By Catherine Ageno
Ugandan climate justice activist Vanessa Nakate is among the four people honoured this year by the Gates Foundation. These have been honoured with the 2022 Goalkeepers Global Goals Awards for their inspiring efforts to drive progress for all.
Nakatte, Radhika Batra of India, Zahra Joya of Afghanistan and Ursula von der Leyen of Germany have been recognized for their extraordinary work towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
As part of its annual Goalkeepers campaign, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recognizes the work of remarkable changemakers to advance progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in their communities and around the world
Nakate, founder of the Africa-based Rise Up Movement and the Green Schools Project received the 2022 Campaign Award which celebrates an individual who has inspired change using personal experience. She was recognised 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.
The Rise Up Climate Movement, 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 is thus progressing SDG 4: Education, SDG 5: Gender Equality, SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities, and SDG 13: Climate Action.
The award was presented to her on Tuesday by Malala Yousafzai at the Lincoln Center in New York at a ceremony, which was attended by global leaders, influencers, and changemakers, and hosted by Tumelo Mothotoane, senior anchor at South African news broadcaster eNCA. Other award presenters included Malala Fund co-founder and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Malala Yousafzai; and entertainer and founder of Unicorn Island, Lilly Singh. The ceremony featured special performances by George the Poet and Grammy-nominated singer and performer, Somi.
“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,” said Blessing Omakwu, head of Goalkeepers. “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.”
Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, received the 2022 Global Goalkeeper Award, which was presented by Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates. It recognizes a leader who has driven progress on a global scale toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
She was recognised for showing 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, including a commitment of €1 billion from the EU to boost manufacturing capacity in Africa in order to increase access to vaccines, medicines, and health technologies. In June 2020, at the Global Vaccine Summit, von der Leyen also announced a new European Commission’s contribution of €300 million to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. This is more than the sum of all previous EU contributions to Gavi”, reads a statement from the Foundation.
Afghanistan’s Zahra Joya received the 2022 Changemaker Award, which was 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 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.
While, the 2022 Progress Award, which was presented by Lilly Singh, to India’s Dr. Radhika Batra in celebration of efforts for supporting progress via a science, technology, digital, or business initiative. Her work tackles 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.
The announcement of the Goalkeepers Global Goals Award winners follows last week’s release of the Gates Foundation’s sixth annual Goalkeepers Report, “The Future of Progress,” co-authored by foundation co-chairs Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates.
Goalkeepers is the foundation’s campaign to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (Global Goals). By sharing stories and data behind the Global Goals through an annual report, we hope to inspire a new generation of leaders—Goalkeepers who raise awareness of progress, hold their leaders accountable and drive action to achieve the Global Goals.