UNHCR NGO Innovation Award 2022

Strengthening local responses led by Women-Led Organisations (WLOs)


The UNHCR NGO Innovation Award (“the Award”) celebrates efforts and achievements of NGOs who developed innovative approaches for protection and delivery of services to refugees and other persons of concern to UNHCR.

UNHCR, via this Award, wishes to identify and recognize  new and creative approaches that can result in better protection and delivery of service to refugees and other persons of concern to UNHCR; and amplify the acts of solidarity and innovation in an age of uncertainty and disruption.

The Award 2022

The 2022 Award focused on women-led organizations and girl-led organizations (WLOs) working with or supporting refugees, internally displaced persons, returnees, stateless persons and host communities. The Award prioritized the organizations created or led by refugees and other persons of concern to UNHCR, but was also open to other community-based women-led organizations working in a forced displacement context. This focus on women-led organizations sought to award organizations that hold strong organizational values, principles, and commitments to gender equality and accountability to women and girls, as well as those that promote women in positions of leadership.

Winners were selected based on four criteria:

They are women-led or girl-led

They are working in a forced displacement context

They work at the local, grassroot level

They have developed innovative approaches in their work


Overview of the winners of the 2022 NGO Innovation Award

Quinta Ola, Peru

Founded by three women, Quinta Ola, is a Women-Led organization, based in Lima, whose purpose is to promote, defend and ensure the rights of girls, adolescents and women. Quinta Ola achieves this via the development of educational, communication, cultural, advocacy and research activities. Quinta Ola’s work focuses on the empowerment of Venezuelan girls, building their leadership skills, connecting them to networks and supporting their integration into Peruvian society. In 2021, Quinta Ola developed a free training program “Chamas in Action: Sisters without Borders” that targeted 50 Venezuelan migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, girls and adolescents, and offered 11 virtual mentoring sessions, 6 thematic talks, and 10 workshops to develop their social initiatives. Chamas in Action also offered the chance to participate in relevant events, initiatives and campaigns at national and international level. The Chamas in Action program invites parents and relatives of the participants to participate in integration activities with the parents and relatives of Peruvian adolescent activists. In this way, “Families without Borders” is formed, where Peruvian and Venezuelan families work together to create their own initiatives for social change.

Tanma Federation, Malaysia

Established in 2010, Tanma Federation is a community based and women-led organization founded by Burmese refugee women, operating in Malaysia. The Tanma Federation aims to build solidarity amongst women, protect women artisans’ rights as workers and empower women. The WLO seeks to address challenges refugee women often encounter to develop their entrepreneurial initiatives in Malaysia, mainly due to their legal status, gender inequalities, and language barriers amongst other obstacles. The Tanma Federation supports refugee women’s entrepreneurship by creating safe spaces that will allow women to work, learn and develop relevant skills, in business and fair trading, through the creation of handcrafted products, sewing, organizing English language classes, stress management, etc, to generate income and support their families.  In addition, the Tanma Federation also runs alternative learning centers for children from their refugee communities, such as the CWO learning center and the Mang Tha nursery, where more than 100 children receive education and food assistance.

Hope Foundation, Uganda

Hope Foundation is a Women Refugee-Led Organization (RLO) in Arua, Uganda, protecting and empowering women and girls in the Imvepi Refugee Settlement against Gender-Based Violence. Women and girls are disproportionally affected by the COVID-19 pandemic with high rate of school dropouts due to prolonged school closures, sexual exploitation, teenage pregnancies, child and forced marriage, and transactional sex. To address these challenges, Hope Foundation developed a sexual and reproductive health course and trainings, to prevent, mitigate and respond to the violence experienced by women and girls in the settlement. Workshops were conducted on birth control measures, personal safeguarding techniques to prevent rape and defilement, menstrual hygiene management, information on Sexually Transmitted Diseases, personal hygiene and cross-generational sex, amongst other relevant topics. In addition, Hope Foundation advocates for education of girls and development through sports. A Refugee Sports Grant has been created to support the best female football players by paying either their primary or secondary school fees. There are 30 girls benefiting from this grant.

The Lotus Flower, Iraq

Created in 2016, the Lotus Flower is a local, community-based and women-led organization, responding to the emerging needs of women internally displaced, refugees and host communities in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The Lotus Flower’s work focuses on Gender-Based Violence (GBV) with inclusion of men and boys in their response, mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS), education, livelihoods, peacebuilding and women empowerment across all pillars. In spring 2019, The Lotus Flower, with the support of Care International, launched the Women’s Business Incubator (WBI), a program that provides small business training, mentorship, and seed funding for women-owned business ventures. The inclusion criteria for the pilot program placed an emphasis on female-headed households, single mothers, and survivors of ISIS violence. Other livelihood projects include farming, baking, sewing and becoming boxing instructors in self-defense, storytelling via photography, and the Lotus Flower Café, a social enterprise for women survivors. The Lotus Flower impacted over 40,000 women and girls in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

Femme Main dans la Main pour le Développement Intégral (FMMDI), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

Created in 2012, Femme Main dans la Main pour le Développement intégral, FMMDI, is a Women -Led organisation (WLO) that provides psychosocial, socio-economic care, legal and judicial support for internally displaced persons and returnees surviving and/or at-risk of Gender-Based Violence in DRC. From 2016 to 2018, during the conflict that affected the five territories of Kasai Central province, thousands of women were raped. Accused of committing adultery, these women were simply chased out of their respective homes in application of a customary practice in the region that considers any sexual relationship by a married woman outside the wedlock as adultery (Tshibindi), regardless of the circumstances. In order to reintegrate their communities and their marital home, they must pay a fine (“Tshibawu”) imposed by the custom. With rare determination, the NGO stood up against this customary practice that is demeaning to women. To address the challenges in this regard, FMMDI initiated an integrated advocacy with customary leaders and other key local actors in society to abandon harmful traditional practices against survivors of rape. To get started, FMMDI established a network of customary leaders with an action plan to engage the community in the fight against GBV across all levels. To date, 138 traditional leaders, guardians of tradition and customary practices have signed the commitment act and in so doing renounced these customary practices that are degrading to women. A high-level workshop on Gender- based Violence under the authority of the National Minister of Gender in February 2022 in the Province of Kasai Central, served as an opportunity for the Governor of the Kasai Central Province to promulgate three provincial laws, one of which relates to the prohibition of customs degrading women and girls in the province of Kasai Central that takes into consideration the customary practices of “Tshibindu” and “Tshibawu”. FMMDI played a major role in the advocacy efforts of humanitarian actors that led to this tangible result. The unprecedented advocacy with the customary leaders, authorities and other key actors in society culminated in the improved protection of women and girls and the restoration of their dignity. FMMDI aimed at establishing a peer support platform for resource mobilization, advocacy, and the creation of a critical mass of support for prevention and access to GBV services.

PLACE Network, France

PLACE’s mission is to promote refugee-led innovation and showcase the contribution of newcomer talent to local economies. The PLACE Network believes European societies need more and stronger voices from refugee and migrant communities and by highlighting their contributions in key economic sectors, they aim to shift the perspective of refugees as a burden to a unique asset for the development and growth of Europe. The PLACE Network focuses on four sectors: business, entrepreneurship and public leadership, as well as media and arts. Their activities include pop-up innovation labs, which have taken place in Paris, London and Berlin, public events and retreats, online fellowships, hackathons, training of trainers, upskilling and matching with employers, exhibitions and more. The Place Network has also launched the Fast Forward online fellowship for women of refugee and migrant backgrounds to access the Advanced Course in Innovation and Leadership, in partnership with École des Ponts Business School and certified by L’Oréal. Since 2020, 30 women with refugee and migrant backgrounds are selected every year to bring their unique experience and capacity to the next level through cutting-edge learning techniques and project-based experience. The key purpose is to equip them with a new set of leadership skills to access meaningful careers. Towards the end of their fellowship, the learners reach out in turn to other women around them who are further from the labour market, to run empowerment workshops and help them project themselves into meaningful employment. In 2021, the aim was for these 30 learners to reach 150 women. This is the Catalyst model, at the core of PLACE’s action: newcomers defining their own vision of success and creating empowered, economically and socially active communities that showcase leadership in different sectors.

Endam Home of Hope, Nigeria

Based in Nigeria, Endam Home of Hope is a refugee and women-led organization (WLO) supporting refugees and internally displaced people that continue to experience gender-based violence risks and protection issues. Endam Home of Hope seeks to address negative coping mechanisms, provides shelter and food assistance to vulnerable groups and ensures women, men, girls and boys of diverse backgrounds are meaningfully engaged in protection assistance and solutions. In addition, through workshops and campaigns with international agencies, the WLO highlights issues of sexual and reproductive health, including family planning, sexually transmitted infections, protection from sexual exploitation and abuse.

Past Awards