant Matters, which provides last-mile health solutions to disadvantaged children in India and Zahra Joya, a journalist from Afghanistan who founded and self-funded Rukhshana Media, an online news agency focused exclusively on covering issues that affect the women of Afghanistan.
Others are: Vanessa Nakate, a climate justice activist from Uganda and founder of the Africa-based Rise Up Movement and the Green Schools Project and Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission .
Speaking on the awards, Blessing Omakwu, head of Goalkeepers noted that while the world may be far from being on track for the attainment of the SDG goals, there is cause for optimism judging from the selfless work of the winners.
Omakwu: “While the world is far from being on track to reach the Global Goals by 2030, there is still cause for optimism. We’ve seen how human ingenuity and innovation can lead to game-changing breakthroughs and progress toward our shared goals, and that’s exactly what we see in this year’s Goalkeepers Global Goals Award winners.
“Each show us how women are leading the way in coming up with the innovative solutions to move the numbers in the right direction, so that more people can lead healthy and productive lives,” she said.
The 2022 Global Goalkeeper Award, was presented by Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates and it recognises a leader who has driven progress on a global scale toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
The award was presented to Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission (EU), who has shown determination in leading both the EU and global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, from crisis management to long-term recovery efforts. A champion of global health and equitable access, von der Leyen was instrumental in the creation of ACT-A, a global collaboration to accelerate development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. She led the efforts of the European Union to support lower-income countries in responding to and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 2022 Campaign Award, presented by Malala Yousafzai, celebrates a campaign that has raised awareness or built a community by inspiring action and creating change. Presented to Vanessa Nakate of Uganda for her work to highlight the disproportionate impacts of climate change, bringing much-needed attention to the inequalities that it exacerbates, especially for women and girls in Africa.
Nakate is the founder of the Rise Up Climate Movement, which amplifies the voices of activists from Africa and across the world. She is also the founder of the Green Schools Project, which addresses energy poverty in rural schools in Uganda using economical and sustainable solutions to equip 24,000 schools with solar panels and eco stoves. Nakate, according to BMGF is progressing SDG 4: Education, SDG 5: Gender Equality, SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities, and SDG 13: Climate Action.
The 2022 Changemaker Award presented by Angelina Jolie, celebrates an individual who has inspired change using personal experience or from a position of leadership. This year’s award was presented to Zahra Joya of Afghanistan for her work to ensure women’s stories in her home country are reported on and reach the attention of the wider public. Joya is the founder of Rukhshana Media, an online news agency focused exclusively on covering issues that affect the women of Afghanistan—the first national news organization of its kind. Joya is progressing SDG 5: Gender Equality and SDG 16: Peace Justice and Strong Institutions.
The 2022 Progress Award celebrates an individual who supports progress via a science, technology, digital, or business initiative. It was presented to Dr. Radhika Batra of India for her work to tackle health inequalities by providing last-mile health solutions to disadvantaged children.
Batra founded Every Infant Matters when she was working as a resident doctor in a hospital in the slums of New Delhi. Since launching in 2017, the organization has saved 74,173 children from blindness; given prenatal vitamins to more than 40,000 disadvantaged women; and provided education to prevent gender inequality and the stigma of TB, HIV/AIDS, and blindness to more than 65,000 families. Batra is progressing SDG 3: Good Health & Well-Being and SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities.