PRESS RELEASE

For More Information Contact:

Zahra Aziz, Communications & Marketing Manager, Americans for UNFPA
zaziz@americansforunfpa.org, Telephone: +1 646.649.9110 (office), +1 917.696.6181 (mobile)

Honorees from Guatemala and the Palestinian Territories are selected as winners of the
2010 Americans for UNFPA International Award for the Health and Dignity of Women

Angeline Martyn, representative from Americans for UNFPA visits Guatemala
to announce Award July 19-24th, 2010

New York, NY- July 16, 2010- Women from Guatemala and the Palestinian Territories will be honored this year by Americans for UNFPA for their efforts to elevate the status of women in their communities. Rewarding individuals for their dedication and perseverance, the Americans for UNFPA International Award for the Health and Dignity of Women also shines a light within the U.S. on the overwhelming problems women face worldwide.

Americans for UNFPA is a non-profit organization that works to raise awareness and support within the United States for UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund’s life saving work in 150 countries around the world.

The 2010 Americans for UNFPA International Honorees are:

  • Marta Julia Ruiz of Guatemala: for her commitment to helping women and girls understand their health and rights to enable them to make informed decisions about their health and future.
  • Feeza Shraim, The Palestinian Territories for her commitment to saving the lives of mothers, by providing quality and timely health care in the Gaza Strip.

The 2010 Honorees receive a $5,000 USD grant to support their in-country programs at the Americans for UNFPA Gala on October 7, 2010 in New York City. During a week of activities in the U.S, Ms. Ruiz and Ms. Shraim will share their experiences and accomplishments with American audiences to build global understanding of and support for women’s health and rights.

“With the support of UNFPA, outstanding women in countries around the world are dedicating their lives to ensure that women in their community are empowered and offered life chances that are otherwise a distant dream,” says Anika Rahman, President, Americans for UNFPA. “This award allows us to share the strategies, successes and the urgency to improve women’s lives in one community, and these stories have the power to impact and inspire both American audiences and women around the world.”

With UNFPA funds, the honorees combat some of the most intractable problems facing women around the world:


Marta Julia Ruiz (Guatemala) draws on her personal experiences as an indigenous Guatemalan to help improve the personal, academic and economic development of adolescent girls. Dr. Ruiz supports unique girls empowerment initiatives for the Population Council. Through woman to girl mentoring programs, girls 8-18 learn how to maximize their potential.

In Dr. Ruiz’s community, most indigenous girls start school late and withdraw by age 12 to adhere to their family responsibilities of un-paid domestic or agricultural work. Dr. Ruiz works with families and her community to obtain support for girls education and empowerment. Her program includes leadership and advocacy training alongside basic life skills to help lift these Mayan girls out of poverty. Her success is fueled by her deep understanding of cultural dynamics and indigenous struggles.
Dr. Ruiz is a medical doctor with a specialization in public health and reproductive health. She is committed to helping women and girls understand their health and rights to enable them to make informed decisions about their health and future.

Feeza Shraim (The Palestinian Territories) is a midwife, a mother of thirteen and the primary breadwinner for her family in the Palestinian Territories. At the age of 12, after helping her own mother deliver a baby, she knew that becoming a midwife was her life calling. While raising her family she obtained her bachelor degree and began working in a maternity ward. Today, Mrs. Shraim leads efforts to support mothers and newborns in the Gaza Strip.

Over the last few years, due to conflict, many roads leading to hospitals were closed or inaccessible. Mrs. Shraim set up an ad-hoc delivery room within a local clinic, and obtained basic medical equipment to provide and ensure safe deliveries for the pregnant mothers. During the most recent crisis in Gaza she left her family to set up a second clinic, working around the clock to support 53 safe deliveries over 21 days.

Ms. Shraim is committed to saving the lives of mothers, by providing quality and timely health care. She is working tirelessly to achieve her goal of healthy mothers, children, qualified midwives and quality service.

Awarded annually, this award recognizes two people who have made exemplary contributions to women’s health (i.e. safe motherhood, family planning, HIV prevention) and/or the promotion of women’s rights (i.e. prevention of gender-based violence, promotion of education for women/girls). Honorees must currently work for a program that is supported by UNFPA, as a volunteer or paid staff. These women will be honored alongside three American honorees.


UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, provides women's health care and promotes the rights of women around the world. Americans for UNFPA is dedicated to building American support for the work of UNFPA and to restoring the United States' moral, political and financial contribution to the organization.