WAGGGS Chief Executive, Mary Mc Phail, presented the award to Stephen Lewis
on 7 July, during the Western Hemisphere Regional Conference in Toronto, Canada.
In his thank you address, Stephen Lewis stressed the importance of WAGGGS’ capacity to reach girls and young women across the globe and its impact and influence within civil society. He said that WAGGGS presence should be made at the upcoming 2008 International AIDS Conference in Mexico City because of the work the Association does on HIV/AIDS.
World Board Deputy Chairman, Mary Lynn Myers, presented the award to Vertistine Beaman Mbaya, who received it on behalf of Professor Wangari Maathai on 13 June, during the Africa Regional Conference in Lusaka, Zambia.
The World Citizenship Award is WAGGGS’ highest award. It is given to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to building a better world in one of six areas: Peace, Environment, Education, Food and Nutrition, Environment, Health, and Culture and Heritage.
Stephen Lewis: fighting HIV/AIDS
From 1984 to 1988, Stephen Lewis was Canadian Ambassador to the UN. From 1995 to 1999, he was Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF. This was followed in 2001 with his appointment as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa until 2006.
As Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF as well as in his most recent position as the Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, Stephen Lewis has been a passionate advocate of the rights and needs of children. He has also been a powerful voice for women, stressing the links between the AIDS crisis in Africa and gender.
Stephen Lewis currently heads the Stephen Lewis Foundation which is a non-profit organization helping people affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa. The foundation funds grassroots projects, for example providing care to women who are ill; assisting orphans and other AIDS affected children from the payment of school fees to the provision of food; supporting grandmothers who almost single-handedly care for their orphan grandchildren; and supports associations of people living with HIV/AIDS.
The World Citizenship Award is one of many accolades received by Stephen Lewis – in 2003 he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada; also in 2003, Canada’s Maclean’s magazine honoured Mr Lewis as their inaugural Canadian of the Year. In 2005 TIME magazine listed him as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Stephen Lewis’ best selling book, Race against Time, earned him the CBA’s Author of the Year for 2005.
Within the global arena, he has helped to raise awareness, influence governments and policy decisions, renew commitments, and bring about global change on the issue of HIV/AIDS. At the other end of the spectrum, through his Foundation, Stephen has made a difference to the lives of individuals living with HIV/AIDS every day.
Wangari Maathai: Green Belt Movement
Wangari Maathai is the first female African Nobel Prize Holder. She received it in 2004 for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace. She also was the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctoral degree.
In 1976, Professor Maathai introduced the tree planting concept to ordinary citizens. This grew into the Green Belt Movement, a grassroots movement which focuses mainly on helping women’s groups plant trees to conserve the environment and improve the quality of life. In addition, the Green Belt Movement campaigns on education, nutrition and other women’s issues. The Movement has helped women plant more than 30 million trees, and has grown into the Pan African Green Belt Network.
In 1998, Professor Maathai joined the Jubilee 2000 Coalition and co-chaired the Africa campaign, playing a lead role in seeking the cancellation of debts of poor countries in Africa.
In 2002, Mrs Maathai was elected to Kenya’s Parliament and later became the Assistant Minister for the Environment. She is the Presiding Officer of the Economic, Social and Cultural Council of the African Union. In 2006, Mrs Maathai was awarded with France’s highest honour – the Legion d’Honneur.
Mrs Maathai’s work and influence has grown from a one woman campaign to save the environment to being internationally recognised for her struggle for democracy, human rights, and environmental conservation.