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Princess of Asturias Awards

09/04/2013

The Spanish Organization for the Blind (ONCE), Prince of Asturias Award for Concord

The Spanish Organization for the Blind (in Spanish, Organización Nacional de Ciegos Españoles or ONCE) was bestowed with the 2013 Prince of Asturias Award for Concord, as made public on 4th september in Oviedo by the jury responsible for conferring said Award.

Spanish Organization for the Blind (ONCE), 2013 Prince of Asturias Award for Concord. ©FPA

The jury for this Award –convened by the Prince of Asturias Foundation– was chaired by Javier Fernández Fernández, President of the Principality of Asturias, and composed of Ramón Aguirre Rodríguez, Fernando de Almansa Moreno-Barreda, Viscount of Castillo de Almansa, José Ramón Álvarez Rendueles, Rosa Isabel Aza Conejo, Adolfo Barthe Aza, Antonio Basagoiti García-Tuñón, Antonio Brufau Niubó, Francisco Daurella Franco, Felipe Fernández Fernández, Pedro Luis Fernández Pérez, José Antonio Fernández-Rivero, Emilo Ferré Sole, Francisco de la Fuente Sánchez, José Luis García Palacios, Agustín Iglesias Caunedo, Teresa Mallada de Castro, Carmen Moriyón Entrialgo, María del Pino Calvo-Sotelo, Matías Rodríguez Inciarte, Ángel Ron Güimil, Pedro Sanjurjo González, Ramón Sotomayor Jáuregui, Antonio Suárez Gutiérrez, José B. Terceiro Lomba, José María Villanueva Fernández, Juan Miguel Villar Mir, Marquis of Villar Mir, Santiago de Ybarra y Churrruca, Count of El Abra, Santiago Zaldumbide Viadas and Pedro de Silva Cienfuegos-Jovellanos (acting as secretary).

This candidature was put forward by Ángel García, president of Messengers of Peace, Rafael del Río, president of Cáritas, and Soledad Suárez, president of Manos Unidas, Prince of Asturias Award for Concord in 1994, 1999 and 2010, respectively; and by Juan Manuel Suárez, president of the Spanish Red Cross, and Consuelo Crespo, president of UNICEF-Spain. It was seconded, among others, by former presidents Felipe González and Jose Luis R. Zapatero and the president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz.

The Spanish Organisation for the Blind (ONCE) was created in 1938 when several existing blind associations joined together with the aim of providing a means for these people to earn a living and not depend on an allowance. The ONCE is a corporation whose priority is to promote initiatives that improve the quality of life of blind and visually impaired people. This social institution has recognition and protection from the State to sell tickets for the ONCE lottery, which funds the organisation and creates jobs for many of its members. The first draw took place on 8th May 1939.

The ONCE provides an aid package to over 71,000 blind or severely visually impaired people living in Spain. Most of this aid is free of charge and ranges from basic visual rehabilitation, financial aid for healthcare and specialised education to access to culture, sports and the promotion of employment. The organisation is at the forefront of job creation for the disabled in Spain. With more than 20,000 workers engaged in selling their lottery tickets, the ONCE is run by its own members and has diversified its resources via business investments that combine economic and social returns. Accordingly, since 1986 it has boosted its presence in economic activities through its shareholding and management of businesses that create jobs and assist in the integration of blind and visually impaired people. In 2012, 57,168 workers –57.1% (32,656) of which have some kind of disability– formed part of the organisations and companies that comprise the ONCE and its Foundation. Courses were held that same year involving over 37,000 people.

The organisation is structured as a business through: the ONCE Foundation, created in 1988 to promote the integration of people with disabilities into the workplace and universal accessibility to improve their quality of life and which represents represents almost four million disables Spaniards; the Fundosa Group, an organisation that brings together various fully- and partially-owned companies, which was founded a year later, with current sales of around 300 million per year and a staff of nearly 9,000 employees; and the ONCE Business Corporation (Spanish acronym, CEOSA), a company founded in 1994 with the aim of seeking funding means other than lottery tickets which is present in several industry sectors. Over 80,000 jobs have been created through the Foundation, which is financed via 3% of gross sales of the lottery tickets. Moreover, in 2012 alone, 7,300 people benefitted from its courses and it created or mediated in the creation of 4,200 new jobs.

The ONCE also undertakes wide-ranging international efforts, especially through the ONCE Foundation for Solidarity with the Blind of Latin America (Spanish acronym, FOAL), created in 1998 as an initiative of the Cooperation with Latin America Fund, in existence since the 1980s. The ONCE has undertaken actions in 19 countries in America in the fields of education (benefiting more than 121,000 blind schoolchildren), training and the workplace, reaching out to more than 52,000 people in the last four years. The ONCE is a member and promoter of the European Blind Union, the World Blind Union and the International Council for Education of the Blind, it forms part of the European Disability Forum, working with the UN Committee of Experts on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and, since 2000, has acted at a European level to pursue the goal that EU directives should take disabled people into account.

The ONCE has received several awards. These include the Paralympic Order in 2004, the highest award given by the International Paralympic Committee, for its proven track record and efforts in promoting sports among people with disabilities. According to the Statutes of the Foundation, the Prince of Asturias Awards aim “to reward scientific, technical, cultural, social and humanitarian work carried out at an international level by individuals, institutions or groups of individuals or institutions”. In keeping with these principles, the Prince of Asturias Award for Concord shall be conferred on those “whose work contributes outstandingly to the defence of human rights, to the promotion of peace, freedom, solidarity, the protection of heritage and, in general, to the progress of Mankind”.

The Regulations establish that the following may present nominations for the different Prince of Asturias Award categories: award winners from previous editions, those personalities and institutions invited to do so by the Foundation, Spanish embassies, diplomatic missions in Spain, the members of the eight Juries, provided they do not submit nominations for the Award in the category corresponding to the jury of which they are a member, and other personalities and institutions of renown.

This year a total of 37 candidatures from Argentina, Bangladesh, Belarus, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Egypt, El Salvador, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Romania, Russia, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela and Spain ran for the award.

This is the last of the eight Prince of Asturias Awards to be bestowed in this their thirty-third edition. The Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts went to Austrian filmmaker and playwright Michael Haneke, the Prince of Asturias Award for Social Sciences was given to Dutch sociologist Saskia Sassen, the Prince of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities went to US photographer Annie Leibovitz, the Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research was jointly bestowed on physicists Peter Higgs (UK) and François Englert (Belgium), together with the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), the Prince of Asturias Award for Literature was given to Spanish writer Antonio Muñoz Molina, the Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation went to the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science and the Prince of Asturias Award for Sports was given to Spanish golfer José María Olazábal.

Each Prince of Asturias Award comprises a Joan Miró sculpture, representing and symbolising the Awards, a cash prize of 50,000 euros, a diploma and an insignia.

The awards will be presented in the autumn in Oviedo at a grand ceremony chaired by HRH The Prince of Asturias.

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