This year’s Zayed Award for Human Fraternity has been presented to Shamsa Abubakar Fadhil, a Kenyan community organiser and activist, and the Community of Sant’Egidio, a Catholic lay group.
By Joseph Tulloch
The Zayed Award for Human Fraternity, now in its fourth year, was awarded by a panel of judges including politicians, Nobel Peace Laureates, and Catholic and Muslim religious leaders.
Shamsa Abubakar Fadhil, known as “Mama Shamsa”, is a Kenyan community mobiliser and peace-builder. She has run campaigns in Kenya and elsewhere in Africa to raise awareness of violence against women, and worked for the empowerment of women and young people.
A statement released on Tuesday by the Zayed Award committee said that she had been recognised “for nurturing youth in Kenya and saving young people from lives of violence, crime, and extremism, by providing them with counselling, care, and training.”
The Community of Sant’Egidio, meanwhile, is a lay Catholic association dedicated to humanitarian work.
The organisers said it was being recognised for its “contribution to successful peace negotiations and conflict resolution through religious diplomacy and intercultural dialogue”, the community services it provides in different parts of the world, and its “Humanitarian Corridors” initiative, which brings refugees from war-torn countries to Europe.
The Zayed Award for Human Fraternity has been awarded annually for the last four years in recognition of winners’ “contributions to building a more peaceful and compassionate world through advancing the values of human fraternity and setting an inspiring example of promoting peaceful coexistence.” It comes with one million dollars in prize-money.
The award was launched in 2019,to commemorate the historic meeting between Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed Al-Tayyeb, during which they co-signed the Document on Human Fraternity.
At a press conference at Vatican News’ headquarters earlier this month, Judge Abdelsalam, Secretary General of the Zayed prize, said that the award was proof that “the Pope and the Grand Imam have managed to transform from the phase of looking for inter-religious dialogue to the actualisation of human and inter-faith dialogue between peoples on the ground.”
One of the judges this year was Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Pro-Prefect of the Dicastery for Evangelization.
In reference to this year’s nominees, he said that “instead of feeling I am part of those judging them, I feel the privilege of having seen their goodness … at one point I felt I was the one being judged!”
Judge Abdelsalam added that “By granting the Zayed Award for Human Fraternity to the Community of Sant’Egidio and Mama Shamsa, we hope to amplify their efforts and inspire other institutions and individuals around the world to play an active role in promoting the values of human fraternity.”
Other members of the judging committee – including United Nations Under-Secretary-General Miguel Àngel Moratinos, former Vice-President of Costa Rica Dr. Epsy Campbell Barr, and Nobel Peace Laureates Dr. Ouided Bouchamaoui and Kailash Satyarthi – also expressed their appreciation for this year’s winners.