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.
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