A Global Goals pioneer has just received major recognition for her dedication to ending extreme poverty.
Global Citizen has honored Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed, with the World Leader Prize at the inaugural Global Citizen Prize award ceremony at London’s Royal Albert Hall.
The World Leader Prize celebrates “an individual in the political or advocacy space who has advocated for and implemented policy changes that have improved the lives of those suffering the effects of poverty”.
As Mohammed took to the stage on Friday night, the whole of the Royal Albert Hall stood to applaud her and her incredible work around the world, before she addressed the crowd.
“The only purpose of power is to serve with the courage of one’s conviction that all people in the world have rights that must be respected,” she said, during her truly moving speech.
“Today, our world is facing many crises: climate change, inequality, injustice, conflict. And yet, we have never had so much in our hands to make the world a more peaceful and prosperous place,” she continued. “Leaders at all levels, in all constituencies, be it business, civil society, government, you name it, have to embrace the new era of change and deliver for people and for planet.”
Mohammed is a self-made woman who paved her own way to leadership. The daughter of a veterinarian father and a nurse mother, Mohammed raised money from her community in Nigeria to study hospitality in Italy.
When she returned to Nigeria she worked in architecture for years, before leaving the private sector.
She then went on to work for three Nigerian presidents and presided over a 5% national reduction in HIV infections and a 32% reduction in maternal mortality. As Nigeria’s Minister of Environment from 2015 to 2016, she steered the country’s climate action efforts, working to protect the environment and conserve resources for sustainable development.
Prior to this, when Mohammed took the role of special advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in 2012, she took up an absolutely integral role in the creation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Leaders from around the world gathered at the United Nations headquarters in New York in 2015 to map out an action plan to end extreme poverty by 2030.
There, they set 17 Global Goals to change the world, from ending hunger to achieving gender equality. It’s these goals that shape the campaign aims of Global Citizen, alongside many other organisations and activists working around the world. Mohammed helped narrow down the 500 goals suggested by member states, to the 17 final goals, according to the Guardian.
“We know that we have a set of goals that the United Nations would like to end poverty and make sure that in our lifetime we can do something meaningful about climate change,” Mohammed said at the Global Citizen 2015 Earth Day Event.
“The beautiful thing about the Sustainable Development Goals is that, no matter which goal inspires you to start with, you will quickly see how they connect to each other,” she said. “And like children, I love them equally and celebrate them all.”
A mother of six children, Mohammed is also an Adjunct Professor in Development Practice at Columbia University, and has served on numerous international advisory boards and panels.
As well as having been named among Apolitical 2019’s 100 Most Influential People on Gender policy, and Africa Report’s 2019 100 Most Influential Africans, she has also been profiled by Vogue as one of the 13 female climate warriors on the frontline, named by Fortune as being among the World’s Greatest Female Leaders, and listed in the Nigerian Women’s Hall of Fame.
It’s a combination of all of her life’s work — and all of the work that she will continue to do in the future to hold the world accountable for its pledge to achieve the Global Goals by 2030 — that we believe makes Amina Mohammed such a deserving recipient of the Global Citizen Prize for a World Leader.
“The clock is ticking,” Mohammed reminded those assembled at the ECOSOC Partnership Forum in April.
“Climate change is ravaging the planet… staggering numbers of children and youth – especially girls and young women – still lack access to basic education and healthcare services, [and] people in many countries are starved of economic opportunities, decent work, and social protection measures,” she continued.
Success is possible, as Mohammed reminds us, but it will require greater partnerships between governments, civil society, and the United Nations, overcoming financial barriers, and prioritizing inclusion and empowerment.
Her message to Global Citizens taking action to help end extreme poverty is to not give up.
“Please keep going, especially when it gets tough,” Mohammed told us. “That’s when we need you the most. As our beloved Madiba [Nelson Mandela] said: ‘It always seems impossible until it’s done’.”
“The good news is that you are not alone,” she continued. “The connections are everywhere in this world, and the more we can stay connected, inspired, and moving forward together, the more we can do for the people who need us the most.”
“My job description is simple: to build a world where every girl & boy has the tools & support to make their dreams a reality.” #YouthCSW61pic.twitter.com/wTRRdxtNM6
— Amina J Mohammed (@AminaJMohammed) March 11, 2017
Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway accepted the first-ever Global Citizen Prize for a World Leader in 2018. Solberg was presented with the award by politician and humanitarian Graça Machel at Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 in Johannesburg, in front of an audience of some 70,000 Global Citizens.
Now, the Global Citizen Prize award ceremony in London has gone one step further — expanding out the Global Citizen Prize to shine a spotlight on artists, business leaders, youth activists, and Global Citizens who are leading the fight against extreme poverty.