Outstanding women from refugee and migrant backgrounds across Britain are to be celebrated for their impressive contributions to women’s empowerment and integration.
The women are being recognised at the Women on the Move Awards ceremony tonight in central London. Part of the Women of the World Festival on London’s Southbank, the awards are presented by Samira Ahmed and co-hosted by UNHCR and The Forum.
The winners all left their homes and loved ones, fleeing war and persecution, and managed not only to build a new life for themselves and their families, but also to support and inspire people and communities across the UK.
Syrian refugee doctor Sonia Khoury is to been named Woman of the Year and will receive her award from Annie Lennox. Sonia is a tireless advocate on the situation of Syrian refugees, and has spoken movingly about her own experiences as a Syrian refugee in support of our campaign for Britain to resettle more people. Sonia also recently starred in our photography exhibition The Refugee’s Gift, celebrating the contributions of refugees to British life.
In her work at Black Association of Women Step Out Women’s Aid, Sonia supports migrant women, particularly those fleeing domestic abuse, to establish a new life and to settle independently in the UK.
Accepting her award, Sonia said: “As a woman, and a refugee, I know how difficult it is for Syrians. I want to reflect that experience and make their voices heard. Women are so powerful, and whatever the obstacles, we can overcome them together.”
Other award winners
- The Young Woman of the Year Award goes to Chrisann Jarrett, a 20 year-old student who founded Let Us Learn, an organisation campaigning for the rights of irregular and undocumented young people frozen out of higher education by their immigration status.
- A Special Jury Award goes to Asma Mohamed Ali. Asma was born on the Brava Coast in Somalia and came to the UK in 1992 having spent much of her childhood in Kenyan refugee camps. Now working in Barnet at the Somali Bravanese Welfare Association, Asma has built a thriving centre and education programme that supports 200 students and their families.
- The Awards also recognise Pauline Hawkes as Champion of the Year. Pauline has dedicated her life to supporting asylum-seeking young people and victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation and founded her own foster care agency, the Phoenix Centre to do so. The centre now provides a home for around thirty unaccompanied young people in Tottenham. Over the years she has supported more than 200 young people in need of home.
- The ceremony also celebrates outstanding media coverage of the protection needs of refugee and migrant women. This year the Media Award goes to Giles Duley for his documentary on disabled Syrian refugees and Katie Razzall for her BBC Newsnight report on talented migrant students denied funding for higher education.