Pamela Adie is nominated for the first Mary Chirwa Award for Courageous Leadership

Pamela Adie is nominated for the first Mary Chirwa Award for Courageous Leadership

Nigeria’s Gender and LGBTQIA+ activist and documentarist, Pamela Adie, is among the ten shortlisted nominees to receive the very first Mary Chirwa Award for Courageous Leadership, as announced by the Nomination Committee. As the Executive Director of the Equality Hub, a non-profit organisation that uses visual storytelling to advance the rights of Lesbian, Bisexual, and Queer women in Nigeria, she produced and directed Nigeria’s first documentary about Queer people, called Under the Rainbow. As the sole Nigerian on the list, Pamela is nominated for the Mary Chirwa Award alongside an academic, an attorney, journalists, and human rights activists from Africa, a Greek priest and humanitarian, a French journalist, and a Dutch green activist. You can find the full list of nominees here.

The Award was initiated in 2018 by the Mary Chirwa Award Foundation and Nudge, a social enterprise based in Amsterdam that strives to create a sustainable society. The purpose of the Award is to recognise and highlight individuals who have exhibited courage and bravery in their leadership, in order to achieve one or more Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The very first Award will be handed out for the first time on 22 October 2019, at the Peace Palace and International Court of Justice, in The Hague.

The nomination committee consists of George Papandreou (former Prime Minister of Greece), H.R.H. Prince Carlos de Bourbon de Parma (Head of the House of Bourbon-Parma, member of the Dutch Royal Family), Jeff Furman (former Chair of the Board at Ben&Jerry’s), Frans Geraedts (Director at Governance and Integrity Nederland), and Mary Chirwa (Director General of the Financial Intelligence (FIC) Center in Zambia), in honour of whom the Award was created. Mary Chirwa risks her life to fight financial corruption in her country, Zambia.

When asked about the dangers of being a Queer person in Nigeria, and why she did Under the Rainbow, Adie said, “I believe in the need for representation. And, I’m fuelled by people’s stories [about coming home to themselves] that remind me about the power and importance of representation. I believe in love. I believe in kindness. I believe in compassion. And, if we’re going to help people unlearn and look at the world differently in ways that will change the human experience as well as change hearts and minds then it needs to be guided by love, kindness and compassion.”

“Coming out as a lesbian in Nigeria definitely qualifies as an immensely brave act,” says Jan van Betten, Nudge Founder and Member of the Board of the Mary Chirwa Award Foundation. “Pamela is not just fighting to defend her own existence in the world, in a country that doesn’t accept LGBTQIA+ people, she is first and foremost fighting for others. She’s fighting so that nobody else will have to go through the discrimination and hardships that she is. In spite of her potential prosecution from the Nigerian government, Pamela is laying the groundwork, so that others can stop feeling different and marginalised, but start feeling safe and respected instead. We hope that her nomination will support her courageous work and we are proud to have her in our list of nominees.”

The Mary Chirwa Award Foundation is a non-profit organisation that was founded in 2018 and is based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The purpose of the Foundation is to recognise and award leaders that have shown courage and fearlessness in their decision making, and are fighting for a better future, in spite of adversities. The Foundation is interested in honouring the unsung heroes of our time, who want to create a sustainable society. The very first Mary Chirwa Award for Courageous Leadership will be granted at the Peace Palace in The Hague, on 22 October 2019.

“We are delighted with the collaboration between the Mary Chirwa Award Foundation and Nudge,” Jan van Betten remarks. “We are really looking forward to offering this wonderful Award on the stage of the Peace Palace. We would like to take this opportunity to inspire and encourage both our young leaders and the CEOs of large companies alike.”

Pamela Adie’s Under The Rainbow tells the story of her self discovery, coming out, and her alienation by her family. Nigeria has very strict anti-LGBTQIA+ laws that punish Queer people for up to fourteen years, adding an extra 10 if they are also advocates.

Pamela is currently in court with the Federal Government for their refusal to acknowledge and register her organisation, for being affiliated with the fundamental human rights of Queer women in Nigeria. Previously, she was the Senior Campaigns Manager for All Out, where she led and managed over 700 online and offline global campaigns to fight for human rights and social justice all over the world. She is also one of the 200 young Africans selected as Leaders in 2018 by The Obama Foundation.

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