Greek NGO gets first-ever Vigdis Prize for Women’s Empowerment

Greek NGO gets first-ever Vigdis Prize for Women’s Empowerment

A Greek nongovernmental organization that helps women experiencing poverty, social exclusion and gender-based violence was singled out as the winner of a new prize established by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and the government of Iceland.

The 60,000-euro annual Vigdis Prize for Women’s Empowerment, named after Iceland’s former president Vigdis Finnbogadottir, the first woman in the world to be elected as a head of state, was presented in Strasbourg on Monday to the Thessaloniki-based Irida Women’s Center. 

The Greek NGO was founded during the migration crisis in 2016 with the aim of providing emergency support and creating safe spaces for women and children from over 50 countries. The “true heroes of this journey,” Irida’s head of fundraising and communication, Lydia Siapardani, told the ceremony, are the women the organization serves and supports.

“Your story, courage and resilience are a daily source of inspiration,” she said.

Irida was among 120 nominations from all over the world considered by the six-member selection panel for the prize, chaired by PACE President Theodoros Rousopoulos.

In his comments on the award, Rousopoulos cited a line by Icelandic poet Hulda which appears at the entrance of the Vigdis Finnbogadottir Museum in Reykjavik: “Mother Grey Goose, lend me wings, so that I may fly, south across the sea.”

“I see this as an exhortation for young women to explore the world and make an impact on it, precisely as Vigdis did all her life,” he said.

“I am honored as an Icelander, and as a global citizen, to see this award as a recognition of a job well done, and an encouragement to others to follow in the footsteps of our beloved Vigdis Finnbogadottir,” sais Iceland’s President Guoni Thorlacius Jahannesson.

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