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Turkish first lady awarded in US for humanitarian efforts

Monday September 19, 2022

USCMO Secretary General Osama Jammal hands the "Outstanding Humanitarian Award" to first lady Emine Erdoğan, in New York, U.S., Sept. 18, 2022. (AA Photo)

First lady Emine Erdoğan was among the recipients of the "Outstanding Humanitarian Award" in the United States. Erdoğan received the award in a ceremony on Sunday in New York from a leading Muslim coalition for her humanitarian efforts.

The U.S. Council for Muslim Organizations (USCMO), a coalition of national, regional and local Muslim groups, honored the first lady along with five other Muslim women who were given the Outstanding Achievement Award for their work in science, the empowerment of women's role in society, journalism and the COVID-19 response.

"I am happy to be with you on the occasion of this very meaningful award ceremony. I accept this award on behalf of my country, which is the conscience of the world," said Erdoğan in her remarks at the ceremony. "Our religion tells us that the best competition among people is to compete in good deeds. In this sense, our record is full of examples of a charity race that astonishes people," she said.

Erdoğan recalled that Türkiye continued to be the most generous nation according to the Global Humanitarian Assistance Report 2022, saying "we have worked to be the first ones" to reach locations to aid those in need regardless of their religion, language or race. She said Türkiye is continuing its humanitarian aid not only via the bilateral level with nations but also through the United Nations and disbursed $7.7 billion in aid to 122 countries including Syria, Somalia and Palestine in 2021. Türkiye is also working to meet the medical needs of those in need in "fragile" areas, said Erdoğan, citing hospitals built in Sudan, Somalia and Bangladesh.

"Türkiye's humanitarian aid experience is much more than a foreign policy," she said.

Erdoğan helped national projects encourage girls' and women's education, launched health care projects for children, women and refugees, and initiated the Zero Waste Project in 2017 to highlight and combat climate change and pollution.

The first lady said the number of refugees in the world now exceeds 100 million with the Ukraine war, which the report marks as a "dramatic milestone." "As you know, our lands throughout history have been a safe haven for people fleeing war and persecution. We have opened the doors of this shelter to our Ukrainian brothers and sisters as well," she added.

The first lady also traveled to Myanmar in 2012 and visited the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh in 2017 despite the challenging situation back then. Erdoğan has also been in support of women's empowerment in Africa. She visited more than 20 African nations between 2014-2020 including Algeria, Ethiopia, Somalia and Tanzania. The first lady believes that if women become stronger, then families and children will too.

Other recipients include Aisha al-Adawiya, the founder of Women in Islam, Inc., an organization of Muslim women that focuses on human rights and social justice, who was awarded for her activism in human rights and social justice. She received her award from Erdoğan. Ayesha Mustafaa, who has served as editor of the Muslim Journal weekly newspaper since January 1989, was awarded for enhancing the role of women in society. Dr. Uzma Syed, who is chair of the COVID-19 Task Force at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in New York, received the award for her COVID-19 pandemic response. Tahani Amer, the program executive for the Earth Science Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA, was awarded for her contribution to science. Tahera Rahman, a Muslim woman journalist, was awarded for inspiring young Muslims to pursue journalism.


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