French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday awarded the inaugural Simone Veil Prize to Cameroonian women’s rights activist Aissa Doumara Ngatansou, who runs an association to help victims of rape and forced marriages in her home country.
Speaking in front of a large portrait of Veil, the late Auschwitz survivor known for her battle to make abortion legal in France, Doumara said she accepted the award with “a lot of emotion”.
The 46-year-old dedicated the prize to “all women victims of violence and forced marriages, to all those who have escaped from Boko Haram.”
The ceremony marked the 42nd International Women’s Day and the award was created in tribute to the life and work of Veil, who died in 2017, aged 89.
The Simone Veil prize is worth 100,000 euros ($112,000).
Macron, hailed Doumara for “her commitment of over 20 years in the service of women, carried out in silence, sometimes in disapproval.”
This is an example of courage, of challenging the weight of legacies,” he added.