Shared Interest, a leading New York-based non-profit social investment fund, honored the incoming Amnesty International Secretary General Kumi Naidoo with the Champion Award for People and Planet and Congresswoman Barbara Lee, member of the U.S House of Representatives and Democratic Representative to the United Nations, with the Advocate for Justice Award during a star-studded fundraising benefit held at New York City’s Edison Ballroom on Tuesday, March 20th.
The benefit was attended by New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio, Ambassadors from several African nations including South Africa, Malawi, and Mozambique, human rights leaders, top diplomats and key US policymakers and influencers, all celebrating the honorees and the work of Shared Interest.
International award-winning South African entrepreneur and talk show host Felicia Mabuza-Suttle served as the host, and the event featured a VIP cocktail reception followed by dinner, dancing and entertainment provided by Malawian artist MASAUKO.
Born in South Africa, Kumi Naidoo is a renowned global activist and civil society leader who, in July 2018, will become the Secretary General of Amnesty International. Prior to this prestigious appointment, he was the Executive Director of Greenpeace International, Chair of the Global Call for Climate Action, Founding Chair of the Global Call to Action against Poverty and Secretary General and CEO of CIVICUS, the World Alliance for Citizen Participation. Continuing his dedication to South Africa, Kumi currently chairs Africans Rising for Justice, Peace and Dignity; the Campaign for a Just Energy Future; and the Global Climate Finance Campaign.
“The fate of people and planet cannot be separated. I am pleased to accept this award from Shared Interest, which unlocks resources that Southern Africa’s people require to protect their economic and environmental rights. Today, the region’s most vulnerable communities (and some of its largest cities) depend on making these rights a reality for all.” said Kumi Naidoo incoming Amnesty International Secretary-General.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee represents California’s 13th Congressional District and continues to serve as a Congressional Representative to the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly. Lee has been a vocal advocate in the U.S. Congress on issues such as reproductive health and rights, gender equality, food security and global peace and security. Lee is a former Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. She currently serves as Vice Chair of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, a senior Democratic Whip and a co-chair of the Sudan and South Sudan Caucus, among other leadership roles.
“My commitment to women’s empowerment both in the US and Africa has been at the very core of my work in Congress, and I am delighted to be honored by Shared Interest with this award,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “We have come a long way in valuing the contributions that women make to society at large, but there is still much more work to be done to ensure young women and girls can thrive and succeed. I remain dedicated to the cause of gender equality, which will help not just women, but everyone on the planet.”
Leveraging a 24-year track record of transformation and impactful economic empowerment in communities across Southern Africa, Shared Interest has expanded its focus to provide resources to help rural communities face the challenges of climate change across the region. Record years of extreme weather in 2014, 2015 and 2016 have exacerbated the region’s most severe environmental issues, including drought, floods, and fires. In South Africa, the poor 2015-2016 rainy season led to 2015 having the lowest annual total rainfall on record since records began 114 years ago. Shared Interest is committed to advancing innovative tools to reduce the risk and impact of these climatic changes and placing them in the hands of the people most affected – especially low-income rural women.
This year’s sponsors were South African Airways, Walden Asset Management, PepsiCo, Inc. and Trillium Asset Management.