Sudanese entrepreneur, survivor and tea seller, Awadeya Mahmoud has been awarded the 2016 Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award. The announcement was made by the US Embassy in Khartoum. She is popularly known as the “tea lady”.
Awadeya Mahmoud is the Sudanese founder of the Women’s Food and Tea Sellers’ Cooperative and the Women’s Multi-Purpose Cooperative for Khartoum State. As a result of wars and conflicts, Awadeya was once an internally displaced woman in Sudan. Surviving that ordeal, she set up an informal establishment to help out women who suffer the same fate.
Fearlessly, she challenges the government in ensuring the security and welfare of the ‘voiceless’. In her own personal task to remedy the situation, her co-operative organizations have assisted a good number of about 8000 women. From the sales of teas, these women, most of who are internally displaced, learn to be busy. From their profits they improve their economic status.
The international women of courage award platform was set up in 2007. It was established to honor women around the world who have set leadership examples. Especially as it pertains to gender equality, human rights and social developments. Thus, they have found the Sudanese tea seller the best to have merited the award.
Since its inception, the award has been honorarily awarded to about 100 women from 60 different countries of the world. The 2016 award was presented by the United State’s First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Secretary of State John Kerry.
In all, 3 African women leaders were among the selected 14. Aside Awadeya, the 2 other women were, Fatimata M’baye and Vicky Ntetema from Mauritania and Tanzania respectively. Fatima is the first female lawyer in Mauritania. She is also the co-founder and president of the Mauritanian Association for Human Rights. Vicky is the Executive Director of Under the Same Sun, an NGO dedicated to the advocacy of human rights and protection of Albinos. She has partnered with the BBC to make that dream come true.
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In a male dominated society, Awadeya pushes relentlessly for the good of the women via empowerment skills and strategies.
“The US Embassy and the American people congratulate Mahmoud, and the many courageous Sudanese women she represents, for playing such a transformative role in her society and for her continued dedication to seeking equal opportunities for women” – U.S Embassy in Khartoum.