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The Princess of Asturias Foundation

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Emma Bonino, Olayinka Koso-Thomas, Graça Machel, Fatiha Boudiaf, Rigoberta Menchú, Fatana Ishaq Gailani and Somaly Mam

Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation 1998

Emma Bonino, Olayinka Koso-Thomas, Graça Machel, Fatiha Boudiaf, Rigoberta Menchú, Fatana Ishaq Gailani and Somaly Mam.

This is further recognition of the need for extending the limits of exterior politics, international co-operation and diplomacy something which public opinion in all our countries expects and demands. These limits must be extended to include the international law, humanitarian aid, democracy and social justice.

Emma Bonino

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Emma Bonino (Cuneo, Italy, 1948 - ) is the European Commissioner for Fishing, Consumer Affairs, and Humanitarian Aid. Delegate of the Italian Radical Party, of which she has been secretary, she founded the Food and Disarmament International Association in 1981, of which she has been general secretary since 1985. In the late eighties she presented a proposal for a law that would allocate one billion dollars for the struggle against hunger, continued her activity in favour of human rights, started a campaign for the abolition of the death penalty, and acted as the driving force behind the creation of a permanent tribunal of the UNO that would judge crimes against humanity. This year Enma Bonino led an international awareness campaign against the oppression suffered by the women of Kabul.

Fatiha Boudiaf

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Fatiha Boudiaf (Oran, Algeria, 1944), widow of the ex-President of Algeria Mohammed Boudiaf (assassinated in 1992 by fundamentalists), has lived in exile for twenty-eight years. After the death of her husband she decided to stay in Algeria, where she runs the Boudiaf Foundation. This institution strives to perpetuate the ideals of freedom, progress, and social justice in the minds of the Algerian people, so as to disseminate the message of peace that President Boudiaf was a proponent of and to help Algerian women, especially those who are widowed.

Olayinka Koso-Thomas

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native of Nigeria, resides in Sierra Leone and has been working for more than 15 years for the abolition of female genital mutilation, which has made her the target of frequent threats from the Bundo secret society. Member of several medical associations, she heads the Inter-African Committee on traditional practices that affect the health of women and children, and she has published several articles on the cultural practices that affect women´s health and reproductive rights. In 1987 she wrote "Female Circumcision: Strategy for Its Eradication".

Graça Machel

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(Mozambique, 1945) is the founder and President of the Foundation for Community Development and the President of the United Nations´ Research Commission on the impact of armed conflict on infancy. She has been Minister of Education. After the death of her husband, Samora Machel (first President of Mozambique after independence), Graça Machel has focused her activity on protecting the children who have been victims of the civil war that has ravaged her country.

Rigoberta Menchú

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was born in 1959 in the Indian settlement of Chimel, in Guatemala. After suffering through the torture and assassination of various members of her family by the armed forces, she began her non-violent struggle in defence of human rights and the Mayan civilisation. Her permanent commitment to the most underprivileged forced her to seek exile in Mexico in 1981, after being threatened and persecuted on numerous occasions. Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992, Menchú takes part in her country´s pacification process, and she has headed diverse United Nations initiatives in defence of the indigenous populations of Latin America.

Fatana Ishaq Gailani

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Fatana Ishaq Gailani (Afganistan, 1954 - ) , who comes from an influential family of Kabul, has become one of the most prominent advocates of Afghan women's rights. During the past several years, after she had sought refue in Pakistan in late 1978 due to her opposition to the Communist regime of Noor Mohammad Tarraki, she began her humanitarian work in 1980 by raising medical assistance for Afghan refugees. She later set up a health clinic and High School and Monthly in 1995 to serve the women and children in the fundamentalist-dominated refugee environment of Peshawar. She has, however, come into the limelight since the establishment of various women's gatherings around the world. She received the United Nations Association of Spain Award for Peace in 1999.

Somaly Mam

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Somaly Mam (Camboya, 1970 - ), descendant of the Phnong ethnic minority of Cambodia, was sold as a slave on several occasions and forced to engage in prostitution until 1991, when the man who would later become her husband got her out of the brothels of Phnom Penh. She began helping the women of the brothels and then left for France in 1993 in order to study French. In 1995 she returned to her country with a Doctors without Frontiers mission, and the following year she founded the Action Association for Women in Precarious Situations, which she has headed since then. After an intense struggle against prostitution, constant death threats have forced her to move to France, from where she continues her struggle against 'modern slavery'. She returned to Cambodia in spite of death threats to contribute to save children form sexual exploitation.

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