Former President Bill Clinton on Saturday awarded Ruchira Gupta, President, Apne Aap Women Worldwide, the Third Annual Clinton Global Citizen Award for her work against human trafficking.
The award recognizes remarkable individuals for their leadership in improving the lives of people around the globe. The awards ceremony took place on September 24, 2009 in New York during the Fifth Annual Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI). CGI's Annual Meeting convenes leaders from across sectors of society, giving them a forum to develop and then implement workable solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges.
"Gupta's heroic efforts to assist and empower women make her a global leader," President Clinton said. "Her talents as a journalist and activist have led her to make a lasting change in the social and governmental arenas. Her determination, creativity and strong leadership serve as an inspiration to all of us."
President Clinton stated: "With the Global Citizen Awards, we highlight individuals who have demonstrated exceptional service to humanity." He said that each one of this year's winners is a model of service. "Their innovation, dedication and determination have changed lives, and their actions serve as models for what each of us can do to make a difference in the world."
In her acceptance speech, Gupta said: "I receive this award on behalf of the victims and survivors of human trafficking who are members of my organization, Apne Aap Women Worldwide in India. I also receive this award on behalf of people who want a world in which it is unacceptable to buy or sell another human being and to imagine an economy in which one is not forced to sell oneself." Hollywood actress, Demi Moore who presented the award to Gupta, hailed her for her commitment to combating human trafficking.
Apne Aap Women Worldwide works to end sex trafficking in Bihar, Maharashtra, Delhi and West Bengal. It has established 67 self help groups to create sustainable livelihood options for women in prostitution and has put 854 children in schools. It is campaigning to change the Indian anti-trafficking law, Immoral Traffic Prevention Act (ITPA) to severely punish buyers and traffickers.
The others to be awarded the 2009 Clinton Global Citizen Award at the same ceremony, are: President Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda; Asha Hagi Elmi Amin, Chairperson, Save Somali Women and Children; Peter Bakker, Chief Executive Officer, TNT; Dr. Rola Dashti, Member of Parliament, State of Kuwait, and Quincy Jones, creative artist and head of Quincy Jones Foundation .
Award winners were nominated by a collection of global leaders and selected for their visionary leadership, demonstrated impact, and sustainable and scalable work in solving pressing global challenges. Honorees were chosen from government, civil society, the private sector, and the philanthropic community. Gupta was nominated by Peter and Jennifer Buffet of Novo Foundation.
The statement described Gupta, who received the award for 'Leadership in Civil Society', as "a journalist, activist, and policymaker who has worked relentlessly for the past 24 years to end human trafficking. She is best known for her work with Apne Aap Women Worldwide, a community-based initiative started by women in prostitution in the Khetwadi/Kamatipura red light area of Mumbai in 1998. Gupta founded the organization along with 22 women who were featured in her sex-trafficking documentary, The Selling of Innocents, which won an Emmy Award in 1997. Apne Aap ("self-help" in Hindi) combats trafficking by building up the capacity of girls and women through small "self-help" social and economic cooperatives. Through these cooperatives, the organization has provided access to education, income-generation training and legal protection. Apne Aap now protects women and girls through 67 such cooperatives and has a goal to reach 200 cooperatives (3,000 girls and women) in one year's time. In addition to her work with Apne Aap, Gupta has provided policy support to the Government of India, the United Nations and USAID. Through commitment and perseverance, Gupta has shown that it is possible to bring hope and change even in some of the world's most marginalized communities."
The 2009 Clinton Global Citizen Awards ceremony was hosted by Ben Stiller, and included musical performances by Alicia Keys, co-founder of Keep A Child Alive, and Juanes, founder of the Mi Sangre Foundation. Other program participants included General Wesley Clark, former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO; Lisa Ling, Oprah correspondent and Nightline contributor; Usher Raymond IV, founder and chairman of Usher's New Look; and actress Demi Moore, co-founder of the Demi and Ashton Foundation.
The Clinton Global Citizen Awards were launched in 2007. The 2007 winners were Andre Agassi, founder of the Andre Agassi Foundation; Fazle Hassan Abed, founder of the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee; Cisco CEO John Chambers; and Vicky Colbert, founder of the Escuela Nueva Foundation. In 2008, the winners were Jennifer and Peter Buffett, co-chairs of the NoVo Foundation; Xiaoyi (Sheri) Liao, founder of the Global Village of Beijing; Julio Frenk, dean of the Harvard School of Public Health; and Nevill Isdell, then-chairman of the Coca-Cola Company.