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Activists win "Alternative Nobel" for work on sexual violence, climate crisis

29.09.2021

Three people and an organization have won the Right Livelihood Award, often known as the "Alternative Nobel," for their work on empowering vulnerable communities across a broad range of areas.

Three activists and an organization were presented with the Right Livelihood Award by the Swedish Right Livelihood Foundation on Wednesday.

Often known as the "Alternative Nobel," the awards were granted to four people deemed to have worked on empowered communities, making the world a better place to live.

Climate Activist Greta Thunberg was among those who won the award in 2019. The winners this year are people who've worked on issues of sexual violence, indigenous rights, and have helped vulnerable communities with the means to stand up against powerful corporate interests.

Ole von Uexkull, head of the Right Livelihood, said that the four laureates "are courageous mobilizers who show what people's movements can achieve."

Who won this year?

Marthe Wandou, a gender and peace activist, won for her work on preventing sexual violence against girls since the 1990s in the Lake Chad area of Cameroon. She has also taken care of the victims.

Russian environmental campaigner, Vladimir Slivyaj, won for igniting a grassroots opposition to coal and nuclear industries in the country. He is the co-founder of Ecodefense, an organization that works on environmental issues in the country.

05:28 mins.
DW News | 29.09.2021

Right Livelihood winner Marthe Wandou speaks with DW

Indigenous rights campaigner, Freda Hudson of the Wet'suwet'ten people in Canada, received her award for her "fearless dedication to reclaiming her people's culture and defending their land against disastrous pipeline projects."

02:17 mins.
DW News | 29.09.2021

Right Livelihood Award winner Freda Huson speaks to DW

Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment, LIFE, an organization based in India, won for its work on equipping vulnerable communities with necessary legal tools to stand up against powerful corporate interests.

One of LIFE's co-founders, Ritwick Dutta, told DW on Wednesday about what motivated him to start the organization. Dutta said he wanted to "support grassroots communities, movements and evicted citizens who are impacted because of large displacement and impact on the environment."

"We found that there was virtually no institution that was able to provide them professional legal support to take up their issues before the court," he added.   

The winners will each receive prize money of $115,520 (1 million kronor, € 99,028). They will be honored at a virtual ceremony on December 1.

Other laureates in recent years include US civil rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson and imprisoned Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh.

rm, wd/rc (AP, DPA)