Awards Intended to Build Global Community of Women Social Leaders

A photo taken during the 2013 Oguntê Women’s Social Leadership Awards.

Awards Intended to Build Global Community of Women Social Leaders

‘Women have to know they hold the power of positive influence in their hands’

Khalida Brohi runs Sughar Women, aiming to reduce honour killings, through providing socio-economic empowerment to tribal women in Pakistan.

Donna Morton is the co-founder and CEO of First Power Canada, an energy company with a vision to put green energy technology — and the related jobs and economic benefits — into the hands of communities.

Susan Aktemel is the founder and former CEO of IMPACT ARTS UK, which seeks to use the arts to help people change their lives.

These are just a few of the 137 women from 23 different countries who have been recognized by the global Oguntê Women’s Social Leadership Awards since it was launched in 2007.

Based in the U.K., the awards platform highlights the achievements of women worldwide whose innovative campaigns and enterprises not only benefit but also, “crucially, engage and empower the people they serve,” says Oguntê director Servane Mouazan.

Through celebrating, connecting and learning from and with women social leaders, the awards platform is intended to strengthen the growing global community of women seeking to have a positive impact on people and planet, through business, a network, a campaign, or an intermediary organization.

With respect to enabling connections, Oguntê, for instance, can refer finalists to aspiring women social entrepreneurs, angel investors and potential buyers. It is able to do this through its own significant network, which includes collaboration with leadership programs such as Common Purpose, networks such as Women in Social Finance, which is led by Suzanne Biegel, as well as Match International, a fund for women social innovators.

Past referrals have led to invitations for previous winners such as Sofia Bustamante of London Creative Labs and Benita Matofska of Compare and Share to join trips to other countries, including Jordan and China, to both share their insights and learn from other communities.

The time is ripe for such a platform, Servane adds, noting that when the Women’s Social Leadership Awards first launched very little was being done with respect to recognizing, connecting and learning from and with women in social enterprise in particular.

“In this hyper-connected age, we are witnessing the growth of entrepreneurial activism on one hand . . . and on the other hand, the expansion and recognition of women’s leadership in civic society and in business,” she says. “These two trends combined is the greatest opportunity this world can grab to turn around massive issues.”

“Women have to know they hold the power of positive influence in their hands; they can challenge assumptions and inertia.

“To influence policy and decision makers (often men) at a global level, we need to collect the evidence of women’s impact and disseminate it. One way to do so is to find amazing social leaders globally.”

Applications for the current Oguntê awards are open until March 31.

The awards are open to women globally, working or volunteering, who have made a positive impact on people and planet. This could include, but is not limited to, women leaders of social enterprises, intrapreneurs and representatives of intermediary organizations in the social enterprise sector.

To read about the category, eligibility criteria and to apply, click here.

Editor’s Note: Servane joins a live Q&A on women and social enterprises hosted by The Guardian on Jan. 23, 12-1:30 p.m. GMT. To learn more, click here.

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