February 21, 2018

The United Nation’s top human rights official, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, and veteran Kenyan women’s health advocate Monica Oguttu, will be honored by the International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) for their leadership to defend and advance the human rights of women and girls. The awards will be presented at a gala dinner in New York City on April 17, 2018.

High Commissioner Zeid, who has served as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights since 2014, is a tireless champion for the human rights of underserved populations. He will be presented with the IWHC Visionary Leadership Award. Oguttu, whose fearless advocacy on behalf of Kenyan women and girls spans more than two decades, will receive the Joan B. Dunlop Award, named after IWHC’s founder and first president.

“As authoritarian governments worldwide seek to prop themselves up by attacking the hard-fought sexual and reproductive rights of women and girls, IWHC is thrilled to honor High Commissioner Zeid for his principled and staunch defense of those rights,” said Françoise Girard, president of the International Women’s Health Coalition.

A seasoned diplomat and negotiator, High Commissioner Zeid has broad expertise in international justice, UN peacekeeping, post-conflict resolution, and international development. High Commissioner Zeid has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to defending global human rights and multilateralism throughout his career. As UN human rights chief, he has boldly advocated for the promotion of human rights in conflict situations, denounced the silencing of activists, fought conservative rollbacks on women’s rights, and called out governments for harmful policies, including harsh restrictions on abortion and the failure to end child marriage. His term will end in September 2018.

Joan B. Dunlop awardee Monica Oguttu’s journey began in the gynecological ward of a Nairobi teaching hospital, where as a nurse she witnessed firsthand the injuries and deaths suffered by women and girls as a result of unsafe abortions. In response, Oguttu co-founded the Kisumu Medical and Education Trust (KMET) in 1996—an IWHC grantee partner organization that provides comprehensive reproductive health services to women and girls and advocates for their rights. KMET runs 22 clinics across the western region of Kenya, an area struggling with high rates of adolescent pregnancy and of maternal death due to unsafe abortion. The organization also provides support for 109 clinics to ensure adequate reproductive health care services. KMET’s integrated service delivery approach is now threatened as a result of the US Mexico City Policy, also known as the Global Gag Rule—reinstated and expanded by President Donald Trump—which prevents all foreign organizations receiving US global health assistance from providing abortion-related information, referrals, or other related services, even with their own funding.

“Monica Oguttu’s passionate advocacy has won victories for Kenya’s most marginalized women and girls—amplifying their reproductive health demands and bringing them into the global halls of power,” said Girard. “Her technical expertise as a health provider, coupled with her knack for strategic advocacy at the national and global levels, have saved the lives and protected the reproductive rights of thousands of women and girls.”


About IWHC:

The International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC) advances the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls worldwide through advocacy, grantmaking and movement building. Visit our website to learn more about our work.

Note to Editors:

The IWHC 2018 Annual Dinner will be held on April 17, 2018 at 6:30pm in New York City. Awardees and IWHC experts may be available for interviews prior to the award. The dinner is open for press coverage to a limited number of journalists. For interview requests, to express interest in covering the event, or to request high-resolution images, please contact:

A video of Monica Oguttu explaining the impact of the Global Gag Rule, can be found here, and may be embedded externally with attribution and a source link.

Contact:, (+1) 212-801-1261


Watch this short video to learn more about Monica Oguttu and her work to advance sexual and reproductive rights in Kenya.