Rebeca Gyumi wins the UN Human Rights Prize

Sunday 16 December 2018

A Tanzanian activist Rebeca Gyumi wins the UN Human Rights Prize. Rebeca who is 31 years of age has made a huge overturn on Tanzania Law of Child marriage that allowed girls as young as 14 years of age to marry.

She has successfully challenged her country's legal system, winning a landmark ruling in 2016 to raise the age of child marriage for girls in Tanzania from 14 to 18; started a foundation to advocate for girls' education; won the UNICEF Global Goal Award and was named 2016 Woman of the Year by New Africa Magazine. Now, she's on her way to New York to collect the 2018 Human Rights Prize awarded by the United Nations.

"I was pretty much shocked. So shocked and caught unaware that I was even considered for such a prestigious prize," she tells CNN.

The United Nations Human Rights Prizes are awards that were instituted by UN General Assembly in 1966. They are intended to "honour and commend people and organizations which have made an outstanding contribution to the promotion and protection of the human rights embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in other United Nationshuman rights instruments".

They were first awarded in 1968, and they have been given out at five-year intervals since then. The award ceremony traditionally takes place on 10 December, which the UN has designated Human Rights Day. The recipients are selected by a special committee comprising the presidents of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council and the chairs of the Commission on Human Rights, the Commission on the Status of Women, and the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights.

The physical token of the award is a metal plaque bearing the UN seal and an artistic design, and engraved with an appropriate citation. In contrast to the Nobel prizes – and the list of prizewinners shares much common ground with the Nobel Peace Prize in particular – the UN's awards are non-monetary in nature.