Meet the winners of the 2017 Global Goals Awards

The Global Goals Awards highlight the role girls play in changing their lives and in making progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This year, the Awards honoured outstanding activists or campaign groups who have demonstrated a positive impact in people’s lives and who inspire others to accelerate progress towards the SDGs. Winners were chosen from finalists in each of the categories, and voted in by the SDG Advocates and Melinda Gates. The awards were announced during the UN General Assembly at a Global Goals Awards dinner on September 19th in New York.

Meet the 2017 winners!

2017 Global Goals Awards winners (L-R): Prefect of Yorosso Bernard Coulibaly, blogger Marieme Jamme, founder of Make Love Not Scars Ria Sharma, activist Laura Ulloa and founder of Youth Against Barriers Felix Manyogate.


The honouree of the Innovation Award is an exceptional leader with an extraordinary story about how her/his efforts in business are contributing to economic growth while also having positive social impact.

Winner: Marieme Jamme, 42

Country: Senegal / United Kingdom

Background: Marieme grew up in Senegal and endured a difficult childhood that included being trafficked. She emerged from this to teach herself how to read and write at age 16. Today, she channels this experience to inspire youth, especially young girls through SpotOne Global Solutions, where as Chief Executive she encourages global investment in African IT infrastructure. She’s also the founder of the iamthecode movement, an effort to teach 1 million girls and women to code by 2030, and which addresses Sustainable Development Goals 4, 5, 8 and 9.

Reason for nomination: In Africa, young girls growing up in slums are often forgotten and don’t have access to basic education, which keeps them from developing to their full potential. By breaking down these barriers and advancing girls in the technology industry through inclusion, Marieme is helping to create the next generation of digital leaders.


The honouree of this award is an inspirational leader and/or group with an incredible story whose efforts in tackling chronic malnutrition issues affecting children and mothers are changing lives in her/his community, or country. Accelerating progress on SDG 2 (Zero Hunger) and 3 (Good Health and Well-Being) relies on working in the hardest to reach communities to provide both lifesaving assistance and investments that contribute to a more healthy, peaceful and prosperous future.

Winner: Bernard Coulibaly, 45

Country: Mali

Background: Bernard is the Deputy Prefect of Yorosso in the south of Mali who has focused his work on reducing child malnutrition rates in his community. This area was once known as critical in terms of malnutrition, but thanks to his dedication and commitment, severe acute malnutrition rates were reduced from 0.9 per cent to 0.4 per cent from 2014 to 2016 and stunting levels by nearly half in only two years (from 27.8 per cent in 2014 to 15.4 per cent in 2016). His strong leadership and community ownership have translated into real results, making him a wonderful example of how political leaders can make a tangible difference for their people.

Reason for nomination: Bernard’s dedication and leadership have contributed to improving children’s well-being in Yorosso, but he has also brought together the whole community, ensuring continuity and ownership.


This award recognizes the achievements of a political leader, healthcare worker, or activist, who is advancing the Global Goals by prioritizing the most vulnerable children and families. S/he is an inspirational leader or politician with an incredible story and who is making a catalytic difference.

Winner: Felix Manyogote, 26

Country: Tanzania

Background: Felix is a social entrepreneur and medical student dedicating his life to help others, especially those in vulnerable communities. After his Aunt died in childbirth due to prolonged labor and excessive bleeding, he focused his work on reducing maternal and child mortality rates in rural areas of Tanzania. Through his project MAMA AFYA (MAMA Delivery KIT) he provides free maternal and newborn health services, distributes free clean delivery and newborn kits and develops effective lines of distribution so that women are connected no matter where they live.

Reason for nomination: Felix’s charisma, leadership and reliability have impacted the lives of more than 15,000 people. His project MAMA AFYA has managed to distribute 1,200 birth kits, saving the lives of more than 4,000 mothers and newborns. Endorsed by the government of Tanzania as a brand innovator for improving lives of vulnerable communities, Felix has also been working to tackle prevalent issues among women such as female genital mutilation, early marriages and promotion of girls’ education.


This award goes to a young leader, at grassroots or national level, with an extraordinary story about how her/his efforts are contributing to peace or conflict resolution. In many regions, armed conflict and terrorism continue to afflict vulnerable communities and cause severe ethnic, socioeconomic and political tensions.

Winner: Laura Ulloa, 27

Country: Colombia

Background: Laura Ulloa was just 11 years old when she was kidnapped and held captive by FARC for seven months. Her ordeal started in 1999 when she and her family were victims of one of the biggest mass kidnappings in Colombia. While she and her family were able to escape, others were not so fortunate. Two years later, members of the FARC-EP hijacked her school bus and took her as the sole hostage. After living through this experience, Laura has dedicated her life to helping former guerrillas get reintegrated into society. Through her work with the Colombian Agency for Reintegration, for the Security Council of the United Nations and as coordinator for Social Projects at the Corona Foundation in Colombia, Laura is changing lives.

Reason for nomination: Laura’s efforts are remarkable. Even after being a victim of kidnapping, she has dedicated her life to help demobilized FARC guerrillas (her captors) re-enter society. Not many people in Colombia support that work, but for Laura this is a way of contributing to bringing peace to her country.


This award recognizes an individual who has made extraordinary efforts to lead a campaign, group or movement that has served to protect and better the lives of women and girls in a region, country or globally. This individual will have proven entrepreneurial credentials by creating a sustainable organization with the infrastructure to expand and evolve. This individual has also garnered significant support and backing to maintain these efforts and the growth of the organization or campaign.

Winner: Ria Sharma, 24

Country: India

Background: As a fashion student at Leeds College of Arts in the United Kingdom, Ria returned to India in the third year of her graduate programme to make a documentary on acid attack survivors. In the process of creating the documentary, she met several survivors and their stories touched her and inspired her to help.

She founded Make Love Not Scars (MLNS) which is an organization that actively supports survivors of acid attacks physically and mentally, and campaigns to raise awareness on the issue. Acid attacks against women especially have risen in recent years in India. They are often committed by men who wish to seek ‘revenge’ against women who refuse their advances, or against wives who do not bring enough dowry.

Reason for nomination: Ria’s efforts are changing the lives of many women who have survived acid attacks. MLNS has ensured that survivors receive free treatment under the Supreme Court order for the welfare of acid victims passed in April 2015. The organization also receives government compensation and legal aid to source lawyers and fund the legal battles of many survivors, and on March 7, it launched the first-ever rehabilitation center of its kind in India to extend services to survivors of acid attacks.


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