Oluwafunke Adeoye, Nigerian human rights lawyer and two Kenyan citizens have won the 2023 Waislitz Global Citizen Awards.
The award is aimed at inspiring people working within their communities to overcome challenges like air and water pollution, period poverty, unstable infrastructure and gender disparities in education.
It is also to drive the mission to end extreme poverty and improve the living conditions of people globally.
Adeoye founded the Hope Behind Bars Africa, after some personal encounters with the justice system including that of her father’s arrest and detention for a crime he reportedly did not commit.
The organisation closes the justice gap by providing free legal services and direct support to low-income incarcerated individuals while promoting criminal justice reforms through research, evidence-based advocacy, and technology.
Over 7,000 incarcerated individuals have benefitted from their interventions.
With the award, Adeoye plans to fully launch Justicepadi, a tech platform that will revolutionise legal aid in West Africa and also expand her work for climate justice.
“It is crucial for people to understand that behind the labels of “convicts” or “prisoners”, there are human beings with stories, hopes, and dreams.
“By offering legal aid, we strive to ensure that every person, regardless of their circumstances, has access to fair representation and a chance to rebuild their lives”, Adeoye said.
The others are; Peter Njeri and Esther Kimani, both Kenya citizens, were named as the 2023 Waislitz Global Citizen Award winner and the Waislitz Global Citizen Disruptor Award winner.
The Waislitz Global Citizen Awards are annual cash prizes totaling $250,000 that recogniae the excellence of individuals in their work to end extreme poverty and its systemic causes.
The grand prize is $100,000, with two additional prizes of $75,000 each.
“When we first conceived these awards almost 10 years ago, we wanted to shine a light on those heroes working at grassroots levels to end global poverty. We also wanted to encourage others to do the same.
“The awards have grown in stature and participation rates every year and I am proud that we’ve been able to assist so many outstanding and inspirational young champions from around the world to advance their efforts in the fight against global poverty.
“This year’s winners are no exception and I wholeheartedly congratulate them all”, Alex Waislitz, Chairman and Founder of the Waislitz Foundation said.
Peter Njeri, who grew up in Soweto, Nairobi, and saw his family suffer first-hand from the effects of indoor air pollution, set out to solve this problem.
He produced a technology that turns plastic waste into clean energy and co-founded Mega Gas Alternative Energy— a clean-tech startup on a mission to provide access to clean and affordable cooking energy for low-income families all while protecting the environment.
Today, over 10,050 families in Kenya use his technology. The Waislitz Global Citizen Award will enable him to serve an extra 5,400 families each month.
Esther Kimani is the 27-year-old CEO of FarmerLine, a climate agritech trailblazer disrupting Africa’s agricultural sector.
With delayed detection of crop pests and disease destroying over 47 per cent crop yield every farming season, Kimani developed the first-ever solar-powered AI-based crop pests and diseases detection device.
Its vision is to end hunger and extreme poverty for a million marginalised smallholder farmers.
Her inspiration comes from experiencing farm losses from pests and diseases firsthand as she grew up farming on the slopes of the Aberdare mountains in Kenya.
Kimani’s technology has so far impacted over 60,000 farmers in Kenya.