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Press Release: Sister Simone Campbell Receives Major International Award

FOR RELEASE: November 30, 2012

CONTACT: Stephanie Niedringhaus, 202-347-9797 x224,

Washington DC: NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, is proud to announce that Sister Simone Campbell, our Executive Director, has been named a recipient of the “2012 Defender of Democracy Award” by the Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA), an international organization of legislators from 120 parliaments. According to a statement released by the PGA, she is receiving the award “for her distinguished advocacy and commitment to economic justice and peacebuilding.”

Sister Campbell will be traveling to Rome, Italy, where she will receive the award at the Italian Senate on the evening of December 10.

She was nominated for the award by Dip. Minou Tavárez Mirabal, a Member of Parliament from the Dominican Republic, who is also a member of PGA's Executive Committee. She said, “I proposed her for the 2012 Defender of Democracy Awards because I think that democracy must be defended in every possible way, from every possible space, and she has been doing it… in a clear, firm, courageous and lucid way.  It was for me a great satisfaction that my proposal was accepted since she was competing with other candidates, [including] distinguished defenders of freedom and justice around the world."

In receiving the Defender of Democracy Award, Sister Campbell joins a long list of courageous justice-seekers, including this year’s co-recipient, Ms. Khady Koita, honored for her commitment to women’s rights and work to halt human rights violations. She survived a difficult childhood that included female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage to found the Senegalese-Belgian organization “La Palabre,” which works for women and children by, for example, opposing FGM, forced marriage and “honour” violence.

Former recipients of the Defender of Democracy Award include:

  • Dr. Nafis Sadik (Pakistan), physician and then Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General and Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (2006). Most recently, she spoke out forcefully against the attack on Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani girl who was shot because she championed education for girls.
  • Mrs. Mary Robinson (Ireland), President of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative (2005). Former President of Ireland and United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights.
  • Sra. Estela Barnes de Carlotto (Argentina), Las Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo (2000), whose daughter was kidnapped and murdered by the military in Argentina.
  • The Hon. Bella S. Abzug (1998), awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award.

On learning that she had received this year’s award, Sister Campbell responded that she was “humbled and honored.”

Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA) — a “non-profit, non-partisan international network of approximately 1,000 legislators in 120 elected parliaments around the globe, aims to promote peace, democracy, the rule of law, human rights, sustainable development and population issues by informing, convening, and mobilizing parliamentarians to realize these goals.”

NETWORK—a Catholic leader in the global movement for justice and peace—educates, organizes and lobbies for economic and social transformation. Founded in 1971 by 47 Catholic sisters, NETWORK is supported by thousands of groups and individuals