The UN Women for Peace Association (UNWFPA) Annual Awards Luncheon, was held in celebration of International Women’s Day, on March 4th 2016 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City and the next on Saturday, March 5 UNWFPA hosted their annual rally and march to end violence against women at Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza.
The Annual Awards Luncheon honored four inspirational individuals and one very deserving foundation: Secretary-General H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon, HRH Princess Camilla of Bourbon Two Sicilies, Eugenio López Alonso, Francine LeFrak behalf of the Same Sky Foundation; and UNWFPA’s Patron, Mrs. Ban Soon-taek.
The Luncheon Chair was Sana H. Sabbagh and Uma Pemmaraju once again was the luncheon’s Emcee.
Secretary-General H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon, received the Leadership Award. He was unable to attend and the award was accepted by his wife UNWFPA’s Patron, Mrs. Ban Soon-taek, who also received the Peace Award for her tireless work to support women and children’s causes around the world. In a video message, the Secretary General thanked the UNWFPA for the honor, and stressed the importance of continuing to push for gender equality saying, “We have to fight injustice. We have to battle for equality. We have to put women at the center of the 2030 agenda for sustainable de elopement and the Paris agreement on climate change.”
Eugenio López Alonso (the first latin American to be honored by UNWFPA) received the International Philanthropy Award for his work with his foundation, Fundación Jumex, which supports education. Same Sky Foundation, represented by Francine LeFrak, was awarded the Achievement Award. Same Sky is a jewelry initiative that provides training and employment to women survivors of the Rwandan Genocide who are living with HIV/AIDS and gives scholarships to women and girls studying STEM. HRH Princess Camilla of Bourbon Two Sicilies received the Humanitarian Award. The Princess is involved in many different charitable activities, which include opening “Family House” for women with HIV and their children, the “Sensorial Garden” for elderly women with Alzheimer’s, and has raised fund to combat women’s cancer.
On Saturday March 5, the non-profit hosted their annual rally and march, “March in March.” The rally was held at Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza, 47th Street between First and Second Avenues and then supporters marched to 42nd and First Avenue where. The event was in celebration of International Women’s Day. Journalist Lisa Daftari emceed the rally. Grand Marshall, Dionne Warwick led thousands in a march to end violence against women. The 40 members of Brooklyn’s own Christian Cultural Center choir marched with the crowds and sang What the World Needs Now Is Love.
Warwick received the 2016 the Voice of Peace Award, she said “I am grateful to have been asked by this most incredible group of ladies to be an honoree, and moreover, to be the Grand Marshal too. What greater honor could there be! I truly am beside myself with joy and look forward to being a part of this most prestigious event.”
Chair and Co-Founder of UN Women For Peace Association, Muna Rihani Al-Nasser opened the rally by saying “It is 2016 and still nearly 5 million women and girls are living in slavery, victims of human trafficking. 60 million more are child brides, and 140 million live with the pain of enforced genital mutilation. ISIS is selling women and girls for less that $25, this is less than a pair of shoes. Even here in the United States, every 9 seconds a women is assaulted or beaten. Nearly 20 people per-minute are physically abused by an intimate partner. Crimes against women are crimes against humanity. It’s not only a women’s issue, it’s a men’s issue as well. It is the responsibility of each one of us. Just by being here today you are making difference.”
Deputy Chief Juanita Holmes said “Just because the word violence is proceeded by the word domestic it does not make the violence any softer, it does not make the violence any less.”
Actress Kat Graham energized crowd by saying “I’m proud to be here with the United Nations Women For Peace Association, an organization of women FOR women, that takes the opportunity to shine a light on the violence perpetrated against women all over the world and says “Enough is enough!” Women from all corners of the globe, no matter if they face the horrors of war as far away as Syria or if they are the target of sexual violence right here in the United States, Women for Peace says no woman should endure such hardships and will do all they can to put an end to their suffering. We have to continue to send the signal to these women that they are not alone.”