Community-based groups working for prisoners’ rights in Burkina Faso and treatment services for drug users in Nepal are among the 25 winners announced by the United Nations today for the 2010 Red Ribbon Award for outstanding local leadership and action in responding to AIDS.
“Grassroots and community-based organizations are at the heart of the global response to AIDS,” said Jan Beagle, who serves as Deputy Executive Director for Management and External Relations at the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
“UNAIDS is proud to celebrate and honour these groups who have mobilized themselves to meet the needs of the most vulnerable in their communities with energy, passion, and compassion. The red ribbon award winners give a resounding voice to the voiceless.”
There were 720 nominations from over 100 countries for the Red Ribbon Award, which is named after the global symbol in the movement to address AIDS and is given by the UNAIDS family every two years.
The 25 winners, representing 17 countries, were selected by a group of civil society experts in the community response to HIV for having demonstrated the most remarkable efforts in terms of innovation, impact, sustainability, strategic partnerships, gender sensitivity and social inclusion.
“Communities really hold the key to finding solutions to their own problems," said Dr. Helene Gayle, President and Chief Executive Officer of the non-governmental organization CARE, and a member of this year’s selection committee.
“So while those of us with a lot of outside expertise may know the theories, community organizations are best suited to reach those most in need when it comes to applying them.”
The winners, each of whom will receive a cash award and international recognition for their efforts, are invited to participate in the XVIII International AIDS Conference to be held in Vienna from 18 to 23 July.
They will be guests of honour at a formal awards ceremony there and will host a forum for dialogue and exchange between policy makers and community representatives.
Jeffrey O’Malley, Director of the HIV/AIDS Practice at the UN Development Programme (UNDP), noted that these organizations clearly demonstrate that effective responses to the epidemic require the full participation of front-line, community-based groups.
“Community groups recognize that AIDS is one of many issues that are tied together,” he said. “They understand that AIDS requires an exceptional response but they also understand that you need to link AIDS to broader issues of health, development and justice to be effective.”