Hilton Humanitarian Prize Laureate Series

Record forced displacement; growing inequality; catastrophic natural disasters exacerbated by climate change; the fallout from a once-in-a generation global pandemic; and protracted armed conflicts raging on multiple fronts — with this context, we'll ask whether the humanitarian system that exists today is fit for purpose? This series brings together thought leaders from around the world to discuss these pressing humanitarian issues, and to look at the ways we must build our future together, as well as the unique paradigm shift required to make the shifting and sharing of power to communities a reality.

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Future of Humanitarian Action

The Hilton Foundation and Devex hosted a virtual online conversation series under the theme The Future of Humanitarian Action: The Power of Communities.

Conversation 1: The power of girls' education and women’s leadership to transform communities, countries and economies.

October 28, 2021 - 10 am ET/ 4pm CET

Over 11 million girls may not go back to school after the COVID-19 crisis, according to UNESCO. These young women and girls do not only face structural barriers to their education rooted in poverty, but also in gender inequality and child, early and forced marriage.

However, women-led peer networks can play an important role in protecting vulnerable girls and ensuring their rights are respected. There is tremendous power to be harnessed in local women leaders who can change the status quo from within. So how do we support them?

This event, hosted by Devex in partnership with the Hilton Foundation, will explore how the power of communities can help keep girls in school and ensure that future generations can, in turn, become future leaders – inspiring young girls to pursue the education needed to improve their economic, social, and political power. Together with global and local leaders with lived experiences around these issues, we’ll also draw attention to what must be done to scale their impact and support these organizations to reach even more girls.

Conversations will draw on the far-reaching ripple effects of education – from decreasing child, early and forced marriages to encouraging women entrepreneurs – and highlight why we need to invest more in women-led communities to support the local and sustainable change needed to break cycles of poverty for women everywhere.


Dr. Shungu Gwarinda, Director of Programmes of the Graça Machel Trust

Fadzi Whande, Senior Diversity & Inclusion Adviser, Executive Direction and Management, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Angeline Murimirwa, Executive Director - Africa, CAMFED

Moderator: Kate Warren, Executive Vice President, Devex


Conversation 2: Good governance for girls’ education: Creating an enabling environment.

November 17, 2021 - 10 am ET/ 4pm CET

When institutions crumble, so does often girls’ access to education. Girls’ education is a two-way street; missing out on school does long-term damage, not only to each girl, but also to the prospects of their communities and countries. We know girls are more at risk of having their education disrupted by poverty, conflict, epidemics or a pandemic like COVID-19, and millions – particularly adolescent girls – may never return to school as a result.

Yet, girls who do receive a quality education are more likely to delay marriage and childbirth and to have greater income and productivity – the basis for breaking the vicious cycles of poverty needed to foster peace and stability. While policies protecting and promoting equality in education might exist, more effective implementation is needed to not only guarantee access, but also ensure quality education – including secondary education, which oftentimes isn’t accessible to the most vulnerable.

So how can keeping more girls in school help support good governance? This event, hosted by Devex in partnership with the Hilton Foundation, will shine a light on the many interconnected ways that girls’ education and women’s leadership can help support the creation of more peaceful, equitable, and prosperous communities.

Discussions will explore how girls’ education can help support good governance and the enabling environment needed to ensure no girl misses out on school even in conflict affected areas, and the ways it can support stable and peaceful societies.


Jo Bourne, Chief Technical Officer, Global Partnership for Education

Diana Ayala, Lead, CEAAL Youth Group in Honduras, and GPE Youth Leader

Sarah Brown, Chair, Theirworld

Barbara Chilangwa, Executive Advisor – Government Relations, CAMFED

Lydia Wilbard, National Director, CAMFED Tanzania

Moderator: Rumbi Chakamba, Associate Editor, Devex


Conversation 3: Girls’ education and women’s leadership as drivers of climate resilience.

November 30, 2021 - 10 am ET/ 4pm CET

Climate change often affects the most vulnerable first – they are the ones most likely to feel the long-term devastating impacts of natural hazards or extreme weather events such as floods, droughts, or hurricanes.

Gender discrimination means that girls and young women living in poverty are often the ones paying the highest price for destroyed crops, flooded property, and other kinds of disruptions to their families’ livelihoods brought about by the impacts of climate change. When a disaster strikes, these girls and women are often at risk of having their education disrupted, and also face an increased risk of child, early and forced marriage, according to Brookings Institution.

Yet, women are often on the frontlines of community efforts to tackle the effects of climate change, and are integral to building climate resilience and adaptation efforts. Therefore, ensuring that girls stay in school can in and of itself prove a powerful tool to tackle climate change, while addressing the underlying inequalities making them increasingly vulnerable to its devastating effects. For example, estimates suggest that together with access to family planning, girls’ education has the potential of avoiding nearly 85 gigatons of carbon emissions by 2050.

This event, hosted by Devex in partnership with the Hilton Foundation, will explore how investing in girl’s education can help increase their resilience to climate change, but also how it can play a key role in fostering girls’ climate leadership and climate action.


Fiona Mavhinga, Executive Advisor, CAMFED Association

Komal Narayan, Climate Activist and Volunteer, Alliance for Future Generations

Christina Kwauk, Nonresident Fellow - Global Economy and Development, Center for Universal Education, Brookings

Beth Roberts, Director, Center for Women’s Land Rights, Landesa


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Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

International hotelier Conrad N. Hilton established the grantmaking foundation that bears his name in 1944 to help people living in poverty and experiencing disadvantage worldwide. Today, the work continues, concentrating on efforts to improve early childhood development outcomes, support older youth as they transition from foster care, ensure opportunity youth can access career pathways, prevent homelessness, identify solutions to safe water access, help integrate refugees into society and lift the work of Catholic sisters. Additionally, following selection by an independent, international jury, the Foundation annually awards the $2.5 million Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize to an organization doing extraordinary work to reduce human suffering. The Foundation is one of the world’s largest, with assets recently growing to approximately $7.5 billion. It has awarded grants to date totaling more than $2 billion, $207 million worldwide in 2020.