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2010 Gruber Women's Rights Prize Press Release

Center for Reproductive Rights
Alyson O'Mahoney
Robin Leedy & Associates
+1 (914) 241-0086 ext. 13
Bernetia Akin
The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation+1 (340) +1(340) 775-4430

2010 Gruber Women’s Rights Prize Recipients Hailed for Courageous Efforts in Advancing Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Rights

Two Organizations Recognized for Extending and Defending the Rights of Women Through Litigation, Law Reform, and Education

June 23, 2010, New York, NY – The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation today announced that it will award the 2010 Women’s Rights Prize to two organizations that have contributed significantly to advancing women’s reproductive health and rights in many countries.

Center for Reproductive Rights – an organization dedicated to winning for all women the right to decide whether and when to have children, the freedom to exercise that right, and access to the best reproductive healthcare available. Since 1992, the Center has used both US constitutional law and international human rights law to bring important cases before the courts, UN committees and regional human rights bodies. As a result of these efforts, women in more than 50 countries have expanded access to birth control, safe abortion, prenatal and obstetric care and reliable information about reproductive health and human rights.

CLADEM (Comité de América Latina y El Caribe para la Defensa de los Derechos de la Mujer) – a regional organization in Latin America and the Caribbean that promotes, monitors and defends women’s rights as human rights and contributes to the construction of real democracies in which women can fully exercise their human rights and participate at all levels of society with freedom from violence. CLADEM was founded in Costa Rica in 1987, two years after the United Nations Third World Conference on Women in Nairobi, Kenya, at which female lawyers gathered to discuss the need for judicial and political reform to defend women’s rights. Currently, about 200 individual and organizational associates in 14 countries are affiliated with CLADEM.

The Women’s Rights Prize will be awarded in a ceremony this fall celebrating the achievements of the recipients, which will share the $500,000 prize.

“Given the decision-making power and influence historically exercised by men both in the family and within political and judicial institutions, successfully effecting any change on behalf of women’s rights presents an enormous challenge,” said Pinar Ilkkaracan, founding president of Turkey’s Women for Women’s Human Rights – NEW WAYS and a Gruber laureate and advisor. “To stand up for the freedom of women to control their sexual and reproductive lives in the face of longstanding political, judicial, cultural and religious gender inequality and bias, requires extraordinary courage and commitment. The Center for Reproductive Rights and CLADEM have demonstrated exactly that level of courage and commitment in promoting and defending women’s sexual and reproductive freedom and in achieving dramatic changes that have significantly advanced the cause of women’s human rights.”

Headquartered in New York City, the Center for Reproductive Rights works toward a world in which every woman is free to choose whether and when to have children, without being subject to coercion or discrimination, and in which every woman has access to the best reproductive healthcare available. In the world that is envisioned, every woman would participate with dignity as a full member of society. Founded in 1992, the Center has used its expertise in both US constitutional and international human rights law to expand access to birth control, safe abortion, prenatal and obstetric care and reliable, unbiased information. Outside the courtroom, the Center influences the law by documenting abuses, working with policymakers, and promoting legal scholarship and teaching on reproductive health and human rights.

Working with more than 100 organizations in more than 50 countries, the Center has played an important role in contributing to the progress made in the area of reproductive health and freedom since the 1994 United Nations International Conference on Population and Development held in Cairo, Egypt, and the 1995 United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing, both of which served to make governments responsible for protecting the reproductive rights of their female citizens. It has been the moving force behind a number of important judicial decisions made at the national level and in international human rights courts, including bringing the first case (from Peru) on access to abortion before the United Nations Human Rights Committee. In that groundbreaking case, the Committee declared that denying a woman access to a therapeutic abortion was cruel and degrading treatment — the equivalent of torture. Over the past ten years, the Center also worked with its partners in Nepal in moving that country away from viewing abortion as always illegal and punishable with incarceration, to viewing access to government funding for abortion as an affirmative right for women who could not otherwise afford an abortion. As a result, the Nepalese government was required to set up such a fund. The Center currently has two groundbreaking cases pending before the Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the first time that cases have been brought before CEDAW on the right to emergency obstetrics care and the right to access abortion. (A complete biography is available at

CLADEM (Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defense of Women’s Rights) is a network of women’s organizations and activists committed to the defense of women’s rights in Latin America and the Caribbean. Comprising about 200 individual and organizational associates in 14 countries, CLADEM promotes women’s rights by monitoring international treaties, proposing legislative reforms, undertaking research and training, and organizing group action where needed. The organization brings cases involving human rights violations against women to national and international courts and seeks to hold governments to the commitments they have made through treaty or legislation. These cases have, at times, resulted in compensation to victims, but they have also led to legal reform and changes in local policy.

Two years after the United Nations Third World Conference on Women in 1985, CLADEM was founded in San Jose, Costa Rica, to defend women’s rights in the region. To this end, CLADEM advocates, and monitors compliance with, international agreements such as the Programme for Action for the empowerment of women adopted at the United Nations International Conference on Population and Development held in Cairo, Egypt, in 1994; the treaty ratified by 25 Latin American and Caribbean countries following the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence Against Women, held in Belem Do Para, Brazil, in 1994; and the Platform for Action, designed to remove every obstacle to women’s active participation in all spheres of public and private life, adopted at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in 1995.

In the 1980s, CLADEM was primarily concerned with making violence against women visible — to make domestic violence a public issue and a legal matter, not a personal one. In the late 1980s and into the 1990s, CLADEM was also working on sexual and reproductive rights and working to keep the State out of that arena. Its commitment is to true democracy — one that manifests itself in the daily lives of women and of all people — and to peace. For CLADEM, the combination of democracy and peace is seen as fundamental to a world with gender equality and freedom from all types of discrimination. (A complete biography is available at

The official citation reads:

The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation proudly presents the 2010 Women’s Rights Prize to:

The Center for Reproductive Rights, a U.S.-based organization that uses the law to protect women's reproductive freedom, and The Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defense of Women's Rights (CLADEM), a network of activists and organizations from countries in the region committed to the defense of women's rights as human rights, for their historic collaboration in advancing women's sexual and reproductive rights and successfully holding governments accountable for complying with international treaties and standards on women's rights.

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Additional Information

The Women’s Rights Prize of The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation is presented to an individual or group that has made significant contributions, often at great personal or professional risk, to furthering the rights of women and girls in any area and to advancing public awareness of the need for gender equality to achieve a just world.

In addition to the cash award, the Center for Reproductive Rights and CLADEM will each receive a gold medal.

Members of the committee that selected the 2010 Women’s Rights Prize recipients:

Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, The New School; Pinar Ilkkaracan, Women for Women’s Human Rights – NEW WAYS; Akua Kuenyehia, International Criminal Court; Cecilia Medina Quiroga, University of Chile; Thandabantu Nhlapo, University of Cape Town; Geeta Rao Gupta, formerly with the International Center for Research on Women; Sakena Yacoobi, Afghan Institute of Learning.

Laureates of the Gruber Foundation Women's Rights Prize:

2009: Leymah Gbowee, who helped form a coalition of Christian and Muslim women to end the Liberian civil war; and the Women’s Legal Centre, for court and legislative advocacy in South Africa and for educating women about their legal rights

2008: Ms. Yanar Mohammed – a cofounder of Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, has succeeded in protecting numerous Iraqi women threatened by domestic abuse and “honor killings"
Ms. Sapana Pradhan Malla – a member of Nepal’s Constituent Assembly, has helped extend gender equality in many areas through effective advocacy of legal reforms
Dr. Nadera Shaloub-Kevorkian - a leading scholar and activist, has worked to end domestic violence against Palestinian women, particularly in “honor killings”

2007: Ms. Pinar Ilkkaracan –recognized both individually and for her leadership in two organizations that she co-founded; helped reform Turkish laws to advance gender equality and advocated for sexual and reproductive rights
Women for Women’s Human Rights –played a critical role in advancing women’s civil and reproductive rights and raising awareness about gender-based violence
The Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies –helped shatter myths about customs and religious practices and united women’s rights advocates from 14 countries in an effort to protect women and girls

2006: Unión Nacional de Mujeres Guatemaltecas (UNMG) –a leader in working toward peace-building and equitable participation in Guatemala
Sweatshop Watch –strong advocate for the economic and political rights of migrant workers in the US
Judge Cecilia Medina Quiroga –advanced the rights of women through international law

2005: Shan Women’s Action Network –dedicated to ending the oppression of minority women along the Thai-Burma border
The Women’s League of Burma –a multi-ethnic umbrella organization committed to empowering women and enabling their participation in the democracy movement

2004: Professor Sakena Yacoobi –founded a grassroots program within the International Rescue Committee that quadrupled the number of Afghan girls enrolled in school
Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) –provides health and human rights education to 350,000 women and girls in Afghanistan and in Pakistan’s refugee camps

2003: Judge Navanethem Pillay –the first black woman to serve on the bench of the High Court of South Africa; strong advocate for human rights and women’s issues
Pro-Femmes Twese Hamwe –an umbrella organization comprising over 40 women’s groups across Rwanda; dedicated to achieving peace and eradicating discrimination

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The Gruber International Prize Program honors contemporary individuals in the fields of Cosmology, Genetics, Neuroscience, Justice and Women’s Rights, whose groundbreaking work provides new models that inspire and enable fundamental shifts in knowledge and culture. The Selection Advisory Boards choose individuals whose contributions in their respective fields advance our knowledge, potentially have a profound impact on our lives, and, in the case of the Justice and Women’s Rights Prizes, demonstrate courage and commitment in the face of significant obstacles.

The nomination form for the 2011 award and additional information about nomination requirements and selection criteria may be found on the Foundation web site at

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The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation honors and encourages educational excellence, social justice and scientific achievements that better the human condition. For more information about Foundation guidelines and priorities, please visit

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For more information on the 2010 Gruber Prizes, email or contact Bernetia Akin of the Gruber Foundation at +1 340-775-4430. Media materials and additional background information on the Gruber Prizes can be found at our online newsroom: