The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has named a gender and disabilities rights activist Hauwa Ojeifo as its Changemaker Award winner for 2020.

The 2020 Changemaker Award celebrates an individual who has inspired change using personal experience or from a position of leadership.

It recognised Ojeifo for her work promoting gender equality (Global Goal #5). Ojeifo is a sexual and domestic abuse survivor and the founder of She Writes Woman, a women-led movement giving the issue of mental health a voice in Nigeria.

The foundation made the announcement during the Gates Foundation Global Goalkeeper Award won by director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), Dr. John Nkengasong.

As part of its annual Goalkeepers campaign, the foundation also announced three other Goalkeepers Awards and launched two innovative partnerships that address the impact of COVID-19 on Kenya’s health and economy.

Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Mr Bill Gates, praised Nkengasong and the Africa CDC for their commitment to the fight against COVID-19.

Gates said: “Dr. Nkengasong and his team at Africa CDC are deeply deserving of this award. Their commitment to securing the latest innovations from elsewhere in the world—as well as developing them themselves—will go a long way towards ensuring that the continent has the vaccines and medicines it needs to fight COVID-19.”

Besides Dr. Nkengasong, and Ojeifo, two other winners also emerged. They are: Bonita Sharma of Nepal, and the MASH Project Foundation based in India.

“Each was recognised for playing a role in addressing the effects of COVID-19 in their communities.

“The 2020 Global Goalkeeper Award recognises an established individual demonstrating significant commitment to health and development, specifically in response to the pandemic. The award was presented to Dr. Nkengasong, a central voice for Africa’s scientific community.

As co-chair of the Africa CDC Consortium for COVID-19 Vaccine Clinical Trials (CONCVACT), Dr. Nkengasong is leading the securement of a variety of late-stage vaccine clinical trials on the continent by bringing together global vaccine developers, funders, and local facilitators.

The 2020 Progress Award, which celebrates an individual who supports progress via a science, technology, digital, or business initiative, recognised Bonita Sharma of Nepal for her work promoting good health and well-being (Global Goal #3). Sharma is the co-founder and CEO of Social Changemakers and Innovators (SOCHAI), a youth-led nonprofit working to improve the nutritional health of nursing mothers and young children and to economically empower marginalized women through business opportunities.

The 2020 Campaign Award, which celebrates a campaign that has raised awareness or built a community by inspiring action and creating change, recognised the MASH Project Foundation for furthering global cooperation and partnership (Global Goal #17).

“A social enterprise based in India, the MASH Project Foundation is building a global community of social change makers by bridging the gaps between governments, civil society, the corporate sector, youth, and media to drive social impact.

“While the pandemic and the inequalities it highlights will undoubtedly define this era, the world is seeing the very best of humanity emerge,” said Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “We’re inspired by the energy and drive of this year’s award winners to create a safer, healthier, and more equitable world.”

The foundation also announced two dynamic, cross-sector partnerships called Goalkeepers Accelerators. These partnerships catalyze progress by bringing together partners from different sectors to pool their collective investment, knowledge, and big ideas to tackle one or more of the SDGs.

The 2020 Accelerators—led by Sanergy and Educate!—are actively helping stem the spread of COVID-19 in Kenya while defending against the ripple effects of the pandemic on the country’s economy and a multitude of health issues. Safe Sanitation for a Healthy, Sustainable World: Led by Sanergy, this Accelerator will scale access to safe sanitation services in Kenya’s informal settlements and help stop the spread of COVID-19 by providing soap, PPE and hand-washing education for residents, with the goal of reaching 1.3 million Kenyans by 2025.

The announcement of the Goalkeepers Global Goals Awards and the Accelerators follows the release last week of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s annual Goalkeepers Report.