During Theirworld’s gatherings and major events throughout the year, we regularly pay tribute to remarkable people who are making a difference through their work, their experiences or championing of other change-makers. Our awards always reflect our campaign themes of the moment. They allow us to celebrate individuals who make a difference every day to unleash the potential of the next generation through education.

Theirworld’s awards have honoured individuals who show courage and leadership in fighting for the right of every child to go to school, standing up for the rights of girls and women, or making the impossible possible.


Unlock Big Change Award - Theo Sowa

The extraordinary efforts of Theo Sowa to transform and improve the lives of girls and women in Africa and globally was recognised by Theirworld.

The former CEO of the African Women’s Development Fund was named as the 2021 winner of our Unlock Big Change Award, given to incredible women who have made significant contributions to education and gender equality. She was honoured during Theirworld’s annual International Women’s Day event.

Recorded tributes were played from renowned activist, Graça Machel, and Melinda Gates of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Read more


International Women's Day Award - Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Photo credit: Theirworld / Heathcliff O’Malley

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala – former Nigerian Finance Minister and Managing Director of the World Bank and Chair of GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance – was presented with Theirworld’s International Women’s Day Award at an event in London.

The theme of Theirworld’s event was how to #UnlockBigChange for girls and women.  The award was presented by June Sarpong, the BBC’s Director of Creative Diversity and a member of Theirworld’s Advisory Board.

Okonjo-Iweala is the first woman Director-General of the World Trade Organization.

Read more


#WriteTheWrong Awards - Shaheed Fatima QC and Jude Kelly CBE and the WOW Foundation

Theirworld’s International Women’s Day 2019 event focused on our #WriteTheWrong campaign to end the global education crisis. This year, Theirworld recognised Shaheed Fatima Q.C. as Chair of the Legal Panel to the Inquiry on Protecting Children in Conflict. Shaheed led a team of nine lawyers on the Inquiry, which culminated in the book, Protecting Children in Armed Conflict (2018; Hart/Bloomsbury Publishing). Presenting the award, Rt Hon Yvette Cooper MP described Shaheed as having “tirelessly championed the protection of vulnerable and marginalised children living in conflict affected areas…[she] has given a voice to the vulnerable children in conflict, whose future is taken from them by the stark realities of war.”

To celebrate what we can achieve for girls and women by working in partnership with each other, Theirworld presented an award to Jude Kelly CBE for creating the WOW Festivals – the collaborative platform holding festivals in every continent to share women’s stories, challenges and calls to action. Jude said: “Gender isn’t female. Gender is something that has been placed into our society to trip us up and debate around and obscure the potential of all of us.

Shaheed Fatima QC

Shaheed Fatima QC of Blackstone Chambers is a widely recognised and award-winning lawyer. Her broad practice includes commercial law, civil liberties/human rights, public law/regulatory law and public international law. Many of her cases involve an international dimension and aspects of either conflict of laws or public international law.

Jude Kelly CBE and the WOW Foundation

Jude Kelly has provided a platform for thousands of women’s voices as CEO of the Southbank Centre in London and founder of the WOW (Women of the World) festivals. WOW has reached over two million girls globally, with festivals and events taking place on every continent.


Inspiration Award - Annemiek Hoogenboom

Annemiek Hoogenboom was recognised for her creative and outstanding commitment to Theirworld in developing a school nutrition programme for Syrian refugee children in Lebanon designed and tested to support school attendance and academic attainment. Annemiek was presented the Inspiration Award by Theirworld’s Chair, Sarah Brown at a VIP Dinner during the UN General Assembly annual meetings in New York.

Read more


#ChangeTheCulture Awards - Annie Lennox, Global Survivor's Movement and Lyse Doucet

As part of Theirworld’s International Women’s Day 2018 event, four inspiring women were acknowledged through Theirworld’s #ChangeTheCulture awards. The #ChangeTheCulture award recognises those who work to change the culture of violence against girls and women around the world.

Annie Lennox

Scottish singer, songwriter, political activist and philanthropist Annie Lennox and her organisation The Circle were also awarded for their work empowering, supporting, connecting and inspiring women to become advocates and change agents.

Global Survivor’s Movement

The award was also presented to a new Global Survivors Movement working to end sexual violence in war. The movement consists of women from 14 countries around the world and Theirworld awarded two survivors, Nadia and Esperande for their efforts to #ChangeTheCulture.

Lyse Doucet

BBC’s Chief International Correspondent Lyse Doucet was also a recipient of the #ChangeTheCulture award, being honoured for bringing audiences stories from around the world for the past thirty years – and doing so from some of the most violent and terrifying situations.


Inspiration Awards - Anthony Lake, Irina Bokova and Jakaya Kikwete

Three leaders who have made outstanding contributions to give every child and young person in the world the opportunity to be educated were awarded a “Certificate of Inspiration” by Theirworld and the Global Business Coalition for Education in September 2017. The awards were presented in New York by two of Theirworld’s network of Global Youth Ambassadors – Sylvia Kakyo and Joannes Paulus Yimbesalu.

Anthony Lake

UNICEF Chief Executive Anthony Lake received his award and accepted it on behalf of the staff at the UN agency, its partners and communities.


Irina Bokova

Accepting her award, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said: “Now we have a global movement for education.” She also mentioned the creation of a “paradigm shift to make governments and societies accountable to what they do for education”.

Jakaya Kikwete

Jakaya Kikwete, former president of Tanzania and a member of the global Education Commission, accepted his award and talked about his work with the commission’s groundbreaking Learning Generation report.



Theirworld Awards - Khalida Popal and Syria’s female White Helmets

The humanitarian work of Syria’s female White Helmets and pioneering achievements of Afghan footballer Khalida Popal were recognised at Theirworld’s #RewritingTheCode International Women’s Day Breakfast in London.

Khalida Popal

Khalida Popal received recognition with the Theirworld Challenge 2017 award for her efforts to empower women and highlight the issues they face by encouraging more girls and women to get involved in sport. Khalida established eight women’s football teams in Afghanistan in the 2000s, despite the Taliban banning women from participating in sport or attending matches.

Syria’s female White Helmets

Manal and Gardenia, two female members of Syria’s Civil Defence force, accepted the Theirworld Hope 2017 award in honour of their courageous and life-saving missions. There are now more than 100 women volunteering for the White Helmets, who offer medical care, rebuild essential infrastructure and carry out search and rescue operations – all in the middle of a war zone.


#UpForSchool Awards - Shelly Esque, Holly Gordon, Aliko Dangote and Valentino Achak Deng

At Theirworld’s #UpForSchool Town Hall event in New York, four people were honoured for their work in promoting the right to education for all.

Shelly Esque

Shelly Esque, Vice President at Intel Corporation and Global Director of the company’s Corporate Affairs Group was honoured for investing in the issue of girls education.

Holly Gordon

Holly Gordon, co-founder and CEO of Girl Rising was honoured for drawing attention to the critical issue of girls’ education through the use of the powerful Girl Rising film.

Aliko Dangote

Aliko Dangote from Nigeria was honoured for his leadership in making education a cornerstone of his philanthropic and business endeavours.

Valentino Achak Deng

Valentino Achak Deng was honoured for his transformation from “Lost Boy of South Sudan” to Minister of Education – an incredible story of perseverance, leadership and advocacy.