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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 (Bra, Cuneo, Italy, 1948 - ) was European Commissioner for Consumer Policy, Fisheries and the Humanitarian Aid Office at the time of receiving the 1998 Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation. After studying in her hometown, she graduated in Modern Languages and Literature from Bocconi University in Milan. In 1975, she founded the Information Centre on Sterilization and Abortion and promoted a referendum for the legalization of abortion in Italy, being arrested for the first time for civil disobedience. The following year, the Radical Party stood for parliament for the first time, with Bonino being elected to the Italian Chamber of Deputies, a situation that was to be repeated in 6 more legislatures: 1979, 1983, 1987, 1992, 1994 and 2006.

In 1986, she was one of the main promoters of the referendum against nuclear energy that led to Italy abandoning its civil nuclear programme. In 1994, she was appointed Head of the National Delegation to the General Assembly of the United Nations by the Italian Government to discuss the moratorium on the death penalty. As head of humanitarian aid for the European Commission, Bonino made several trips to areas of conflict: Somalia, denouncing the regime of the Lords of War; Sudan; Kurdistan, suffering from the sanctions imposed on the regime of Saddam Hussein; Afghanistan, to denounce the Taliban regime for its restrictions on the population, and on women in particular; Guinea-Bissau, where she mediated between the government and the guerrillas; and Sierra Leone. She resigned office on 15th March 1999, as did the rest of the members of the Santer Commission, due to the accusations of fraud and misappropriation of funds against Commissioner Édith Cresson.

In June of that same year, she stood once again for the European Parliament on her own list, the Bonino List, obtaining 8.5% of the Italian vote and 7 MEPs. The Bonino List joined the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe in 2004. In 2006, Bonino was appointed Minister of European Policy and International Trade in Romano Prodi’s cabinet and was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2013 in the government led by Enrico Letta. She left the Foreign Ministry following Matteo Renzi’s rise to power.

She founded the Food and Disarmament International in 1981.

The numerous international awards she has received include the Grand Cross of the Order of May (Argentina, 1995), the Order of Duke Branimir (Croatia, 2002), the President of the Republic Award (Italy, 2003), Italy’s European Woman of 2004 Award and the 2004 Open Society Prize, among others.

Fatiha Boudiaf

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Fatiha Boudiaf (Oran, Algeria, 1944 - ), widow of former Algerian President Mohammed Boudiaf –murdered in 1992 by a fundamentalist– has lived in exile for twenty-eight years. After the death of her husband, she decided to stay in Algeria, where she presides over the Boudiaf Foundation. This institution works to perpetuate in the memory of the Algerian people the ideals of freedom, progress and social justice, to spread the message of peace that President Boudiaf carried and to help Algerian women, in particular, widows.

Olayinka Koso-Thomas

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Olayinka Koso-Thomas (Sierra Leone, 1937 - ), of Nigerian nationality, resides in Sierra Leone and has been working for more than 15 years in favour of the abolition of female genital mutilation, which has led her to be frequently threatened by the “Bundo” secret society. Member of several medical associations, she chairs the Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices that affect the health of women and children and has published several articles on cultural practices that affect the reproductive and health rights of women. In 1987, she wrote The Circumcision of Women: A Strategy for Eradication.

Graça Machel

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Graça Machel (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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Rigoberta Menchú Tum (Uspantán, Guatemala, 1959) is a Guatemalan indigenous leader, member of the K’iche’ Maya people, defender of human rights, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize (1992). She suffered the torture and murder of several members of his family at the hands of the armed forces. She subsequently began her peaceful struggle in defence of human rights and the Maya civilization. Her ongoing commitment to the most underprivileged forced her to go into exile in Mexico in 1981, when she was threatened and persecuted on numerous occasions. Menchú participates in the process of pacification of her country and has led various UN initiatives in defence of the indigenous American populations. On 12th February 2007, she announced she would run in Guatemala’s presidential elections that year for the WINAQ and Encuentro por Guatemala coalition of parties, coming fifth with 3.09% of the vote. Despite the defeat, on 7th May 2011, the WINAQ indigenous party chose her along with other parties as the Frente Amplio de Guatemala coalition’s presidential candidate for the 2011 presidential elections. She came sixth, obtaining 3.27% of the valid votes cast.

Since May 2004, she supports the work and commitment of the Fundación Comparte [Share Foundation] in Latin America, with the aim of educating towards a culture of peace and collaborating in the defence of the rights of thousands of children. From 2003 to 2008, she became involved with the Mexican pharmaceutical industry as president of the company Salud para Todos [Health for All] (a Guatemalan subsidiary of Farmacias Similares, now called Farmacias del Doctor Simi), with the aim of providing generic medicines at low prices.

She holds honorary degrees from the Universities of Cochabamba (Bolivia), UCA (Nicaragua), Costa Rica, Meiji Gakuin (Japan), Columbia (USA), Seville (Spain) and Saskatchewan (Canada), among others. She has published several books, including I Rigoberta Menchú. An Indian Woman in Guatemala (1984), Rigoberta: la nieta de los Mayas [Rigoberta: Granddaughter of the Mayas] (1998) and the children’s book El vaso de miel [The Glass of Honey] (2003).

The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) granted special consultative status to the Rigoberta Menchú Tum Foundation in 2003.

Fatana Ishaq Gailani

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Fatana Ishaq Gailani (Afghanistan, 1954 - ) is president and founder of the Afghan Women’s Council (AWC), created in mid-1993, and resident in a refugee camp in Pakistan. She received death threats from the Taliban, which prompted Amnesty International to issue an urgent bulletin in 1999 to protect her.

The Afghan Women’s Council is made up of schoolteachers, university lecturers and PhD holders. Its aim is to provide educational and health services to Afghan children and women in refugee areas and to train women on the issue of women’s rights within the cultural and religious traditions of Afghanistan.

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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