Canadian filmmaker Manon Barbeau, President and Founder of Wapikoni Mobile, and the Kenyan NGO The Coexist Initiative are the laureats of the 2018 UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence. Firmin Edouard Matoko, Assistant Director-General of UNESCO for Priority Africa and External Relations, and France Marquet, Principal Trustee of the Madanjeet Singh Foundation, awarded the Prize during an official ceremony on 16 November 2018.
For its eleventh edition, organized around traditional Indian dance presented by the Khajuri Association, the ceremony was held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on the occasion of the International Day of Tolerance. In his opening address, Mr Matoko stressed that tolerance is "both a moral virtue and a political principle: it lies in the ability to recognize others in their full dignity, and to grant them rights equivalent to ours, by virtue of their humanity". France Marquet, for her part, recalled the importance of the work of the Madanjeet Singh Foundation, established in the name of its benefactor Madanjeet Singh, who was a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Indian artist, writer and diplomat.
Manon Barbeau is rewarded for the many activities carried out for indigenous peoples through Wapikoni Mobile, a traveling training and audiovisual creation studio, which organizes educational workshops, film screenings and training activities. Its wide range of initiatives aims to enable indigenous youth to learn about audiovisual creation and to promote and highlight indigenous cultures, languages and identities. The filmmaker stressed the importance of giving a voice to these peoples and recognizing their own rights.
Wanjala Wafula, founder of The Coexist Initiative, spoke on behalf of the NGO to highlight the need to effectively combat violence against women, and to ensure full recognition of their rights. Established in Kenya in 2002, the non-profit organization is recognized for its promotion of gender equality, social justice and human rights. Through an innovative and inclusive approach, it tackles gender-based negative cultural practices and stereotypes, including seeking to involve men, boys and community leaders more in the work of the organization.
The UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize, awarded every two years, recognizes significant activities in the scientific, artistic, cultural or communication fields aimed at the promotion of a spirit of tolerance and non-violence. It has been inspired by the ideals of the UNESCO Constitution which states that "peace, if it is not to fail, must be founded on the intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind”.