April 8, 2013
The International Women’s Health Coalition held its annual gala at The Pierre in New York City on April 8, 2013.
Nearly 300 friends and supporters joined IWHC in honoring Christiane Amanpour, Global Affairs Anchor for ABC News and host of Amanpour on CNN International, for being a “champion for women and girls.”
In addition, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA, presented the first annual Joan B. Dunlop Award to Adenike Esiet of Action Health Incorporated for her work in advancing the sexual health and rights of adolescents in Nigeria.
Christiane Amanpour is CNN’s chief international correspondent and anchor of Amanpour, a nightly foreign affairs program on CNN International. In addition, she is the global affairs anchor for ABC News, providing international analysis of important issues of the day for ABC News programs and platforms, and anchoring primetime documentaries on international subjects.
Adenike Esiet, a sociologist and youth health advocate, is Co-Founder and Executive Director of Action Health Incorporated (AHI), based in Lagos. Since 1989, she has contributed to building AHI from an idea into a vibrant organization that combines community-based programming with national policy advocacy for sexual health and rights.
During her remarks, Christiane Amanpour said that she has featured women and girls in her reporting for the past three decades because women and children “are the last minority who can have their rights trampled on… with virtual impunity.” She stressed that the need for IWHC and women’s rights activists to continue the fight is as strong as ever.
“It’s amazing to me that in Pakistan and elsewhere, women are still having acid thrown in their faces. It’s against the law, but it’s still happening,” said Amanpour. “It’s amazing to me that in India, in wherever we look these days including in the United States of America, that gang rape continues. It’s against the law, but it continues and why? Because there is not enough of a wave to stand up and say, ‘This is not all right.'”
She continued, “As long as one case is not prosecuted, as long as one incident goes with impunity, it will never stop. And that’s why this work of IWHC, among all the other things it does, is so important.”
At the gala, IWHC also presented the first Joan B. Dunlop Award to Adenike Esiet, Executive Director of Action Health Incorporated (AHI) in Lagos, Nigeria. IWHC created the award in tribute to the extraordinary legacy of Joan Dunlop. Presented annually, the award recognizes deserving activists working to advance the sexual and reproductive rights and health of women and girls in developing countries.
IWHC selected Esiet to receive the first annual award in honor of her outstanding efforts to advance the health and rights of adolescents in Nigeria. Since 1989, she has contributed to building AHI from an idea into a vibrant organization that combines community-based programming with national policy advocacy for sexual health and rights. Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund, presented Esiet with the award.
Dr. Osotimehin credited Esiet for developing the country’s comprehensive sexuality program, noting that this was no small task in a very complex country.
“When people talk to me about our inability to talk about sexuality education, when they talk to me about culture, and when they talk to me about tradition, I tell them there is nowhere in the world where we cannot break through this,” he said. “It requires us to be humble enough, it requires dialogue with people, it requires us to respect the space of other people, and I think that’s what Adenike did. And that’s what has brought her here today.”
Esiet noted that “the clinic that IWHC supported us to establish in 1994 still functions in Lagos today. Every year, at least 3,000 young people get to access services in this clinic. And people come from all over Nigeria. Public health practitioners come to learn how to serve young people.”
“This award is really invigorating,” continued Esiet. “It’s a strong reminder that we cannot sheath our swords just yet. There’s still unfinished business with making sexuality education comprehensive and more accessible to young people across the world, especially girls. The need is even greater now more than ever for young people, especially girls, to be able to access sexual and reproductive health services.”