The Global Centre for Pluralism on Wednesday night announced the 10 finalists for its 2023 Global Pluralism Award. India Love Project, a storytelling initiative to promote interfaith, intercaste and LGBTQ+ relationships, is the sole Indian project on the shortlist.
The other 2023 finalists are based in Belgium, Brazil, Cameroon, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Palestine, South Africa, and the US. The finalists were chosen from 200 submissions from 60 countries, and all of them are working to strengthen pluralism in their societies by running programmes and projects in a range of disciplines, from peacebuilding to translation, social enterprise, sport therapy, storytelling and technology.
Three winners and seven honourable mention recipients will be announced in October and recognized at a ceremony to be held in November in Ottawa, Canada. Each winner will receive a prize of CAD$50,000 (about Rs. 30 lakh) to further their work in support of pluralism.
The Global Pluralism Award recognizes pluralism in action, and is presented every other year to individuals, organisations, governments and businesses from around the world. It celebrates inspiring work that is helping to build more inclusive societies where diversity is valued and protected. The Award is conferred by the Global Centre for Pluralism, an independent, charitable organization founded by the Aga Khan and the Canadian government of Canada with support from the TD Bank Group.
India Love Project was shortlisted for “countering prejudice by sharing positive stories of love and marriage that defy the traditional boundaries of faith, caste, ethnicity, and gender”, a media release observed. India Love Project was launched in 2020 by senior journalists Niloufer Venkatraman, Samar Halarnkar and Priya Ramani. Its Instagram account shares real-life love stories and non-traditional unions, creating a safe space online for interfaith, inter-caste, inter-ethnic and LGBTQ+ couples to celebrate their love and find community. Offline, the organization has been connecting couples with pro bono lawyers and counsellors to support their unions when faced with legal challenges.
“The creativity, courage and commitment shown by this year’s finalists is important at this moment,” said Meredith Preston McGhie, Secretary General of the Global Centre for Pluralism. “At a time of increasing polarization globally, it is critical to magnify the impacts of pluralism leaders who are creating more inclusive and peaceful societies where diversity is valued.”
The other finalists are: Build Up (Kenya/US), which works with peacebuilding institutions; Deeyah Khan (Norway/US), a documentary filmmaker countering extremism; Esther Omam (Cameroon), a peacebuilder, mediator and human rights defender; the Global Interfaith Network for People of All Sexes, Sexual Orientations, Gender Identities and Expressions - GIN-SSOGIE (South Africa), which supports LGBTQ+ people and advocates to end violence against sexual and gender minorities; Lea Baroudi (Lebanon), a peace mediator using art to provide Lebanese youth the opportunity to build a future outside of extremism; Politize! Civic Education Institute (Brazil), a non-partisan organization tackling polarization in Brazil; Red de Intérpretes y Promotores Interculturales Asociación Civil (Mexico), an indigenous youth collective in Oaxaca, Mexico tackling exclusion; REFORM: The Palestinian Association for Empowerment and Local Development (Palestine), a non-governmental organization building solidarity between groups in Palestine; and Touché (Belgium), a social enterprise providing support to current and former prisoners.
Jury chair Dr. Marwan Muasher of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said: “The award finalists have made outstanding contributions to fostering pluralism in some of the world’s most challenging contexts. They are strengthening their communities by helping to build a foundation of mutual respect, cooperation and shared purpose.”