The UN’s Amina Mohammed Looks Back on Winning the 2019 Global Citizen Prize for World Leader
Global Citizen spoke with the Deputy Secretary-General of the UN, Amina Mohammed, about her big win.
Since winning the Global Citizen Prize for World Leader at the inaugural Global Citizen Prize ceremony last year, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations Amina Mohammed has continued to live up to the accolade.
Mohammed helped the UN establish the 17 Global Goals to end extreme poverty in 2015, and is still holding the international community accountable to ensure that no one is left behind in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic threatens to reverse decades of progress, and an estimated 71 million people are expected to fall back into extreme poverty in 2020 alone.
But Mohammed remains hopeful. In April, she launched the Rise for All initiative to unite women leaders behind COVID-19 relief efforts.
Ahead of the 2020 Global Citizen Prize ceremony — which will be broadcast and streamed digitally worldwide from Dec. 19 — Global Citizen caught up with Mohammed, who reflected on how her World Leader prize win has motivated her, how everyday citizens can help drive change, and more. You can learn more about Global Citizen Prize — and how you can get involved — here.
What did it mean to you to win last year's Global Citizen Prize for World Leader?
It was very humbling that people are watching and are showing recognition of someone in the UN who is providing leadership for the world, because the UN often gets a battering for perhaps not stepping up as much as it should do.
I was really honored and very humbled, but it put a great sense of responsibility as well, because suddenly, yes, wow, people are watching you.
That's a huge responsibility to make sure that I am still doing the things that I ought to be doing and keeping focused on what I truly believe. Every day that I wake up, how can I make a little more effort to push the needle more to ensure that everyone has a life of dignity? That's really important.
And bringing more and more people on in solidarity. There's nothing better than teamwork. This cannot be done alone. And I take a great deal of satisfaction in bringing more and more people into this space and moving forward.
Global Citizen Prize represents an opportunity to showcase what good leadership looks like, what action looks like, because everyone you bring to the table is working…very hard to make a better world.
Why do you think it is so important for the world, especially now, to have strong leaders who focus on supporting the world's most vulnerable people?
You are only as strong as your weakest link. If we as the human race ignore the most vulnerable in our society, we will one day find ourselves being in that position. It's really important that we look at who's at the bottom of the ladder and ensure that we're lifting everyone to the same level.
As the SG [secretary general] said not long ago, “we might all be in boats, but they're all not at the same level.”
We need to make sure that that happens, that we are more equal because with that comes more stability, more prosperity, a lot more peace.
What would you say to Global Citizens out there who are inspired by your work and want to follow in your footsteps?
Within each one of us is the ability to inspire, the ability to bring people along with us.
You have to look near and far to find those things that you connect with and do them in a really big and good way, and remember that it's a journey and that every step matters. In that journey, everyone that you take with you, that you pass by, take notice, speak with them, bring them. It enriches the journey.
Within each one of us, we have the ability to do it well or not. It's our choice. And that's what we need to do. Band together, do it well, go further, and do it with conviction. Do it with courage. Be ambitious. Don't be afraid to fall. Because I believe that everyone can get up.
This is what we need to do, believe that the unimaginable is possible. I will always quote Mandela, who said, “it always seems impossible until it's done.” So just go for it.
We do have conflicts. We do have extreme poverty and inequalities. But all of those things, we've never been more equipped to deal with that than we have today. So we have no excuses, no excuses whatsoever. This human family can actually beat the odds and make it happen.
Join Global Citizen in December 2020 to celebrate the leaders among us who have stepped up against a backdrop of unprecedented global challenges to take action for the world we want — a world that is fair, just, and equal.
The broadcast and digitally streamed award ceremony will also feature inspirational stories of human strength and unforgettable performances that will bring together artists, activists, and global leaders to remind each of us that, together, we will come out of this year stronger. Find out more about the Global Citizen Prize here.