Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg has been awarded the inaugural Global Citizen Prize for a World Leader for her unreserved commitment in fighting for the protection of women and girls’ rights.
Solberg was presented with the award by Graça Machel — politician, humanitarian, and widow of late statesman Nelson Mandela — at the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100, presented and hosted by the Motsepe Foundation, on Sunday in Johannesburg.
Machel, who also champions the rights of African women while empowering them through her many empowerment initiates, said acknowledging and celebrating the values of true leadership is at the heart of the Global Citizen Prize.
“It is my honour to present the inaugural Global Citizen Prize for a World Leader,” Machel said.
“Through her work as co-chair of the UN Secretary General’s Sustainable Development Advocacy Group, and head of one of the most progressive countries in the world, the winner of this year’s prize is a force of global policy, economics, and development,” she continued.
She added: “[Solberg] has demonstrated a commitment to global education; support for sexual and reproductive health, and rights for women and girls; and as a co-founder of the Education Commision, she pushes to have all children everywhere in school within a generation."
The award is presented in recognition of the excellence of individuals who work towards ending extreme poverty through impactful initiatives, including using their political or advocacy space to push for and implement policy changes that alleviate suffering as a result of the effects of poverty.
“Hello Johannesburg! And greetings to all Global Citizens. Thank you very much, Graça!” said Solberg, as she accepted the award. “Thank you for this prize. It means the world to me. And, as you know, we are the world. And we must work together to get the world that we want.”
“Everybody out there — let us now work together for a just and a sustainable society,” she continued.
Solberg, whose political career spans almost three decades, advocates for vulnerable groups — especially women and children — and has made it her business to see to it that women and young girls are afforded equal opportunities and rights.
Recently, she teamed up with Burkina Faso President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in establishing the Global Financing Facility (GFF) in support of women, children, and adolescents to receive quality health care and nutrition.
We are working together to increase countries’ investments in health and nutrition and save the lives of millions of women, children and adolescents by 2030. Read our article in @TheLancet. @RochKabore@MelindaGates@JimYongKimJim#InvestInHealthhttps://t.co/n1HdVXuoKO— Erna Solberg (@erna_solberg) November 2, 2018
Solberg, in her speech, said the world was grateful to the former UN Secretary-Generals the late Kofi Annan, Ban Ki-moon, and to the current Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for their leadership when it comes to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“There are many great partnerships, and Goal No. 17 of the Sustainable Development Goals is about partnerships," Solberg said. “Take Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, as an example. Since 2000, Gavi has contributed to the immunisation of more than 690 million children.”
"But make no mistake, we must all contribute if we are going to achieve the Global Goals," she continued.
Solberg said she didn’t win the prize for herself, but dedicated it to everyone who takes action for the creation of a more sustainable world — "that means you!"
She said: “By taking action, you are Global Citizens. For your neighbourhood, for your country, for our world. And before I finish, let us bring to mind the words of Global Citizen Number One, Nelson Mandela: 'As long as poverty, injustice, and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest.'"
The Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 is presented and hosted by The Motsepe Foundation, with major partners House of Mandela, Johnson & Johnson, Cisco, Nedbank, Vodacom, Coca Cola Africa, Big Concerts, BMGF Goalkeepers, Eldridge Industries, and associate partners HP and Microsoft.