The Freedom Prize invites young people aged 15 to 25 in France and around the world, to reward each year a person or an organization engaged in an exemplary fight in favor of freedom. The online vote open to 15-25 year olds around the world to elect the 2021 Freedom Prize closed on April 26. Sonita Alizadeh, 25 years old, rapper born in Afghanistan, committed against forced marriage, was named the laureate of this third edition of the Freedom Prize thanks to the votes of more than 5,000 young people from all over the world.
Sonita Alizadeh, Afghan-born rapper committed to forced marriage
Sonita Alizadeh is a rapper who was born in Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. At the age of 9, her parents planned to sell her as a bride but because of the war, her family fled to Iran and the planned marriage fell through. In Teheran, an NGO provided her with access to education and a cleaning job. When Sonita stumbled upon a song by the rapper Eminem, it is a real breakthrough. She began writing to tell her story and to speak out against forced marriage and the plight of millions of children around the world. Her first single, “Brides for Sale” garnered worldwide attention. Having moved to the United States, she now studies law to become a lawyer and to return to her country to defend Afghan women and children.
The Freedom Prize was awarded in 2019 to Greta Thunberg for her fight for climate justice and to Loujain Al Hathloul in 2020 for her fight for women's rights in Saudi Arabia.
The Freedom Prize, an educational project in 3 stages promoting the involvement of young people from one end of the process to the other
The Freedom Prize is an initiative of the Normandy Region in partnership with the International Institute for Human Rights and Peace, the academic authorities of Normandy and Canopé.
This system invites young people aged 15 to 25 in France and around the world to nominate each year a person or an organization engaged in an exemplary fight in favor of freedom.
The 2021 edition was structured around 3 main stages:
- The call for proposals "Our Freedom 2021 Prize", launched on June 18, 2020 and closed on January 18, 2021, was very popular this year with 370 applications (against 258 in 2020) sent by nearly 1,400 young people aged 15 to 25 years from all over the world.
- The deliberations of the international panel of judges composed of 30 young people from 17 countries: Germany, Spain, France, Nicaragua, Ivory Coast, Morocco, Italy, Canada, the Netherlands, the 'Argentina, India, United States, Poland, Ukraine, Niger, Mexico and Jordan. Chaired by Nadia Khiari alias Willis from Tunis, the jury met from February 10 to 13 by videoconference to nominate the 3 nominees: Sonita Alizadeh, Agnes Chow and Omar Radi.
- An online vote, open from March 15 to April 25, 2021, to young people aged 15 to 25, of any nationality.
5683 voters from 86 different countries and 5 continents of the world were recorded.
Throughout the process, the International Institute of Human Rights and Peace has conducted workshops on human rights education and democratic citizenship around themes related to freedom and citizenship in several schools and associative structures in Normandy, in other regions of France and internationally (Canada, Germany, Argentina, Macedonia). More information here.
Discover the reaction of Nadia Khiari alias Willis from Tunis, president of the international jury for the Freedom Prize 2021
"I am proud to accompany the youth jury for the Prix Liberté. It is essential to sensitize the young generation to the defense of freedoms whatever they may be and to involve them in the construction of equality and the rights of every woman and man in the world. This requires awareness and teaching of what is happening elsewhere but also in France. Young people need to be heard because they are just like adults, victims of suffering and indifference."