World Citizenship Award

The World Citizenship Award is awarded to people outside the Movement who have contributed to a better world in at least one of the following areas - Peace, Environment, Education, Food and Nutrition, Environment, Health, and Culture and Heritage.

The WAGGGS World Citizenship Award was launched in 1996 as part of the WAGGGS Building World Citizenship Triennial Theme 1996-2002.

The Award is presented to individuals outside the Movement who have:

  • made an outstanding contribution to the building of a better world
  • been a role model for young people
  • used her or his position to work towards bringing people together across political, religious, economic or social divides.

The Award has so far been presented to thirteen world leaders.


The World Citizenship Award has so far been presented to the following world leaders:

  • Nelson Mandela 1996
  • Corazon Aquino 2001
  • Mary Robinson 1997
  • Archbishop Desmond Tutu 2001
  • Dr Mo Mowlam 1999
  • Catherine Bertini 2002
  • Ian Kiernan AO 1999
  • Dr Nafis Sadik 2002
  • Princess Basma bint Tahal of Jordan 2005
  • Sadako Ogata 2005
  • Stephen Lewis 2007
  • Wangari Maathai 2007
  • Graça Machel 2008

Graça Machel

Graca MachelGraça Machel received the World Citizenship Award at the 33rd World Conference in South Africa, 7 July 2008.

A former Minister of Education in the Mozambique Government, Ms. Machel is a renowned international advocate for women and children’s rights and has been a social and political activist over many decades. She is President of the Foundation for Community Development (FDC), a not for profit Mozambican organization she founded in 1994.

Graça Machel’s many awards include the Laureate of Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger from the Hunger Project in 1992 and the Nansen Medal in recognition of her contribution to the welfare of refugee children in 1995. She has received the Inter Press Service’s International Achievement Award for her work on behalf of children internationally, the Africare Distinguished Humanitarian Service Award and the North-South Prize of the Council of Europe, amongst others.

Graça Machel has served on the boards of numerous international organizations, including the UN Foundation, the Forum of African Women Educationalists, the African Leadership Forum and the International Crisis Group.

Amongst her current commitments, Graça Machel is Chair of the GAVI Fund Board, Chancellor of the University of Cape Town, South Africa and Peer of the African Peer Review Mechanism. Mrs Machel also serves on the Africa Progress Panel, convened by Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations.

With her husband Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu she has convened the Elders, a group of leaders who will contribute their wisdom, independent leadership and integrity to tackling some of the world’s toughest problems.

I have to congratulate the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts for bringing girls together, supporting them and nurturing them through an important journey in their lives – the journey from childhood through to adolescence and into adulthood.

Wangari Maathai

Wangari MaathaiWorld Board Deputy Chairman, Mary Lynn Myers, presented the award to Vertistine Beaman Mbaya, who received it on behalf of Professor Wangari Maathai on 13 June 2007, during the Africa Regional Conference in Lusaka, Zambia.

Wangari Maathai is the first female African Nobel Prize Holder. She received it in 2004 for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace. She was also the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctoral degree.

In 1976, Professor Maathai introduced the tree planting concept to ordinary citizens. This grew into the Green Belt Movement, a grassroots movement which focuses mainly on helping women’s groups plant trees to conserve the environment and improve the quality of life. In addition, the Green Belt Movement campaigns on education, nutrition and other issues impacting women. The Movement has helped women plant more than 30 million trees, and has grown into the Pan African Green Belt Network.

In 1998, Professor Maathai joined the Jubilee 2000 Coalition and co-chaired the Africa campaign, playing a lead role in seeking the cancellation of debts of poor countries in Africa.

In 2002, Professor Maathai was elected to Kenya’s Parliament and later became the Assistant Minister for the Environment. She is the Presiding Officer of the Economic, Social and Cultural Council of the African Union. In 2006, Mrs Maathai was awarded with France’s highest honour – the Legion d’Honneur.

Mrs Maathai’s work and influence has grown from a one woman campaign to save the environment to being internationally recognized for her struggle for democracy, human rights, and environmental conservation.

The admirable characteristics of your great Movement are still your hallmarks and because of them you still stand out from the rest. I am proud to be associated with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. Congratulations and may you continue to excel and to be exemplary leaders”. Professor Wangari Maathai.

Stephen Lewis

Stephen LewisWAGGGS Chief Executive, Mary Mc Phail, presented the award to Stephen Lewis on 7 July 2007, during the Western Hemisphere Regional Conference in Toronto, Canada.

From 1984 to 1988, Stephen Lewis was Canadian Ambassador to the UN. From 1995 to 1999, he was Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF. This was followed in 2001 with his appointment as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa until 2006.

As Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF as well as in his most recent position as the Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, Stephen Lewis has been a passionate advocate of the rights and needs of children. He has also been a powerful voice for women, stressing the links between the AIDS crisis in Africa and gender.

Stephen Lewis currently heads the Stephen Lewis Foundation which is a non-profit organization helping people affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa. The foundation funds grassroots projects, for example providing care to women who are ill; assisting orphans and other AIDS affected children from the payment of school fees to the provision of food; supporting grandmothers who almost single-handedly care for their orphan grandchildren; and supports associations of people living with HIV/AIDS.

Within the global arena, he has helped to raise awareness, influence governments and policy decisions, renew commitments, and bring about global change on the issue of HIV/AIDS. At the other end of the spectrum, through his Foundation, Stephen has made a difference to the lives of individuals living with HIV/AIDS every day.

I commend the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts for its commitment to the fight against HIV and AIDS. Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting plays a vital role in breaking the silence around HIV and AIDS through its work in local communities. Projects taking place around the world have helped girls and young women to gain the knowledge and the skills to fight AIDS and to end discrimination. WAGGGS’ unique peer education programme means that this cumulative experience has made a difference to the lives of thousands of girls and young women!

Sadako Ogata

In September 2005, Sadako Ogata was presented with the World Citizenship Award at a ceremony organized by the Girl Scouts of Japan.

Girl Scouts of Japan President, Naoko Ishii and International Commissioner, Mariko Asano presented Mrs Ogata with her award on behalf of WAGGGS.

Sadako Ogata said:

I am quite honoured to be granted the World Citizenship Award. I also feel privileged to have worked with Girl Scouts/Girl Guides for so many years. It is my sincere wish that the Movement will further develop and that Girl Scouts/Girl Guides learn to become resourceful citizens to make the world a better, friendlier and more peaceful place.

Sadako Ogata is a Professor of Political Science at a university in Tokyo. Her expertise on international diplomacy led her to the Japanese mission to the United Nations, first as Minister and then as Extraordinary Envoy. Her long-held commitment to humanitarian issues and the ideals of the United Nations was soon put into practice when she became Chairman of the Executive Board of the UN Children’s Fund and later the Representative of Japan on the UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR).

She was made High Commissioner for UNHCR in 1999 and her tenure involved some of the most troubled times of the past 50 years, including the Rwandan Genocide, the break up of the former Yugoslavia and the Gulf War where 400,000 Kurds were trapped in north Iraq. She is the only female High Commissioner for Refugees.

Mrs Ogata is currently president of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which assists developing countries to support their own sustainable socio-economic growth.

Princess Basma bint Talal of Jordan

Princess-BasmaIn June 2005, Princess Basma bint Talal of Jordan received the WAGGGS World Citizenship award for her outstanding work in the areas of human development, gender equality and the promotion of children’s health and rights. She accepted the award at WAGGGS’ 32nd World Conference in Jordan.

She has been instrumental in improving Jordan’s attitude to women and children’s rights and has pioneered schemes to give women a greater say in the running of their country.

The President of the Jordanian Association for Boy Scouts and Girl Guides, the Princess was herself a Brownie and Guide.

Princess Basma is the Chairperson of the Jordanian National Commission of Women. Under the Princess’ leadership and through a national consensus-building process, the countrywide strategy for women was created and implemented by the government – the first in the Arab world. Her Royal Highness has also been involved in helping the Commission to make amendments to a number of laws and legislation concerning women and in increasing the profile of women in national and local decision-making bodies. In 1995, for the first time in Jordan, ten women won seats in municipal council elections, one of whom became the country’s first woman mayor.

In 1977, the Princess established the Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development (or JOHUD) which was one of the earliest NGOs in Jordan to address development issues at national level.

Princess Basma is the sister of the late King Hussein I and aunt of the present King Abdullah II of Jordan. The Princess holds a D. Phil degree from Oxford University in the United Kingdom. As well as specializing in languages, the Princess studied social, economic and political development in Jordan and she continues with these areas in her work today.

Nafis Sadik

Nafis SadikIn June 2002, Dr Nafis Sadik received the World Citizenship Award. Dr Sadik was deeply honoured to receive the Award, and commended WAGGGS for its services to young women.

Nafis Sadik was Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) from 1987-2000, becoming the first woman to head one of the United Nations’ major voluntarily-funded programmes.

Nafis Sadik has spent a lifetime working on the issues of global population control and women’s health. Consistently calling attention to the importance of addressing the needs of women, and of involving women directly in making and carrying out development policy, Dr. Sadik’s contribution to improving the health of women and children of the global community has brought her many international awards and honours.

Nafis Sadik is currently the special Adviser to the Secretary-General of the UN, with additional responsibilities as Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Asia. She is married with five children.

Catherine Bertini

Catherine BertiniIn her final week as Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme, Catherine Bertini made time to welcome WAGGGS representatives to her office in Rome.

Catherine was presented with a World Citizenship Award in 2002 to acknowledge the 10 years she has dedicated to the WFP and to the empowerment of women.

Receiving the award, she said: "Girl Scouting had a big influence on me as a young woman. My leaders encouraged me to make goals and work to achieve them."

Catherine Bertini was Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the world’s largest international humanitarian agency, from 1992-2002. In 2001, WFP provided food aid to 77 million people in 82 countries, through over 8,000 staff members.

Ms. Bertini is credited with assisting hundreds of millions of victims of wars and natural disasters throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and parts of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. While working at WFP’s headquarters in Rome, Italy, she was also credited with modernizing the administration of WFP to ensure its efficiency and effectiveness.

She has become perhaps best known for her work in highlighting the pivotal role of women in food distribution, pioneering the use of food aid to empower women and girls, and ensuring that women are represented fully at all levels throughout WFP’s programmes.

In January 2003, Catherine was appointed United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Management. She lives with her husband, Tom Haskell, a freelance photographer, in New York.

Desmond Tutu

Desmond TutuAt the Africa Regional Conference in Cape Town in 2001. the World Citizenship Award was presented to Archbishop Desmond Tutu "We are made for goodness," he said. "So reach for the stars".

At the conference, Archbishop Tutu also launched WAGGGS’ Exploring Spirituality Resource Pack.

A man of immense moral authority, Archbishop Desmond Tutu was one of the leading figures in the fight against apartheid in South Africa.

After his education at Kings College London, Desmond Tutu became the first black Anglican Dean of Johannesburg in 1975. Under his vigorous leadership, the church in South Africa became immersed in the political struggle. Tutu constantly told the government of the time that its racist approach defied the will of God and for that reason could not succeed.

In 1985, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize because of his quest for a non-violent end to apartheid.

Corazon Aquino

Corazon AquinoIn 2001, the WAGGGS World Citizenship Award was presented to Mrs Corazon Aquino, former President of the Republic of the Philippines.

Corazón Cojuangco Aquino, widely known as Cory Aquino, was president of the Philippines from 1986 to 1992. She was the wife of the popular opposition senator Benigno Aquino Jr., and when he was assassinated at Manila airport on his return from exile in 1983, Cory Aquino became the focus of the opposition to the dictatorship of President Ferdinand Marcos.

Cory Aquino stood against Ferdinand Marcos in the presidential election of February 1986. Both Marcos and Aquino claimed to have won, and held rival inaugurations on February 25, but Marcos then fled in the face of huge popular demonstrations and the refusal of the military to intervene against them.

Despite her enormous personal popularity and that of the new democratic constitution, she continued to face repeated military coup attempts and communist insurrection. President of the Republic of the Philippines 1986-1992, Corazon Aquino faced adversity with courage and directness. Aquino oversaw the restoration of democracy in the Philippines and the promulgation of a new constitution, which limited the powers of the presidency and established a bicameral legislature. She passed away on 1 August 2009.

Ian Kiernan

Ian KiernanAustralian Ian Kiernan, Founder and Chairman of the Clean up the World campaign was awarded WAGGGS World Citizenship in 1999.

Accepting the award, Ian Kiernan said: "The youth of today are demonstrating a greater interest in environmental issues, especially the Guides who have actively participated in the Clean up the World campaign in dozens of countries. I am deeply honoured to be the recipient of the WAGGGS World Citizenship Award by such a respected organization". Following the collapse of his successful building empire in 1974, Ian Kiernan faced years of court battles and financial hardship. However, his great optimism helped him bounce back to achieve something even greater and more worthwhile than before.

In 1986-87, he represented Australia in the gruelling BOC Challenge, a nine-month round-the-world yacht race. "I’d read about the Sargasso Sea south of Bermuda. It held a great fascination for me. It was supposed to be the place where the (legendary) halcyon bird charmed the sea to calm and laid its eggs on the seaweed. But when I sailed in, all I saw was floating rubbish. Plastic bags, toothpaste tubes, broken plastic buckets.’’

As soon as he got home, Kiernan organised a one-day event to clean up the rubbish around Sydney Harbour. An astonishing 40,000 people turned up to help. So the next year, Kiernan tried the same idea for the whole country, and called it Clean Up Australia Day. Now there is a Clean Up The World movement, which around 40 million volunteers in 120 countries spend one day a year to help spring-clean the globe.

Mo Mowlam

Mo MowlamDr Marjorie ‘Mo’ Mowlam received the third World Citizenship Award in recognition of her contribution to building peace in Northern Ireland as the British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

Dr Mowlam expressed her delight at receiving such a prestigious award.

Mo Mowlam’s rise through the British Labour Party’s ranks was rapid after first being elected as MP for Redcar in 1987. By 1989 she was Opposition Spokesperson on City and Corporate Affairs. She was elected to the Shadow Cabinet in 1992 with responsibility for Women’s issues before being appointed Shadow Heritage Secretary the following year. She became Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary in 1994 and following Labour’s victory in the General Election of May 1997, was appointed Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

A popular and often outspoken MP, Dr Mowlam’s refreshingly honest and lively style attracted much attention during her years in government. She resigned from the government in 2000. Sadly, Mo Mowlam died in 2005, aged 55.

Mary Robinson

Mary RobinsonThe first woman to receive the World Citizenship Award was Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and, at the time, new in her post as the High Commissioner for Human Rights at the UN.

The award was presented to Mary Robinson at the launch of the Building World Citizenship programme in 1997. In thanking WAGGGS for the award, Mary Robinson had spoken of her commitment to improving the circumstances of girls and young women throughout the world. She praised the work of WAGGGS.

Mary Robinson started her career as a lawyer in Dublin and became President of Ireland in 1990, recording at one point an over 90 per cent popularity rating. She placed special emphasis during her seven-year Presidency on the needs of developing countries, linking the history of the Great Irish Famine to today’s nutrition, poverty and policy issues, thus creating a bridge of partnership between developed and developing countries.

She went on to become the second United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) from 1997 to 2002 and gave that role a world profile, integrating human rights concerns in all the activities of the United Nations.

Since completing her term as High Commissioner she has been developing a new project - the Ethical Globalisation Initiative. The EGI brings key stakeholders together in new alliances to integrate concepts of human rights, gender sensitivity and enhanced accountability into efforts to address global challenges and governance shortcomings.

Nelson Mandela

Nelson MandelaIn 1996, the first World Citizenship Award was presented to Nelson Mandela for his extraordinary courage and commitment to the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.

Nelson Mandela joined the African National Congress in 1944 and was engaged in resistance against the ruling National Party’s apartheid policies after 1948.

During his years in prison, Nelson Mandela’s reputation grew steadily. He was widely accepted as the most significant black leader in South Africa and became a potent symbol of resistance as the anti-apartheid movement gathered strength. He consistently refused to compromise his political position to obtain his freedom.

Nelson Mandela was released on February 18, 1990. After his release, he plunged himself wholeheartedly into his life’s work, striving to attain the goals he and others had set out almost four decades earlier. In 1991, Mandela was elected President of the ANC. He was inaugurated as the first democratically elected State President of South Africa on 10 May 1994.

Nelson Mandela accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 as an accolade to all people who have worked for peace and stood against racism. Nelson Mandela retired from Public life in June 1999. Nelson Mandela passed away on 5 December 2013.