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Prize for Women's
Creativity in Rural Life



Selected Messages & News from Laureates


Laureate 2005 – Dem. Rep. Congo - Esther OPANGA: "It is with great joy that we receive this prize. We present our sincere thanks to WWSF for this honor! We are convinced that this prize opens wider horizons for our Nation, and in particular for rural woman who are considered the principal actors of development in rural communities."

Laureate 2005 – Kyrgyzstan - Elmira IBRAIMOVA: "I am very honoured to receive this prize on behalf of WWSF. It is a reward not only for me, but for all the rural women of Kyrgyzstan!"

Laureate 2005 – Kyrgyzstan - Mairam UMURZAKOVA: "Thank you for your recognition and for your efforts to improve the situation for women who live in rural settings around the world."

Laureate 2005 – India - Dhuliben KHANT& Revaben BARIYA: "It is the first time that we receive an award; neither people in our village, nor our families, nor ourselves knew what a Prize was. Thanks to WWSF we received a Prize and discovered its significiance."

Laureate 2005 – Indonésie - Tisna Sutisnawaty NANDO: plans to give a part of the prize money to a woman in Aceh who works for Tsunami orphans.

Laureate 2005, Dem. Rep. CONGO - Esther OPANGA: her organization currently takes part in a public awareness raising campaign for rural women and girls focusing on tracking AIDS in Lodja, the third most infected city by the virus.

Laureate 2003 - India - Leela S. RAJASEKHAR: thanks to education projects set up by the organization, mentalities on arranged marriages in the village of Amboth Tanda are changing. Until recently, girls were married off as of the age of 10-11 years. Now, they can finish school and some even go to college. The parents, often illiterate, are now sensitized and motivated to provide education for their daughters.

Laureate 1998 - UK - Marthe KILEY-WORTHINGTON: Mrs. Kiley-Worthington left to Zimbabwe at the beginning of year in order to continue her study on the elephants of Zimbabwe. She was invited to several workshops in England, France, Italy and Spain, and received a financial assistance to continue her research at the Veterinary School in Bristol,UK.

Laureate 1997 - Burkina Faso - Mariam MAIGA: from 1997 to 2005, the number of "village members" of the Zoodo Association for Promotion increased from two to eight, with a massive registration of rural women.

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Laureate 2003 – India - Thresiamma MATHEW: "It is with great joy and gratitude I write to inform you that your gesture to recognise my work for rural women has provided great publicity to the women masons programme. We have tried our best to publicize International Rural Women’s Day and campaign for the right for ICT for rural women. All local and a few national newspapers, the national TV and, a few magazines have given great publicity of the event."

Laureate 2003 – Romania - Silvia PANAITE: "I am very happy to tell you that receiving the WWSF Prize had an excellent impact. I discovered new partners in my country and started to develop new projects and campaigns."

Laureate 2003 – Senegal - N’Dew SENE: "All of Senegal, my village, the women’s group and myself are very grateful to you of your benevolence, your transparency and for your solidarity. I am very happy and satisfied to be among the award winners of the WWSF Prize for women’s creativity in rural life. I thank you infinitely."

Laureate 2003 – USA - Theresa S. HOFFMAN: "The Prize for women’s creativity in rural life presented by the WWSF honors me, my family, my tribe and other tribal basketmakers in Maine. I accept this award on behalf of the 120 members of the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance (MIBA) and our ancestor basketmakers."

Laureate 2003 – Zimbabwe - Betty MAKONI: "Many, many thanks for the good news for the Girl Child Network and indeed for all of Zimbabwe. The news came at a time when we experienced hardships and for many people the Prize brought great joy in konwing that the world recongnises the efforts by women working under difficult circumstances which is very encouraging."

Laureate 2003 – Brazil - Rosa SELL: had a wonderful award ceremony on 15 October organized by the Global Ecovillage Network/Findhorn Foundation. About 130 people, including producers, consumer ecologists and authorities participated in the event. The speeches were very inspiring and ground breaking. After the ceremony, a special meal with 100% organic food produced in Rosa’s region was offered to all.

Laureate 2003 – Mongolia - Byatshandaa JARGAL: opened a poultry farming centre and trained people all over the country in farming techniques. She encouraged women to use poultry farming as a way to improve their health and their income. With her organisation MWFA, she hosted a five-day seminar in poultry farming and vegetable growing. More than 100 families benefitted from the information. Her organisation intends to reach out into rural parts of Mongolia to teach how to grow vegetables in some of the poorest and worst affected areas.

Laureate 2000 – Peru - Gladys VASQUEZ POMA: the first person of Aymará origin, who became conscious of the value of humid soils and the importance of indigenous peoples’ participation in South Amercia who live in humid areas. She suggested to the Ecuador Government an interesting proposal to create an International Resolution for humid soil areas during the Ramsar Convention which took place in Spain. The Ecuador Government took advantage of it in defence of humid soils, and requested in his proposition that all parties commit to respect humid soil aeas and its cultural values.

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Laureate 2002 – India - Sangeeta SAWALAKHE: "I am extremely grateful to WWSF for giving recognition to my work. All the newspapers in Marathi, Hindi and English of the Maharashtra State and regional TV channels gave large coverage of my award and work. Vice Chancellor, Dr. Panjabrao Deshmukh, from the Agricultural University of Akola, so appreciated my award and work that he arranged for a seminar for all Entomologists in the region, together with scientists and 2000 agriculturists, men and women, during the Agricultural exhibition at Nagpur. Due to the positive impact and recognition, it has become easy for me to achieve my goal of providing rural women agriculturists (85%-90% of the agricultural labor force in rural areas) a pollution free environment and healthy food by promoting biological control and discouraging chemical pesticidal control methods."

Laureate 2003 – Kenya - Glady CHIKA: "The award came as a new challenge and an eye opener in our pursuit to achieving equal opportunities, access and control to resources for both men and women. I shall endeavour, together with my sisters in our community, to pursue the noble course of reducing suffering and restoring hope among the disadvantaged."

Laureate 2002 – Pakistan - Amber BALOUCH: "This valuable award encourages me to commit myself to work even harder to achieven more benefits for the development and upliftment of thousands of rural women. I promise that I will always work for rural women’s empowerment as they are deprived, marginalized and victimized in various ways by their fathers, brothers, relatives and by society and the governement at all levels. The Prize money was transferred to a society working for women’s development to help expand girl’s education projects."

Laureate 2002 – Chad - Robertine DEMBETE: "The Price was officially awarded on World Rural Women’s Day – 15 October. This prize honours all women in Chad and the rural women of the province of Moundou in particular."

Laureate 2002 – India - Anthonammal AROKIASAMY: was congratulated by Government representatives and a great ceremony was organized for the award ceremony. Governmental delegates, country women and activists, as well as the local media, including television, attended the ceremony. The Prize sent pleasant waves among the rural women and conveys that they can also be achievers. 15 new women’s groups have since emerged which work for gender justice and the Government has invited Voice Trust to provide skills training in vermi composting, mushroom farming and value addition. A great breakthrough indeed.

Laureate 2002 – India - Ratni BAI: The Prize has given recognition to Ratni’s work and subsequent honors by the local government have improved her status in the community. Encouraged, Ratni Bai rededicated herself to further empower women and children. Presently, she is engaged in prevention of violence and gender discrimination against women and the girl child. She also works to ensure safe motherhood by reducing maternal mortality and morbidity. Ratni also decided to get basic literacy skills. The people in her village and surrounding areas felt elated to learn that somebody from their locality has been awarded an international recognition. They are impressed that inspite of being a woman and illiterate, she has the interest, the leadership and determination for community development work. Participation and voluntary contributions in her activities have significantly increased. More and more government agencies are extending their cooperation and seeking her cooperation as well.

Laureate 2002 - Sri Lanka - Bandara Menike WEERASEKARA: officially received the WWSF Prize from the Hon. G.M.S. Samaraweera, Governor of the North Central Province who represents the President of Sri Lanka there. More than 1000 people, including leaders from the four main religions in Sri Lanka, high ranking government officials and political leaders, the business community in Anuradhapura and a large number of Bandara Menike’s familiy, attended the event. H.E. the President of Sri Lanka sent a congratulatory message honoring her achievements.

Laureate 2002 – Togo - Apéfa KOUNETSRON: was honoured for her work on 15 October. It was with joy and a general euphoria that the Prizewinner spoke. She acknowledges the support received and especially thanks WWSF for this worthwhile initiative in honor of rural women in the area, and for the opportunity it provides to enlarge her manufacturing unit. She concludes with a call to women to step out of lethargy, change mentalities and follow your creativity, the only way to get out of the present difficult economic situation. After her intervention, participants made comments on the quality of her products, especially her Akoto soap with many therapeutic qualities.

Laureate 2002 – Zimbabwe - Eliza NGWENYA: Eliza used the Prize money to buy seeds for the whole village which have become very expensive and almost absent in shops due to the political situation in her country. The Prize has encouraged her and others in the village to look ahead and be confident in the future.

Laureate 2001- Burkina Faso - Kassena "Femmes Batisseurs": had their work exposed at the Embassy of Burkina Faso in Paris on International Women's Day, 8 March 2002.

Laureate 2000 - Aymara de del tripartito Peru-Bolivia-Chile - Gladys VASQUEZ POMA: came to Geneva in November 2000 to attend the Working Group for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at the United Nations to bring her complaint about the devastating extraction of waters from her highland community. WWSF was happy for the opportunity to award her her prize at a small ceremony held at Mandat International in Geneva. Gladys will be leading a large demonstration in Arica, Chile (June 21-23 2002) to claim her people's water rights.

Laureate 2000 – Mexico - Norma Patricia Saucedo VILLALBA: informed us that in order to celebrate 15 October 2002 and continue to support women, her Association opened a workshop for women which gives informaion on the following themes : The rights of health, self-esteem, environmental education (water shortage), sexual- and manual education. The factory is called "Voice and Freedom for Women".

Laureate 1996 – Inde - M. RANI: visited WWSF in April 2002 and shared the beautiful handicraft work done by 1300 rural women of the SHARE Association of which she has become President. M. Ranni explained what a difference the Prize made in her personal and professional life and how grateful she is to WWSF to have given her this recognition.

Laureate 1996 – Rwanda - Godeliève MUKASARASIi: informed WWSF that her ‘Network of women and development‘ will also start giving awards to deserving rural women in her country on 15 October 2002.


Laureate 2001 - Chad - Robertine DEMBETTE. "It is with joy and great satisfaction that we welcome the award for Robertine Dembette and thank the Jury for having selected Robertine and for the Prize initiatives."

Laureate 2001 - Togo - Honorine POIDI: thanks the Foundation for its gesture of love, good will and encouragement. ".You perform beautiful work and I pray that your financial resources remain a fountain of living water which never dries out so that you can continue to be a benediction for the world's rural women. Thanks to the award which you had given me, we could help a widow pay the school fees of her two son in college for 2001-2002, for another widow to place her deaf and dumb son of16 into specialized school in Lomé, and for an orphan girl to open up a sewing workshop to start her business. All the families are very grateful to you."

Laureate 2001 - India - Kusum JAIN: "The prize is a great pleasure not only for Ms. Kusum Jain but for Gram Bharati Samiti, the organisation as a whole. It is encouraging and inspiring for the volunteers of our organisation engaged in various activities related to improving the life of rural women in the villages of Rajasthan State of India."

Laureate 2001 - India - Vikas Mahila Multipurpose Cooperative Society: "We are very much encouraged by the recognition and appreciation of our struggle for a just society where women are given the requisite respect and opportunity."

Laureate 2001 - India - Prema NARASIMHAN: expressed her heartfelt thanks in being honored by Women's World Summit Foundation for her work towards promoting creativity in rural life. "I am extremely excited to be receiving this award from such a prestigious institution. I love my work and the rewards that it in itself offers, but by being recognized for my work encourages me to work even harder in my pursuit of improving the standard of living for rural women. Being placed in the same category as the other amazing women receiving this award is in itself an inspiration." Prema was one of the two Prize laureates to receive a scholarship to attend the Findhorn Foundation's workshop on Ecofeminism in January 2002.

Laureate 2001 - Kyrgyzstan - Meimanbu TASHIEVA: "It is our hope that her international recognition will act as a catalyst in her work as a teacher and rural activist against poverty, and inspire and motivate others."

Laureate 2001 - Nepal - Mohinee MAHARJAN: "I am very grateful to the International Prize Jury and WWSF for selecting me as an award winner. It is very encouraging and means a lot. It is a prestige for me, my organisation and my community, and encourages me to do more work for in this legal field."

Laureate 2001 - Vietnam - Do Thuy DIEN: "What a wonderful global project to recognize these dear workers for a better world right in their own communities."

Laureate 2001 - Ghana - Joyce VIDA DONKOR: will use the prize money in collaboration with Youth Club for Nature Conservation to acquire bee harvesting equipment and other material and will be exhibited on Oct. 15 WRWD to boost the morale of the women and encourage them to support future initiatives.

Laureate 2001 - Kenya - Selline OTIENO KORIR: is adopting many of the WWSF activities: making use of the peace seals in schools an d villages, arranging for translation of the WWSF newsletter in all the 43 indigenous languages and preparing for the World Day for prevention of Child Abuse. Their indigenous wome network is growing stronger.

Laureate 2001 - India - Rajeswari KARTHIKEYAN: was personally invited by the Chief minister of Tamil Nadu who greeted her at her home presenting her with the Prize money. Government officials from the Department of Agriculture, a DANIDA advisor and the director of All India Radio attended the award function in which 2000 farmwomen participated which was well covered by the press.

Laureate 2001 - India - Ratni BAI KHATIK: was described, at the World Rural Women's Day ceremony, by noted Social activist and Chairperson of Cittorgarh municipality Ms. Anand Sandhu, as the pride of Southeast Rajansthan emphasizing her strong willpower, commitment and dedication. The newspapers and All India Radio covered the event.

Laureate 2001 - India - Helen MANOHARAN: stated that this valuable award, the Prize, encouraged them to commit themselves to work harder to attain more benefits for the welfare and upliftment of thousands of rural women. Helen was among the laureates whose work was exposed at the library of the United Nations this year.


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Laureate 2000 - Ghana - Laurine TOKORY: writes that her prize money (she received) helped purchase sewing machines and designing materials to train young women who dropped out of school to save them from fetish slavery. She will continue to educate communities about the environment.

Laureate 2000 - Nigeria -Ethel NNE EKEKE: says the Prize is pushing her into more action to improve the life of women and children. She uses her Prize money for training of young girls and boys who have dropped out of school.

Laureate 2000 - France - Georgia LAMBERTIN: was elected as a result of receiving the Prize to the Agricultural Chamber of Vaucluse. Her award was published in many French newspapers.

Laureate 2000 - Mali - Aïssata GUINDO: became a Member of the National Federation of Rural Women, was elected Treasurer of the East African Union for Rural Women, and elaborated an action plan for three years.

Laureate 2000 - Uganda - Loyce OGOLLA: managed to secure another project for the whole parish on forest livelihood management, which is to begin this month. We have 5000 coffee seedlings ready for planting this season and its targeting women mostly for poverty alleviation. The government has also accepted to support us in our health clinic project this year. For last year's Environment Day, Mudodo women group was awarded a certificate of merit for effective work done and more groups are getting formed. Lastly this is about children's welfare: there is a very big achievement just within four years of my leadership in Mudodo Primary School. We have 727 pupils with 8 classrooms of permanent structures and sanitation which is girl-child friendly.

Laureate 2000 - Zimbabwe - Patience SITHOLE: donated part of her Prize money towards a sewing machine and materials for women from her community. She is coordinating various income-generating projects women run from their homes.

Laureate 1999 - Armenia - Roza TZAROUKYAN: was invited in the year 2000 to participate in summer school lessons organised by FAO in the UK where she was granted a special award.

Laureate 1999 - Honduras - Isidora GARCIA: with support from the Institute for rural development of Honduras and several others Laureates from Central America (Gladis Cáceres, Paulina Díaz, Lucrecia Flores y Yareli) Isidora organised the Tirad Central American Forum for creativity of rural women (Siguatepeque, Honduras 2-9 September 2000). During the Forum at which also Maria Penaloza (WWSF coordinator of the Prize program) participated, 30 Central American rural women participated in group discussion and workshop on subjects such as self-esteem, the rights of women, domestic violence, biological agriculture, etc. They also included various UN Conventions dealing with women and agricultural workers. The Laureates committed themselves to maintain the network created by the various winners of the Prize in Central America and to organize a Forum at El Salvador.

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Laureate 1999 - Uganda - Petty ANGINA-OMAGOR: says that the Prize has brought her recognition in her district and in her country at large and the cash helped expand the growing of soya bean and training of single mothers in child care. She prays that more rural women from Uganda will be awarded this kind of prize.

Laureate 1999 - Kenya - Naomi JERUTO: was admitted to a course in Women's training at the Mindolo Ecumenical Foundation although she still needs to find the financial resources to attend the course.

Laureate 1999 - India - Suseela DEVI: writes that her organisation, SHEBA, is working hard for the prevention of child abuse and the empowerment of women by conducting social awareness, literacy and health programs.

Laureate 1999 - D.R. Congo - Godé BINDA KINI: continues to be very active in her work with rural women.

Laureate 1999 - Kenya - Dolphine OKECH: informed us of the continuing development of her organisation KEFEADO with the creation of a website ( and the launching of 10 development-focused networks Rural Women's Food Security Cooperative Societies.

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1997 - 1998

Laureate 1998 - Zimbabwe - Virginia MUPANDUKI: became an Ashoka fellow because of her outstanding work in the field of education. She is building up a broad national organisation consisting of over 40 000 previously illiterate women and using its power to eradicate illiteracy, teach development skills and create a political voice for the women.

Laureate 1997 - Pakistan - Farzana PANHWAR: emphasises the need to help women get jobs as teachers and in health centres in rural areas and to provide loans to women to set up small enterprises in rural areas.

Laureate 1997 - Pakistan - The Rural Women Welfare Organisation: implemented a "30 Community School Project" for girls from remote rural areas which culminated in August 2000 in a performance in which the students exhibited their talents and over 1000 rural women participated. They are also working against the "Karo Karo" practice by which 4 to 5 thousand women per year are murdered in impunity on a false charge of illicit relations.

Laureate 1997 - Argentina - Rosario ANDADES DE QUISPE: President of the Warmi Syajsunko organization, (persevering women in the Quechua language) , in Argentine Puna, informs us that she found the necessary funds (145'000 pesos) to put in place a comunal bank offering micro credit for fair trade of camelide fiber. This banking program benefits 1170 Puna citizens.


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Laureate 1996 - India - Tulsi JAIN: is fighting atrocities against women via the Tribal Women Awareness Forum active in 100 villages. A Social Reforms Forum is functioning like a court where decisions are being made more speedily, allowing people to get due justice without having to spend years in courts and police stations.

Laureate 1996 - Costa Rica - Paulina DIAZ NAVAS: informed WWSF that following her receiving the award, she participated in Geneva at the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations in July 2001 as a representative of her organization ACONAMIC (Association Conseil National des femmes Autochtones d'Amérique centrale).

Laureate 1996 - Nicaragua - Lucrecia FLORES: reports that, as a pioneer in organic farming, she continues to work to promote this practice in her country; she also works as a health promoter, organising vaccination campaigns, assisting at births and preparing natural medicines to treat parasites. Although sometimes she gets discouraged, her strength and motivation keep her going.

Laureate 1996 - Rwanda - Godeliève MUKASARASI: translated into Kinyarwanda language the Open Letter to Rural Women 2001which focused on traditional knowledge and was distributed countrywide by the Ministry of Gender and the Promotion of Women (MIGEPROFE). The whole month of October focused on activities related to the promotion of women, conferences, debates on decision-making, education of the girl child, the fight against poverty, the cultivation of medical plants, coffee, among others, the inauguration of credit schemes which was also diffused via the radio and television. The Laureate also received the "Prize Nzambazamariya Veneranda" created by the Women's Network working for rural development (Réseau des Femmes Oeuvrant pour le Développement rural).


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