LONDON: A 20-year-old, winner of the Arab Woman of the Year award, hailed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for his advocacy of women’s rights.
Yemeni human rights activist Nada Al-Ahdal, who escaped two different child marriages at the age of 10, dedicated her social awareness award to the crown prince whom she praised for helping to make big changes in a short time.
“As influencers, we’ve been working on raising awareness for years, and he did it in one decision. It’s just one decision, he saved millions of lives in Saudi Arabia, and that’s what he did. is what we really need,” Al-Ahdal told Arab News.
She said after fleeing her family aged 11, she was lucky that a video she posted on social media went viral and prompted the Yemeni government to protect her.
“You don’t need to be on the big screen to influence people or change their minds. Just the phone now, the impact is no longer local, it’s international. So a video saved my life, and we need to talk about the victims in our countries, the violations, child marriage and all the things women are suffering from.
“Believe me, we will find soldiers who can protect women and help us build a better generation,” she added.
Al-Ahdal noted that there are no laws in Yemen protecting girls from child marriage, but after her case spread online, the Yemeni government introduced legislation to protect girls from child marriage. under 18 years old.
She pointed out that the exposure of her ordeal on social media platforms has helped to raise awareness of the issue and she urged Arab women to reveal their experiences as well.
“Even though there is a gender gap in the Arab world, we need to show that as women we can do it, we can still be leaders, and can change our society and empower ourselves through ourselves,” she said.
This year’s awards ceremony, held at the Carlton Tower Jumeirah hotel in London, was titled ‘Unlock Her Future’, a new initiative launched by event organizer London Arabia.
Omar Bdour, Managing Director of London Arabia, said: “We believe that by unlocking the future of young girls in the Arab world, we can unlock the future of every man and woman in the Arab world. We cannot think of a better future if young girls do not find their way.
He added that the organization would work with institutions, universities, individuals, businesses and parents to unlock the future, with Egyptian actress Yasmine Sabri helping to raise awareness as an ambassador for the campaign.
This year’s awards, which celebrate the achievements of Arab women around the world, were unique because of the diversity of winners, Bdour said.
Among those recognized for their work were Egyptian Magi Gobran in community service, Qatari Sheikha Alanoud Al-Thani in financial services, Omani Areej Mohsin Darwish in business, Bahrain’s Sheikha Rana Al-Khalifa in leadership social, Jordanian Caroline Faraj in the media, Emirati Sheikha Fatima bint Hazza Al-Nahyan in culture, Moroccan Leila Benali in leadership in sustainable development and Kuwaiti Fatemah Al-Zelzela in the achievements of young people in environmental impact.
Al-Zelzela said: “An international award like this means that we will take our messages to other parts of the world, and we need international voices to raise awareness and collaborate on the environmental impacts that the whole world is facing. .
“So this is something that could be useful for Kuwaiti citizens to overcome the challenges we face in recycling and waste management.”
The 25-year-old environmentalist founded EcoStar, an initiative that recycles waste in exchange for trees and plants, and in 2020 she was named Young Champion of the Earth by the United Nations Environment Programme.
Kuwaiti Ambassador to the UK and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps in London, Khaled Al-Duwaisan, said the awards show how Arab women have achieved their goals by competing in various fields.
“Fatemah did an amazing job as a UN representative and here when she won the women’s award. I am very proud of her and we are proud as Kuwaitis of her achievement,” he added.