An Afghan women's rights campaigner and a Palestinian peace activist have been named winners of a United Nations award on tolerance and non-violence instituted in memory of Mahatma Gandhi.
The award has been instituted by renowned Indian writer and diplomat Madanjeet Singh. Anarkali Honaryar of Afghanistan and Khaled Abu Awwad of Palestine have been awarded the USD 100,000 UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence.
Honaryar has been honoured for her commitment to improve conditions of women and minority groups in Afghanistan and to promote the ideals of human dignity, human rights, mutual respect and tolerance.
Her work focuses on helping women who suffer from domestic abuse, forced marriages and gender discrimination. She became the first non-Muslim woman member of Afghanistan's lower house of parliament Wolesi Jirga in the 2010 elections.
Awwad is cited for his efforts to promote tolerance, peace and non-violence through his work as a peace activist and leader in the reconciliation process between Palestinians and Israelis.
Active on both sides of the Israeli Palestinian divide, Awwad leads the Palestinian branch of the Parents Circle Families Forum (PCFF), an organization of Palestinians and Israelis who have lost family members in the conflict.
The award money will be divided equally between the two, who were selected by an international jury. The award ceremony will be held at UNESCO headquarters in Paris on December 9 during which a special tribute will also be paid to Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
The Burmese democracy icon was awarded the UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize in 2002.
The UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize is awarded every two years to individuals or institutions for their contributions to the promotion of tolerance and non-violence.
The award was created in 1995 on the occasion of the 125th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi by Singh, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and Founder of the South Asia Foundation.