Jaha Mapenzi Dukureh founder and CEO of the Non-Governmental organisation “Safe Hands for Girls” and Damien Carême, Mayor of Grande-Synthe are the laureates of the North-South Prize of the Council of Europe 2018.
Through “Safe Hands for Girls”, Jaha Dukureh provides support to African women and girls who survive Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and addresses its lifelong, harmful physical and psychological consequences. Alongside women’s organizations and civil society, she contributed to the Gambian Government’s ban on FGM after youth mobilization and campaigning in the country.
Born in The Gambia in 1989, Ms. Dukureh is a survivor of FGM and was forced into child marriage at the age of 15. Her life story was captured in a 2017 documentary, "Jaha´s Promise", about a brave woman whose ultimate vision is to ensure that FGM and child marriage become horrors of the past.
In February 2018, UN Women appointed Ms Dukureh as the first Regional Goodwill Ambassador for Africa. In 2016, Time Magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people.
Damien Carême, a French politician, is the Mayor of Grande-Synthe, in the outskirts of Dunkirk. He is a strong promoter of social equality and ecology, being responsible for the creation of “communal gardens” and the introduction of 100% of biological products in school canteens, among other measures. In 2010, Grande-Synthe was elected “capital of biodiversity” and received the "Fleur d'Or", "Ville Zéro Phyto", and the "Citizen Energy” awards.
Mr. Carême is also known as the “mayor of migrants” for the strong stand he took in favour of refugees throughout his mandate. In 2017, he led the construction of a humanitarian camp which provides shelter for thousands of migrants whose freedom of movement was suspended at the French-UK border. The camp, built without financial support from the State and in compliance with the norms of the United Nations, has the capacity to accommodate 2500 people.
In 2016, he was a finalist of the "Best Mayor of the World" competition, an honorary title awarded by the City Mayors Foundation. He was also President of the Association of Mayors Ville & Banlieue de France (AMVBF) between 2014 and 2015.
With this award, the jury of the North-South Prize has chosen to honour these two outstanding citizens for their extraordinary achievements and personal commitment in promoting North-South solidarity and human rights.
About the North-South Prize
The North-South Prize of the Council of Europe is awarded each year since 1995 to two candidates who have stood out for their exceptional commitment to promoting North-South solidarity. The candidates, preferably a man and a woman, must have distinguished themselves in the areas of protection of human rights, defence of pluralist democracy, public awareness raising on issues of global interdependence and solidarity. Despite the variety of nationalities and fields of action of those that have received the Prize since its creation, they all have in common a strong commitment to the promotion of North-South partnership.
The list of previous laureates includes personalities such as Kofi Annan, Simone Veil, His Highness the Aga Khan, Roula Dashti, Souhayr Belhassen, Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan, Bob Geldof, Emma Bonino, Danielle Mitterrand, among many others.