Her Excellency Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Her Excellency Madame Ban Soon-taek, and Her Excellency Madame Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, President of the Republic of Malta

Honouring Women Leaders Committed to the 2030 Agenda

New York, September 21, 2016: UN Women and the Global Partnerships Forum (GPF) hosted a High-Level Event on the margins of the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly, to honour Women Leaders committed to the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  The VIP event recognized the contributions of Her Excellency Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Her Excellency Madame Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, President of the Republic of Malta, and Her Excellency Madame Ban Soon-taek, First Lady of the United Nations, for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Agent of Change Award was created by renowned artist Spar Street for the Global Partnerships Forum, to recognize Champions of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, in support of UN Women.

The event was attended by an array of government leaders, business stalwarts, members of civil society, gender equality champions, philanthropists, and change-makers, who have helped empower women and advance gender equality.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is an ambitious call to action for political leaders, policy makers, business, and civil society to come together and support concrete actions for achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  The SDGs seek to change the course of the twenty-first century by addressing key challenges such as poverty, inequality, and violence against women.  Women’s empowerment is a precondition for this.  Women have a critical role to play in ALL of the SDGs, with many targets specifically recognizing women’s equality and empowerment as both the objective, and as part of the solution.

The Global Partnerships Foruma not-for-profit platform to allow advocates and change-makers to address global challenges through innovative and productive partnerships – and their strategic partner UN Womenthe United Nations organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women - came together to spotlight the achievements and role of women leaders.

The event opened with a Welcome Address from UN Women representatives: Mr. Ravi Karkara, Senior Advisor Strategic Partnership and Advocacy, To the Assistant Secretary- General/Deputy Executive Director, UN Women and H.E. Madame Lakshmi Puri, Deputy Executive Director, UN Women. 

Mr. Amir Dossal, President and CEO, Global Partnerships Forum, highlighted the importance of this unique platform to recognize global leaders.

H.E. Madame Lakshmi Puri set the overall tone of the event and the need for more governments to mobilise action towards achieving SDG 5 - Gender Equality: In line with the ambition of this global framework, UN Women has called upon all governments to Step It Up for Gender Equality, and now - as the hard work of implementation has started – to ensure a gender-responsive implementation of the SDGs and that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development actually delivers for all women and girls. 

This evening, we celebrate a number of women leaders who are truly amazing partners in the shared mission and responsibility to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment.

The Agent of Change is that part of us that deeply wants to make a difference in this world, to uplift our own lives in a way that inspires others to recognize their greatness and do wonderful things. It is the allowing of heaven to move through us unimpeded, so that we can be of service and leave the world in a better place.[1]

Madame Puri and Mr. Dossal presented the Agent of Change award to three distinguished change-makers for their contributions and commitment to achieving SDG 5 – Gender Equality.

Her Excellency Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, in accepting the award, said, “I feel humbled by these recognitions. I thank UN Women and Global Partnership Forum for giving me this honour. This is a recognition for our women working in equal partnership with our men. I dedicate the awards to the people of Bangladesh for having faith in my vision for change.”

The Prime Minister has been pivotal to the success of Bangladesh in achieving the targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a success which is acclaimed both globally and regionally.  She is responsible for leading Bangladesh on the path to achieve the status of a middle income country by 2021 “where the rule of law and social justice will prevail over poverty, hunger, inequality, impunity and exclusion”; she has articulated her vision for a “Digital Bangladesh” by 2021; and she is a champion for gender equality and empowerment of women in Bangladesh trailblazing equal opportunity programmes in Bangladesh.

Her Excellency Madame Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, President of the Republic of Malta, was recognised as a champion for gender equality and female empowerment, particularly in mobilising male support for the HeForShe campaign and a focus on protecting gender minorities.  

The President stated, “I fight for equality and because of this I might come across as nagging.  I want more female participation.  We have made great strides but it's not enough.  I will not be happy until we eliminate gender discrimination."

Her Excellency Madame Ban Soon-taek, First Lady of the United Nations, was presented the Agent of Change award for her deep commitment to further the rights of women around the world.

Over the years, Madame Ban has personally championed the cause for women and girls, particularly in health and education.  She was instrumental in launching the public-private partnership between Avon Products and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) for women’s empowerment.  Madame Ban was actively involved with the establishment of the UN ‘Women for Peace’ initiative in 2008, which raises funds for a variety of gender equality initiatives:


  • The United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women;
  • Scholarships for young women to complete graduate studies; and
  • Advance academic and charitable organizations that provide opportunities for women to partake in the global peace building process.

She also supported the launch and furthering of the Secretary-General’s campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Women.

H.E. Madame Ban Soon-taek, in accepting the award, said, “I am extremely grateful to Mrs. Lakshmi Puri, and my friend Tas and Amir Dossal for this honour.  My husband and I are deeply committed to addressing the inequality of women around the world.

Special Remarks were delivered by model, television personality and respected philanthropist Ms. Petra Němcová, Founder and Chair, Happy Hearts Fund, which she founded in 2006.

Ms. Němcová stated: “I am honored to be part of this important initiative to recognize women leaders around the world. I am extremely passionate about women and children.  Over the years, I have focused my energies to help children and women around the world who have been impacted by disasters.  I congratulate the Global Partnerships Forum for its foresight and commitment to bring about positive social change.”

Mr. Amir Dossal delivered the Closing Remarks at the event with a poignant note: “It is an honour and a privilege to work with UN Women in the betterment of our common humanity.  Tas and I thank you all for your valuable contributions to society.”  Mr. Dossal invited the attendees to support concrete programmes and projects to further the mission of UN Women.  


The Global Partnerships Forum and UN Women are grateful to Zeckendorf Development, LLC and Global Holdings Inc. for their kind hospitality.  We specially thank Ms. Jill Mangone, Director of Sales at 50 UN Plaza for her support in making the event a huge success, and for her deep commitment to gender equality and women's empowerment.



About the Global Partnerships Forum

The Global Partnerships Forum is a unique 501(c)(3) not-for-profit knowledge platform, providing changemakers with the tools to build innovative partnerships.  It convenes thought leaders, policy makers, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and investors to address global challenges, and foster economic growth by moving the needle from aid to investment.  For further information, visit:

About UN Women

UN Women is the global champion for gender equality, working to develop and uphold standards and create an environment in which every woman and girl can exercise her human rights and live up to her full potential. We are trusted partners for advocates and decision-makers from all walks of life, and a leader in the effort to achieve gender equality.

UN Women, among other issues, works for the elimination of discrimination against women and girls; empowerment of women; and achievement of equality between women and men as partners and beneficiaries of development, human rights, humanitarian action and peace and security.  For further information, visit:

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[1] For a full transcript of H.E. Madame Lakshmi Puri’s speech click here

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