The DVF Awards Honorees

The following extraordinary women were honored at the 12th annual DVF Awards in Paris on November 17, 2021 as part of the Women’s Forum for the Economy & Society.

Melinda French Gates

The Lifetime Leadership DVF Award
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Dr. Rouba Mhaissen

The International DVF Award
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Wai Wai Nu

The International DVF Award
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Clarissa Ward

The Inspiration DVF Award
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Vanessa Nakate

The Next Generation
DVF Awards
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The Lifetime Leadership DVF Award

Melinda French Gates

Melinda French Gates is a philanthropist, businesswoman, and global advocate for women and girls. As co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, she shapes and approves the foundation’s strategies, reviews results, and sets the organization’s overall direction. She works with grantees and partners to further the foundation’s goal of improving equity in the United States and around the world. 
Through her work at the foundation over more than two decades, Melinda has seen first-hand that empowering women and girls can transform the health and prosperity of families, communities, and societies. Her work has led her to focus increasingly on gender equity as a lever for change. 
The International DVF Award

Dr. Rouba Mhaissen

As a half Syrian, half Lebanese woman living in Lebanon, Dr. Rouba Mhaissen felt compelled to act when the first 40 Syrian refugee families reached safety in her home country in late 2011. By December of 2011, Rouba founded Sawa for Development and Aid to address the needs of refugees forced from their homes by ongoing violence in Syria. Rouba has created innovative approaches to Sawa’s work with Syrian refugees that are holistic, inclusive, and considerate of the specific environmental and social context of the conflict and displaced individuals. 
Rouba is an activist and an advocate. She has worked as a freelance consultant and as a researcher/teaching fellow in a range of issues pertaining to education, violent conflict, activism, and forced migration. She has been involved in grassroots campaigning and high-level lobbying and advocacy work in major international conferences, interfacing with governments and international bodies on the issues of forced migration and human rights.
The International DVF Award

Wai Wai Nu

Wai Wai Nu is a former political prisoner and the founder and Executive Director of the Women’s Peace Network in Burma. She spent seven years as a political prisoner in Burma. Since her release from prison in 2012, Wai Wai has dedicated herself to working for democracy and human rights, particularly on behalf of marginalized women and members of her ethnic group, the Rohingya. Through the Women’s Peace Network, Wai Wai works to build peace and mutual understanding between Burma’s ethnic communities and to empower and advocate for the rights of marginalized women throughout Burma, and particularly in Rakhine State. Her work also aims to reduce discrimination and hatred among Buddhist and Muslim communities and to improve the human rights of the Rohingya people through documentation, convenings, and policy advocacy among key leaders in Burma and high-level international fora. 

The Inspiration DVF Award

Clarissa Ward 

Clarissa Ward is CNN’s chief international correspondent. 
She has spent nearly two decades reporting from front lines in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt and Ukraine for ABC, CBS and Fox News.  
A recipient of multiple journalism recognitions including two George Foster Peabody Awards, two Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Awards, nine Emmy Awards and two Edward R. Murrow Awards for distinguished journalism, Clarissa is the author of On All Fronts: The Education of a Journalist (Penguin Press), which details her singular career as a conflict reporter and how she has documented the violent remaking of the world from close range.
Known for her in-depth investigations and high-profile assignments, Clarissa and her team were the first foreign journalists permitted to enter Myanmar nearly two months after a military coup earlier this year. She has since reported from India at the height of the country’s deadly second wave of coronavirus and most recently from Afghanistan, where she covered the fall of Kabul and got exclusive access to former US bases now in the hands of the Taliban. 
The Next Generation DVF Award

Vanessa Nakate

Vanessa Nakate, 24, is a climate activist from Uganda. She was the First Fridays For Future climate activist in Uganda and founder of the Rise up Climate Movement, which aims to amplify the voices of activists from Africa. She began striking for the climate in her home town of Kampala in January 2019, after witnessing droughts and flooding devastating communities in Uganda. She spearheaded the campaign to save Congo’s rainforest, which is facing massive deforestation. This campaign later spread to other countries from Africa to Europe. Vanessa is now working on a project that involves installation of solar and institutional stoves in schools. She also campaigns internationally to highlight the impacts of climate change already playing out in Africa, as well as promoting key climate solutions such as educating girls. 
In 2020, Vanessa was named a UN Young Leader for the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as being listed one of the BBC's 100 Women of the year and the 100 most influential young Africans. 
She holds a degree in Business Administration in Marketing from Makerere University Business School. Vanessa was one of the young climate activists who were chosen to speak at the COP25 gathering in Spain, and she was one of 20 climate activists who penned a letter addressed a letter to the participants of the World Economic Forum in Davos, calling on them to stop subsidizing fossil fuels. 

Past Awards