Global Fund for Children recognizes organizations that are prioritizing the wellbeing of children in dangerous circumstances, including trafficked children and child refugees.
June 28, 2023 – WASHINGTON, DC, and LONDON – Global Fund for Children announces the winners of the 2023 Juliette Gimon Courage Awards today, recognizing the tenacity of two organizations dedicated to improving the wellbeing of children who are living in extremely vulnerable contexts.
This year’s winners are Luhansk Regional Organization – Association of Women, Youth, and Families with Disabilities of the Eastern Donbas (AMI-East) in Ukraine and Suprava Panchashila Mahila Uddyog Samity (SPMUS) in India. Both are working on issues that Juliette Gimon, the former GFC Board Chair for whom the award is named, cared deeply about: displacement and trafficking of children.
AMI-East provides comprehensive assistance to children and youth with disabilities in Ukraine. Inspired by the personal experiences of co-founder Tatiana Barantsova, who uses a wheelchair and has faced architectural inaccessibility in schools and society, the organization was founded in 2002 by a team of young people (aged 16–24) with disabilities who experienced social exclusion and lack of opportunities.
AMI-East has created an inclusive hybrid school, facilitated the evacuation and support of thousands of vulnerable families during times of crisis, contributed to legislation, and developed training programs for children and teachers to foster inclusive attitudes and approaches.
Courage has played a crucial role in the organization’s work, particularly during times of war. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, AMI-East has organized the evacuation of women and children with disabilities, provided assessments of temporary accommodations for evacuees, and made recommendations to shelters and centers to be more inclusive.
“After February 24, 2022, we went through a very difficult evacuation ourselves. Our organization has been working on an equal footing with government institutions in order to evacuate people from our native Luhansk region, which has suffered terribly during the war and much of which is now occupied,” said Tatiana Barantsova, the Director of AMI-East.
“These are people who cannot help themselves – families with children with disabilities, mothers with children with disabilities, and young people. This is our main task now – to place them, find solutions for temporary residence, restore their lives, start the rehabilitation process, restart schooling.”
SPMUS was initially inspired by the dire situation faced by impoverished families, especially women and children, in the Murshidabad District in India. Murshidabad’s shared border with Bangladesh, alongside high levels of poverty and widespread oppression of women and children, means that girls and women in the district are vulnerable to human trafficking and child marriage.
For SPMUS, courage means the ability to venture, persevere, and overcome difficulties in its work to create a society free from oppression against women and children. SPMUS has experienced challenges such as community resistance and angry mobs while raising awareness and advocating for the rights of women and children.
The organization’s most significant recent accomplishment is running a child protection center in the largest red-light area of West Bengal. Through awareness campaigns, SPMUS aims to prevent the next generation from entering the sex trade and fights discrimination against these children. The organization conducts sessions on child rights and gender issues and has rescued several minors from sex trafficking.
“With the support from GFC, we are implementing the prevention of trafficking model at the grassroots level. Our goal is to promote a safe childhood for all children through education, protection, empowerment, and justice,” said Soma Bhowmick, SPMUS Executive Director.
As a way of honoring Juliette Gimon, who passed away in 2018, Global Fund for Children gives Courage Awards through the Juliette Gimon Fund for Courageous Leadership, a more than $1 million endowment made possible by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and other donors. Gimon helped shape GFC through her wisdom, insights, and profound concern for children, changing hundreds of thousands of young lives across the globe.
“We’re thrilled to recognize AMI-East and SPMUS for their dedication to the wellbeing of children who are in extremely vulnerable and dangerous situations,” said John Hecklinger, President and CEO of Global Fund for Children. “Juliette was passionate about defending child refugees and protecting children from trafficking, and the leaders of the winning organizations are pioneers in their respective contexts, leading the charge for change.”
This year, the Courage Award Selection Committee is recognizing not only the two award winners but also the ten finalists, who will receive a monetary award. Like the 2023 winners, the finalists demonstrate inspirational courage and perseverance in addressing the needs of children and youth and fighting for social change.
ABOUT GLOBAL FUND FOR CHILDREN
Global Fund for Children partners to build a world where all children and youth enjoy equal resources and opportunities in society and live free from violence, discrimination, and exploitation. To that end, GFC invests in innovative grassroots organizations, helping them deepen their impact and develop their capacity for social change. Together, GFC and its partners advance the rights of children and youth facing poverty and injustice and equip them with the tools and skills to reach their full potential. Since 1997, GFC has invested $51 million in more than 900 organizations, reaching more than 11 million children and youth worldwide. For more information, visit www.globalfundforchildren.org.
ABOUT THE JULIETTE GIMON COURAGE AWARDS
Juliette Gimon, a former Board Chair of Global Fund for Children, passed away on February 24, 2018. GFC subsequently established the Juliette Gimon Fund for Courageous Leadership, a more than $1 million endowment made possible by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and other generous donors. Annual awards from the fund – the Juliette Gimon Courage Awards – recognize innovative grassroots organizations around the world that are positively impacting children in especially challenging circumstances. Some recipients have overcome considerable obstacles to pioneer an innovation that transforms circumstances for children and youth. Others demonstrate the courage of resilience, thriving amid unusual contextual challenges; still others have leaders who have navigated personal hardship and channeled adversity into their organization’s cause. For more information, visit www.globalfundforchildren.org/courage-awards.
ABOUT LUHANSK REGIONAL ORGANIZATION – ASSOCIATION OF WOMEN, YOUTH, AND FAMILIES WITH DISABILITIES OF THE EASTERN DONBAS (AMI-EAST)
Kyiv, Ukraine (also Riga, Latvia)
AMI-East has pioneered support for children and youth with disabilities in a society where they face social exclusion and lack of opportunities. The organization provides legal, psychological, medical, educational, and social assistance to children and young people living with disabilities in Ukraine. AMI-East works with groups in vulnerable circumstances, including children and youth who were forced to flee from their homes as a result of military conflict. During the COVID-19 pandemic and, later, the war with Russia, AMI-East became a pioneer in offering information technology programs and distance learning. For more information, visit https://ami-cxid.org/category/activity/global-fund-for-children.
ABOUT SUPRAVA PANCHASHILA MAHILA UDDYOP SAMITY (SPMUS)
Working with women and children in West Bengal, which has one of the highest rates of trafficking and child marriage in India, SPMUS offers a range of programs that focus on rescue, rehabilitation, and reintegration of trafficked women and girls; prevention of domestic violence; prevention of early marriage; and care and support for deserted women. The organization also works to change harmful long-held beliefs in the community through sensitization drives, and campaigns for the legal rights of children to be upheld. For more information, visit www.suprava.org.