ATD Quart Monde

ATD Quart Monde’s Story

In 1957, having just arrived in France to serve as chaplain to 250 homeless families, Father Joseph Wresinski walked through Noisy-le-Grand, an emergency housing camp near Paris. The conditions in the camp were appalling: sheet-metal huts in a muddy field, four water pumps for over a thousand people, and children dying of cold or of fire when makeshift heating systems malfunctioned.

A child of poverty himself, Father Joseph understood the people in Noisy-le-Grand. One of the first things he did was replace the soup kitchen and used clothing dispensary with a library and kindergarten. This sent a clear message, one that is still at the core of the ATD Quart Monde movement. People living in poverty do not need pity and charity; they need to be involved in the fight against poverty. They need to have their voices heard by decision-makers.

“I will take you up the steps of the Élysée, the United Nations and the Vatican,” Father Joseph promised the families in Noisy-le-Grand. At the time of his death in 1987, after 30 years of alliance-building and advocacy work, he had brought them to speak to the highest authorities in France, and with diplomats at the United Nations. The visit to the Vatican was not far behind, occurring two years later.

The community development project that Father Joseph began in Noisy-le-Grand grew to become ATD Quart Monde, an international organization headquartered in Paris dedicated to eradicating poverty and empowering the world’s most disadvantaged people. ATD stands for All Together in Dignity, and, true to its name, the movement has united thousands of people from all political, religious, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds from 34 countries.

In France, ATD Quart Monde has helped include marginalized groups into society through structural and legal changes, an essential component of pluralism. For instance, it was instrumental in passing a minimum welfare income for the unemployed, universal health coverage, and the enforceable right to housing. Half of the social assistance in France today stems from ATD’s actions. On the international level, ATD Quart Monde is represented at UNESCO and the United Nations.

From the muddy fields of Noisy-le-Grand an international movement was born. Today, it unites people from five continents and from all walks of life in the work of building a better, poverty-free world.

Artemisszió Foundation

“After years of funding cuts from the government and attacks by state-controlled media, Artemisszió is one of the last remaining organizations that is explicitly promoting pluralism in Hungary. This committed team has created a network of welcoming Hungarians resisting the xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment in the country.”

Joe Clark, former Prime Minister of Canada and Chair of the Global Pluralism Award Jury.

Artemisszió’s Story

Ten European countries have built border fences and walls. Together, they measure six times the length of the Berlin wall. Hungary is currently home to one of these fortified fences. Artemisszió Foundation asks, what if instead of building fences, we built bridges? What if instead of closing our borders, we opened ourselves up to newcomers?

Since its inception in 1998, Artemisszió Foundation promotes the social inclusion of Hungary’s most disadvantaged populations, including youth from underprivileged backgrounds, Roma women, migrants and refugees.

In this context of fear and prejudice, Artemisszió Foundation offers an alternative. Relying on engaged volunteers and operating within an international network, Artemisszió offers internships, volunteer opportunities, mentorships, language training, cooperation with schools, workshops on democracy and media literacy, support for art activism and much more, all in the interest of fostering mutual understanding and tackling exclusion.

Artemisszió’s indispensable work on cultural diversity is currently at risk. The Hungarian government has severely limited the activities of non-governmental organizations, and the foundation’s support from the European Union has been blocked and some of its professional contracts cancelled. As a result, the organization had to limit the intercultural training it offered. This training was provided to health and education professionals, local authorities, law enforcement and social workers to help them understand and better serve disadvantaged communities. In response, Artemisszió has focused on strengthening its community-based programing. Their network, Mira, connects newcomers and locals through mentorship programs, language learning or social activities, such as dinner parties, movie clubs and city tours.

The fence still lines Hungary’s southern border, but there is hope when organizations like Artemisszió are using innovation and optimism to fight against everything that fence stands for. Through decades of engagement, they have built a strong and active network of organizations and individuals who stand against barriers and will continue to work tirelessly, and joyfully, for an open, tolerant society.

In response to a rise in undocumented immigration to Hungary in 2015, populist Prime Minister Viktor Orbán declared a “crisis situation” and built a 170-kilometre-long, electrified border fence. Anti-immigrant rhetoric – propagated by a largely state-controlled media – has also increased in an effort to advance a national identity based on Christianity. Within the last year, legislation criminalizing services and support to migrants and asylum seekers was passed, making it an offense punishable by up to one-year imprisonment. In August of 2018, a 25% tax on foreign funding to any organization “supporting immigration” was introduced. The ensuing withdrawal of funding from the government and European partners has had a significant impact on these organizations.

The Center for Social Integrity

“This award recognizes that change can come from within, and that what started out as a small-scale local initiative, can become a strong and meaningful movement. It is a great achievement to be able to depict Rohingya people advocating for tolerance and pluralism hand-in-hand with other ethnic and religious peoples. I hope that one day, diversity in Myanmar will not only be accepted but celebrated.”

Aung Kyaw Moe, Executive Director, Center for Social Integrity

The Center’s Story

Aung Kyaw Moe dreams of a day when people across his country of Myanmar see diversity as a source of strength, rather than a source of conflict. Inequalities will be addressed and minority groups will finally be included in meaningful ways across social, economic and political spheres.

Armed with this vision, in 2016, Aung Kyaw Moe assembled a diverse team and created the Center for Social Integrity (CSI). Its aim is to develop a non-discriminatory and inclusive society in Myanmar where pluralism is valued. CSI works with youth from conflict-affected regions, giving them the skills and opportunity to build a peaceful, pluralist society.

To build a future free of conflict, CSI is cultivating a generation of young leaders with pluralistic mindsets. CSI provides youth with training on conflict sensitivity, social cohesion and peacebuilding. The only project of its kind in Myanmar, it is often the first opportunity for youth to interact with people from other religions or ethnic groups. Already, these young leaders have become powerful agents for change in their communities, resolving tensions, mediating conflict and spreading respect for diversity.

The organization was founded by Aung Kyaw Moe – a Rohingya humanitarian professional – and CSI’s staff and stakeholders all come from the same regions as its youth participants. This highly localized leadership gives CSI’s staff a deep understanding of the conflicts between different communities and access to communities that other peacebuilding organizations and international NGOs cannot reach. This enables them to work with people who might otherwise be reluctant to engage.

This unique positioning was particularly critical in 2017 when an outbreak of conflict forced nearly 700,000 Rohingya to flee their homes in Myanmar’s North Rakhine State to seek refuge in Bangladesh. CSI was one of only a few organizations with access to the conflict-affected communities, as well as a deep understanding of the longstanding social unrest. In the past, various NGOs and UN agencies have been accused of partiality in their delivery of humanitarian aid, which exacerbated tensions in the area. CSI provided humanitarian aid in a completely impartial manner. Though it was a sensitive endeavour, the organization delivered aid to anyone who needed it, regardless of ethnicity or religion. In just three months, CSI was able to reach 80,000 people. By addressing the human need without prejudice, CSI demonstrated that its compassion does not have limits, and that its respect for human dignity transcends all divisions.

Aung Kyaw Moe understands that in order to build sustainable peace in Myanmar, there needs to be a shift in attitudes around diversity. CSI is making this possible by empowering young leaders from diverse communities to engage in dialogue and become agents of change in their communities. This new generation of pluralistic thinkers can help to build a society that is not just free from harm, but one that is vibrant and cohesive – not despite its diversity, but because of it.

With over 135 different ethnic groups, 110 languages and a wide range of religions, Myanmar is an incredibly diverse country. A British colony for more than 100 years, the nation declared independence in 1948 but was then ruled by a series of authoritarian military governments until 2011. The country’s transition to democracy has been marked by widespread social unrest as well as ethnic and religious persecution. Historic discrimination faced by minority ethnic groups has led to grievances and, ultimately, sectarian violence. The turmoil is considered to be the world’s longest ongoing civil war.

Among the persecuted groups in Myanmar are the Rohingya – a stateless Muslim minority in a heavily Buddhist country. Myanmar’s government denies the Rohingya citizenship, claiming that they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, though many have been there for generations. Bangladesh also denies that they are its citizens. The Rohingya’s movements and access to employment are severely limited. They have suffered mass atrocities at the hands of the military and have been forced to flee.

Community Building Mitrovica

The Team’s Story

In northern Kosovo, the Ibar River splits the city of Mitrovica in two. Ethnic Albanians live in the city’s south, and ethnic Serbs live in the north. Although a bridge connects the two sides, it has become emblematic of conflict, rather than a means to connect. The bridge is patrolled by heavily armed international forces, and vehicular traffic is blocked by piles of concrete rubble. Few pedestrians dare to cross it, and some young people in Mitrovica have never encountered anyone from the other side of the Ibar. Against a backdrop of fear, mistrust and division, Community Building Mitrovica (CBM) works to rebuild community links, facilitate inter-ethnic dialogue and promote social integration.

CBM was established as the first grassroots civil society organization in Mitrovica following the 1998–99 Kosovo War. After opening their doors in 2001, CBM facilitated the first contact between the city’s two groups and have been a leader in the region’s inter-ethnic co-operation ever since. Most of CBM’s work is focussed on providing safe spaces for residents of Mitrovica, both ethnic Serbs and Albanians, to connect and establish relationships based on a shared interest or need.

The organization’s activities have often led to sustainable initiatives that continue for years after a project ends: for example, the multi-ethnic Women in Business network which supports female entrepreneurs; the Mitrovica Women Association for Human Rights which actively promotes women’s participation in peacebuilding; and the Mitrovica Rock School, which, in a nod to the city’s history as a rock music hub, brings Serb, Albanian, Macedonian and Roma youth together to play music. CBM is currently working with the University of Pristina, a public education institution in Kosovo, to establish a master’s program in Peacebuilding and Transitional Justice.

CBM has gone beyond its mandate to connect diverse communities, going above and beyond to empower community members as active participants in decision-making processes for community projects and interventions. The organization has become a reliable information source for international and local organizations working on peacebuilding, human rights, economic development and social cohesion. Through years of building trust with communities on both sides of the Ibar, CBM has changed the mindsets of thousands of citizens and contributed in tangible ways to advancing pluralism in Mitrovica and throughout Kosovo.

Following the 1998–99 war in Kosovo, Serbs moved from the south of Kosovo to the north, while Albanians moved from the north to the south. This division was echoed in Mitrovica, which remained a hot spot for ethnic tension in Kosovo. There was limited interaction between the communities, except when they collided in violent and sometimes deadly conflict. Today, tensions between the two groups remain high. Rioting in October 2021 reignited fears of escalated violence in Mitrovica.

All Out

All Out’s Story

All Out is a connector. When a crisis or opportunity arises, All Out’s international team works with grassroots, frontline LGBT+ groups to come up with inspiring ways to improve the lived experience of LGBT+ people in their societies. They bring local stories to a global audience to unite hundreds of thousands of people from around the world and offer them concrete ways to make a difference—to turn solidarity into action. All Out crafts powerful campaigns to mobilize global support for LGBT+ activists through digital storytelling campaigns that amplify their voices, online petitions that target key decision-makers and crowdfunding campaigns that raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to support local partner initiatives.

All Out’s results are powerful and wide-reaching. Their crowdfunding campaigns paid for food and sanitary supplies for LGBT+ refugees at Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya and the launch of Venezuela’s first centre for LGBT+ people. All Out’s pressure campaigns led to the removal of homophobic stereotypes from school textbooks in China, the altering of derogatory Google-generated translations for the terms “gay” and “homosexual” and the banning of conversion therapy in Germany. In Brazil, which has one of the highest rates of anti-LGBT+ violence in the world, All Out created Acolhe LGBT+ (“Welcome LGBT+”), a platform that connects volunteer psychologists—trained by All Out in caring specifically for LGBT+ people— with survivors of hate crimes and other at-risk members of the LGBT+ community. Through targeted mental health support focussed on dignity and autonomy, the program has given over 1,400 LGBT+ Brazilians, including members of the country’s underserved rural populations, the resources, support and freedom to fully live their identities—and to contribute in crucial ways to their broader communities.

Throughout the world, All Out is changing the conversation around LGBT+ rights. By harnessing the power of a vibrant global community, the organization is replacing narratives of fear and hate with those of the positive economic, social and cultural benefits of full equality for LGBT+ people. Through all its diverse and innovative efforts, All Out is fighting for a world in which no one has to sacrifice their family, freedom, safety or dignity because of who they are or who they love.

In more than 70 countries, it is a crime to be gay, and in 10 countries, it can cost you your life. Even in places where there are no anti-gay laws, LGBT+ people continue to experience violence, persecution and inequality. In every country across the world, LGBT+ individuals face discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Recent years have seen a rollback of LGBT+ rights in the context of rising right-wing populism. Brazil is experiencing a surge in anti-LGBT+ violence, and in the United States, fatal violence against transgender people is on the rise. Across Poland, towns and provinces have declared themselves “LGBT Free Zones,” and new anti-LGBT+ legislation has been proposed in several countries including Hungary, Ghana, Uganda and Russia.

Puja Kapai

“By honouring my work in advancing social justice in relation to race, gender and minority rights this Award renders visible the lived realities of all those who are routinely marginalised and experience systemic exclusion and discrimination”

Puja Kapai

Puja’s Story

Growing up as an ethnic minority in the racially homogenous society of Hong Kong, Puja Kapai faced barriers to education from an early age. Racial segregation in schools was common practice, so Puja enrolled in a public school with a high concentration of ethnic minority students. The school would become one of a handful of designated institutions for ethnic minority children. While her ethnic Chinese counterparts attended Cantonese lessons, a language that would enable them to pursue better jobs in the Hong Kong workforce, Puja was ushered into the music room for self-study sessions along with other ethnic minority students.

Despite this unequal footing, Puja has gone on to become a widely published researcher, lawyer, professor and social justice advocate. She combines in-depth empirical research with grassroots mobilization and advocacy to enact lasting change in Hong Kong. Her comprehensive report on the status of ethnic minorities in Hong Kong brought together extensive data to present—for the first time—how the systemic nature of racial discrimination is embedded across multiple domains, including education, employment and housing. Puja’s work demonstrates the importance of looking at interlocking factors, such as gender, race, age and immigration status, which, in turn, underscores the need for an intersectional approach to understanding the root causes of inequalities in Hong Kong.

Most impactful was Puja’s careful illustration of the detrimental effect segregated schools had on the lives of Hong Kong’s ethnic minorities, resulting in the loss of opportunities and deprivation across multiple domains. She presented this research to the Hong Kong government and to three United Nations treaty bodies reviewing Hong Kong’s obligations relating to racial discrimination, children’s rights and human rights more broadly. In 2014, as a direct result of Puja’s research and advocacy, and in collaboration with local non-governmental organizations leading the work on these issues, the Hong Kong government abolished the official policy designating separate schools for racial minority children, and the government introduced a Chinese Language Curriculum Second Language Learning Framework for public schools.

This is but one example of what a tremendous force for change Puja has become in her society. Her work addresses issues of education, domestic violence, children’s rights, gender-based violence, discrimination based on race, gender, religion and sexual orientation, and unconscious bias. Puja’s work has guided lawmakers, government departments and civil society to develop laws and policies using an intersectional approach, across a range of areas, to ensure equal protection for everyone. She has successfully advocated for the revision of governmental procedural guidelines for handling cases of child abuse, child maltreatment, domestic and sexual violence involving ethnic minorities, as well as the improvement of training programs for police officers handling cases involving ethnic minorities. Her research and advocacy have also led to targeted measures by the government to support ethnic minorities.

Having experienced the harmful effects of exclusion and prejudice first-hand, Puja works tirelessly to advance equal rights for all people in Hong Kong. Whether she is researching, advocating, mobilizing or teaching her students how to recognize and address the social justice issues happening around them, Puja is driven by her knowledge that every Hong Konger deserves equal respect and opportunity, and that her city’s laws and policies will be strengthened by their inclusion and recognition of their equal dignity.

While Hong Kong has a global reputation as an international hub, it is a racially homogenous city, with ethnic Chinese people making up about 92 percent of the population. Ethnic minorities account for 8 percent of Hong Kong’s population. Among them, 4.2 percent are foreign domestic workers on temporary work arrangements under a specific labour scheme, and 3.8 percent are longer-term resident ethnic minorities. Ethnic minorities face limited opportunities, bias and systemic discrimination in many areas, including education, employment, housing and health care. Language barriers exacerbate the structural challenges minorities face. Without an education in Cantonese or Mandarin, ethnic minorities are more likely to work in low-paid positions. Poverty and unequal access to essential social services disproportionately affect these communities.


TOUCHÉ‘s Story

In a large, bright gym in Ghent, Belgium, people of all ages and abilities participate in a boxing lesson. Others join in online. This session is being led by Ismail Abdoul, boxing champion and member of the Belgian social enterprise, Touché. He helps participants with their technique, and encourages them as they jab and hook, practice their footwork or hit the heavy bag. He and his colleagues encourage participants to persevere when things get rough. He invites the participants to think about difficulties they face in their life and to address them with a different perspective. At the end of the session, participants are sweaty and smiling, having connected with friends and released the tensions of the day. As Ismail explains it, these participants are learning to fight in order to fight less. Boxing is one of the many initiatives Touché has developed to bridge gaps between different groups and teach people how to redirect their aggression and anger in positive ways.  

Touché provides psychological and rehabilitative support to people who went through, or who are still going through, a difficult time in their life (e.g. a relationship breakdown, imprisonment, a professional crisis) with a particular emphasis on redirecting aggression toward positive goals and building tools to manage conflict effectively. At the same time, the organization works to shift societal perceptions by emphasizing that anger and aggression are universal.  

Instead of providing constructive, interconnected responses to anger and its causes, society represses it and outsources its management to the criminal justice system, with imprisonment as the symbol of this escalating cycle. This reinforces exclusion, decreasing cognitive-emotional skills and disrupting the social network and safety net of individuals captured within this system. 

Touché began offering solutions-focused therapy in 2007. Today, the organization offers a wide range of programs, from counselling and training, to boxing or stillness sessions, led by a diverse team that includes ex-prisoners. By focusing on a person’s humanity, rather than background, diagnosis, or “problem”, Touché fosters interpersonal connections based on respect and common interests. 

Touché’s work is having a profound impact on individual lives, the wider public and, increasingly, on legislation in Belgium. By creating opportunities for members of traditionally excluded populations to meaningfully contribute their unique skills and perspectives, Touché is building a powerful model for a peaceful, inclusive society that is equipped to respond positively to anger and its causes. 

REFORM: The Palestinian Association for Empowerment and Local Development

REFORM’s Story

At a café in the Palestinian city of Ramallah, young men and women sit in small groups discussing passages from Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. They have come from different communities and backgrounds across Palestine to participate in this Cultural Café activity organized by REFORM: The Palestinian Association for Empowerment and Local Development. Guided by a facilitator, they discuss how the book relates to issues of belonging. Later, they stand up for a lively role-play game inspired by the book, in which each person assumes the role of another. These youth live in the nearby refugee camp, C areas (which are Israeli-controlled zones of the West Bank), the city of Ramallah or the surrounding villages. Encounters between them are extremely important due to the lack of civic space and the tense context of Palestine.  

With movement highly restricted due to the Israeli occupation, there is a lack of democratic process and civic spaces; there are political divides, ongoing violence and economic uncertainty. Palestine is highly volatile and fragmented by stigma and social exclusion. Palestinian youth are increasingly encountering challenges that hinder their participation in social and political spheres. Many women are also marginalized in civic and economic life, while rates of gender-based violence are increasing.  

Founded in 2012 by a group of young activists, REFORM is a Palestinian non-governmental organization working to empower marginalized groups and hard-to-reach communities to engage in social life and influence decision-making. To respond to the complex needs of their society, the Association has developed a wide range of initiatives—from its Access Beyond Borders project, which enhances the social and political participation of stigmatized youth and women from refugee camps, C areas and hard to reach communities, to its Governance and Public Policy Program, which reforms the public policy process to be more inclusive. Other projects increase women’s participation in society through economic opportunities and advocacy efforts. REFORM also trains and equips youth with the tools to transform conflict between groups and political parties, empowering them to respond positively to difference. 

REFORM creates safe spaces for dialogue and connections between different areas and groups in Palestine, including marginalized community members and decision-makers. They are focused on increasing cohesion and solidarity between different Palestinian groups, especially those who are most polarized. Through a unique combination of awareness-raising, capacity-building, training and mentoring, they are enhancing the participation of all members of this diverse society, as a step towards the lasting peace and pluralism they envision for Palestine.