For the first time since the Gates Foundation has hosted the Global Goalkeepers Awards, a set of honors given to leaders around the world to drive progress toward global goals, the awardees were all women.
"Global Goals" were established by the United Nations in New York in 2015, with the main ideas centering on actions including ending poverty, fighting inequality and injustice, and stoping climate change. The Gates Foundation hosts their awards event in order to celebrate the people driving progress toward those goals.
The organization hosted activists, influencers, media leaders, and global champions for a two-day event that included the awards ceremony, panel discussions, and special performances by George the Poet and Grammy-nominated singer Somi.
Four major awards were presented during the ceremony:
The Global Goalkeeper Award
The 2022 Global Goalkeeper Award was presented by Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates. The award recognizes a leader who has driven progress on a global scale toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
This year’s award was presented to Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, who showed determination in leading both the EU and the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, from crisis management to long-term recovery efforts.
"Please allow me to dedicate it and to share it with millions of ordinary Europeans who have helped us all to make it through the pandemic. From the scientists who developed the life-saving vaccines to the frontline workers in our hospitals and the essential services, this award is also for them," von der Leyen said during her acceptance speech at the awards event.
The Campaign Award
The 2022 Campaign Award was presented by Malala Yousafzai. The award celebrates a campaign that has raised awareness or built a community by inspiring action and creating change.
This year’s award was 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.
"Like young people everywhere, I want to look toward a future that is fair and just for all," Nakate said in her acceptance speech.
The Changemaker Award
The 2022 Changemaker Award was presented by Angelina Jolie. The award 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 through her media platform Rukhshana Media.
In an emotional acceptance speech, Joya said, "Ladies and gentlemen, it is hard to explain to you in words just how much Afghan women have lost in just one year. We are now fighting for our basic rights – the right to go to school, the right to be allowed to work, the right to wear what we like. We, at Rukhshana Media, have a difficult and long way ahead. Our fight has just started. I want to tell you that we will not surrender to the forces of darkness."
The Progress Award
The 2022 Progress Award, which was presented by Lilly Singh, celebrates an individual who supports progress via a science, technology, digital, or a business initiative.
This year’s award was presented to Dr. Radhika Batra, of India, for her work to tackle health inequalities by providing health-care solutions to disadvantaged children.
After a sweet tribute to her parents and dedicating the award to frontline health-care workers across the globe, Dr. Batra described the health inequalities that she has witnessed first hand throughout her work.
"Today, I pledge to dedicate my life to the eradication of this horrible injustice from the world and making sure that every infant matters," she said.
While this may have been the first time that all of the awardees were women, thousands of women have been fighting the long fight towards the global goals on local, national, and global scales for many years. The celebration was for all of them and the progress they're making.
“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 shows 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.”
For more on the Gates Foundation and the Global Goalkeepers Awards event, visit their website.