Gwendoline Christie and Laura Mvula to lead celebration of refugee and migrant women at Southbank Centre’s WOW – Women of the World festival

The 2018 Women on the Move Awards, presented by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and Migrants Organise, will on March 9 recognise exceptional refugees, migrants and those working on their behalf for their outstanding work in empowering women.

Hosted by the BBC journalist Samira Ahmed, the awards will be presented by the actor Gwendoline Christine (Star Wars, Game of Thrones), and Southbank Centre Artistic Director and founder of WOW – Women of the World Jude Kelly CBE. Acclaimed British singer- songwriter Laura Mvula will perform at the ceremony as part of WOW – Women of the World at London’s Southbank Centre.

Ms. Christie said: “I so admire the courage of these women to go out and fight for what they know is right. The power of women when they work together to affect change is truly astounding.”

Ms. Mvula said: “I am delighted to perform at the Women on the Move Awards and to help celebrate refugee women. Their remarkable strength and determination are an inspiration to us all.”

The Young Woman of the Year will be awarded to Shrouk El-Attar, a young Egyptian refugee who is a tireless campaigner for the right to higher education for asylum-seekers and on LGBTI+ issues. Ms. El-Attar said: “I’m involved in a lot of things that take a lot of energy where not much happens in the end…but you can win and it’s so good to see your work paying off.”

The main award will this year recognise Florence Kahuro and Veeca Smith, who have championed the rights of vulnerable families living in asylum accommodation in Halifax. Through their organisation, Sisters United, they are fighting to improve housing conditions and help refugees settle into their new lives. They take people to hospital, register their children for school meals, organise toy collections and help find school uniforms for families who can’t afford them. Each week, they help 50 women of 17 nationalities (including British). Ms. Kahuro said: “We want to show women that there is more to life than just giving up… If you believe in humanity, you go out there and fight, you don’t sit back and wait.”

The Champion Award will be given to Jem Stein, founder of the Bike Project in South London, which since 2013 has been taking second-hand bikes, fixing them up and donating them to more than 3,000 refugees and asylum-seekers. The Sue Lloyd-Roberts Media Award goes to Manveen Rana for her BBC Radio 4 series following a Syrian refugee family over the course of their journey to Europe.

UNHCR Representative Gonzalo Vargas Llosa said: “The bravery of these asylum-seeking and refugee women is truly humbling. In spite of everything they’ve been through, they are reaching out to others in need and giving back to the communities that have welcome them.”

Migrants Organise Chief Executive Zrinka Bralo said: “It’s heart-warming to see how our awards ceremony has turned into such a powerful celebration of the contribution that migrant and refugee women make. Our past winners continue to inspire: working for the BBC, running their own support groups, writing books and working for the Mayor’s office.”


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