Protecting and Empowering Displaced Adolescent Girls
More than 450 people came and showed their support for the Women’s Refugee Commission at the 2012 Voices of Courage Awards Luncheon on May 4. This year’s theme was protecting and empowering displaced adolescent girls. Our refugee honorees, Olga Cantarero and Rim Tekie Solomon, inspired the audience with stories of their own displacement and great courage in the face of terrifying circumstances—and their subsequent work helping displaced girls in their own communities. Corporate pioneer and former board chair of the Women’s Refugee Commission Dina Dublon was honored for her leadership and dedication to women’s and girls’ issues globally.
Our award presenters were leaders in their own fields: Indra Nooyi, chairman and CEO of PepsiCo; Liv Ullmann, Oscar-nominated actor, director and co-founder of the Women’s Refugee Commission; Emmy Award-winning journalist Maria Hinojosa; Sakena Yacoobi, executive director and founder of the Afghan Institute of Learning; Jeffrey C. Walker, former CEO and co-founder, CCMP Capital and JPMorgan Partners; and our very own executive director, Sarah Costa. Congolese sisters Sandra Uwiringiyi’mana and Adele Kibasumba sang a beautiful song, “Nzamuye Amashimwe” (“I Raise My Thanks”), that moved many in the audience to tears.
“While much of the refugee experience for girls is difficult and depressing, refugee girls are resilient and strong,” said Sarah Costa. “They strive to make the most of the opportunities they are offered. And when given the right opportunities, they can take charge of their lives. Our mission is to ensure they get the resources and support they need.”
We are happy to report that our luncheon raised more than $800,000, which will go toward supporting our work to help displaced and asylum-seeking women, children and youth around the world.
While working as a Red Cross volunteer, Olga Cantarero had to flee her native Nicaragua. She endured a harrowing journey through Mexico and across the border to Texas, fearing for her life at the hands of smugglers. She currently works at the International Emergency Shelter in Los Fresnos, Texas, with young people who faced persecution in their home countries or suffered similar trauma to hers during their own journeys to the United States.
Dina Dublon is a pioneer in advancing women and promoting gender equity in both the corporate and nonprofit worlds. The first female CFO of JPMorgan Chase, she is now a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School and a member of the Board of Directors of Microsoft, PepsiCo, Accenture and the Global Fund for Women. Dina is also a trustee of Carnegie Mellon University and chair emerita of the Women’s Refugee Commission.
Rim Tekie Solomon
The daughter of Eritrean parents, Rim Tekie Solomon grew up in a refugee camp in Sudan. She crossed the Sinai Desert on foot with her mother and six siblings to reach Israel, where she lived in a detention center and continued her education, learning Hebrew and becoming a translator. She currently works with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the African Refugee Development Center. Rim also volunteers with young African asylum-seeking women who are pregnant or new mothers.