Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan was recognised with the ‘Global Trailblazer’ award in Washington DC on 8 March at the 16th annual Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards. The awards honour female leaders from around the world in the areas of human rights, economic empowerment and political development and are given by the Vital Voices Global Partnership in recognition of international leaders contributions to positive change on both the local and global levels.
In her acceptance speech Queen Rania spoke of the plight of women and young girls in the Middle East who face conflict and instability on a daily basis and the pivotal role education plays to provide them with ‘the knowledge they need to excel’.
She reiterated the importance of communication and collaboration between East and West and urged the audience to view Arab and Muslim women and girls in a different light – recognising their potential and promise and seeing them as ‘purveyors of tangible change’ – in order to help reshape their future.
She said: ‘One of the ways each of you can help is by challenging preconceptions. Resist the easy stereotypes attached to Arab women: pitied as helpless and submissive on the one hand, labelled as threats on the other…For me, as a woman, an Arab, and a Muslim, I take this issue personally.’
Queen Rania also reiterated comments made previously by her husband, His Majesty King Abdullah, condemning extremists who commit crimes in the name of Islam and called their ideology ‘a warped perverted image that violates everything it stands for.’ She continued: ‘If we let the terrorists turn the West against Islam, we are waging their battle for them.’
In closing, Queen Rania asked that the audience ‘celebrate the power of women to connect across lines that divide’ in order to ‘cultivate common ground’ on which to build progress and change.
The Global Trailblazer Award was first presented in 2006 and previous recipients have included former US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafazi and philanthropist Melina Gates.
The Vital Voices Global Partnership is a non-governmental organisation devoted to combatting human trafficking and violence and empowering aspiring women leaders to achieve their full potential.