In a world often marked by adversity and displacement, stories of strength, perseverance, and hope emerge, reminding us of the indomitable spirit of humanity. This week, Visa and WeAreTheCity held a celebration ceremony, in London and Warsaw, for twenty incredible refugee women who were acknowledged in the inaugural Visa Everywhere Pioneer 20 2023 list. The evening celebrated the remarkable achievements of these women who have overcome enormous challenges to make significant contributions to their new communities and the world at large.
The event brought together individuals, organisations, and supporters from charities and NGOs to recognise and applaud the achievements of these unsung heroes. Hosted in a spirit of unity and empowerment, the ceremony highlighted the vital role that refugee women play in shaping our collective future.
Refugee women often face unimaginable hardships when forced to flee their homelands due to conflict, persecution, or other life-threatening circumstances. Many arrive in unfamiliar territories, navigating language barriers, cultural differences, and a host of socio-economic challenges. However, the ceremony sought to shed light on their stories of triumph over adversity.
One of the most powerful aspects of the event was the opportunity to hear the personal stories of these remarkable women. The event was opened by Mette Grolleman, SVP Government Engagement EU from Visa who shared her heartfelt congratulations with this year’s Pioneers. Thereafter we heard from Vanessa Vallely OBE, CEO of WeAreTheCity. One of the judges, Alphonsine Kabagabo, Director at Women for Refugee Women, shared her thoughts around the resilience, courage, and determination of the women in the room. Next, there was a panel moderated by Tribeni Chougule, Director, Inclusive Impact and Sustainability which included three of the Pioneers, Comfort Etim, Rossana Leal and Tanya Balanova. Their stories illustrated the remarkable ability of refugee women to not only survive but to thrive and make substantial contributions to their new communities.
The ceremony recognised refugee women from various backgrounds and fields, celebrating their contributions across a wide spectrum of endeavours. Some recipients had set up their own charities, others not for profits to connect refugees through the arts, others had used sport as a way of creating support networks and communities. Some had established businesses that not only provided for their families but also created employment opportunities for others. Many had become community leaders, advocating for the rights and well-being of fellow refugees and contributing to the greater good.
The ceremony underscored the importance of inclusivity and the incredible potential that can be harnessed when we embrace diversity. The event served as a reminder that refugees, especially women, bring with them a wealth of skills, talents, and perspectives that can enrich the societies that welcome them. The honourees at the awards ceremony were not just celebrated for their personal achievements but also for the positive impact they had on their host communities. Their stories showed that refugees are not merely recipients of aid but active contributors to society, helping to create more inclusive and vibrant communities.
As the event came to a close, it was clear that the stories of these remarkable refugee women were not just stories of survival but stories of triumph, resilience, and hope. They serve as a reminder that in the face of adversity, the human spirit can soar to incredible heights, bringing light to even the darkest of times. The celebration was a testament to the enduring power of the human spirit and the limitless potential of refugee women when given the chance to thrive.
Each Pioneer was also awarded £2,500 to donate to a chosen charity of their choice.
Once again, we would like to offer our congratulations to all of the remarkable women featured on this year’s Visa Everywhere Pioneer 20 list in partnership with WeAreTheCity.