Women Challenging Norms to Power Economies Winners Celebration


Ashoka, the Open Society Foundation and UN Women will host a very special event to celebrate the winners of our Challenging Norms, Powering Economies: Women and Non-Traditional Partners in Africa and the Middle East challenge at the UN Women offices on December 6th.

Women and girls in Africa and the Middle East, as they do worldwide, continue to face negative cultural and social norms that block them from full economic and social participation. These have serious consequences for women, which prevent them from actively participating in paid employment and entrepreneurship, including discrimination in hiring; sexual harassment and physical violence at home, work, and in public spaces; restrictions on mobility; lack of rights to control income and own property; and unequal share of unpaid care and domestic work.

In early 2018, we began a process to find innovative and promising women and women’s organizations working to challenge pervasive gender norms and barriers. In May, through a nominated process, we identified 12 women who were uniquely challenging these pervasive norms in their countries. Each received $24,500 and a trip to Johannesburg, South Africa for a collaborative exchange and was then invited to submit a refined proposal. Four final prizes of $125,000 have now been awarded, bringing to nearly $800,000 the total amount of prize money invested in this field. 

The four winners, who will travel to New York City from Ghana, Kenya and South Africa, will discuss key learnings from the initiative and share their experiences in challenging gender norms.


Welcoming remarks, UN Women
Kavita Ramdas, Director, Women’s Rights Program, Open Society Foundations

The winners

Esenam Nyador, Founder, Miss Taxi Ghana
Myrtle Witbooi, President, SADSAWU (South Africa Domestic Service and Allied Workers Union)
Naomi Mwaura, Founder, Flone Initiative
Regina Honu, Founder, Soronko Solutions

The program will be followed by a Reception.



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