The Nelson Rohilhalha Mandela prize is awarded to Marianna V. Vardinoyannis to recognize the achievement of 30 years fighting child cancer through her two Foundations dedicated to children: she gave one Foundation her name, and the other is ELPIDA Friends’ Association of Children with cancer.
Marianna V. Vardinoyannis shares this prize with Dr Morissanda Kouyaté of Guinea who was rewarded for his commitment to end Female Genital Mutilations. This esteemed prize was established in 2015 to recognize the achievements of two persons one male and one female laureates from different geographic regions who dedicated their lives to the service of humanity, as guided by the purpose and principles of the United Nations, while honoring and paying homage to Mandela’s extraordinary life and legacy of reconciliation, political transition and social transformation.
This prestigious prize awarded to Marianna V. Vardinoyannis honours the entire family of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors. This tireless activist for the rights of children and disadvantaged groups is also committed on a daily basis to promoting peace, education and the preservation of cultural heritage.
In her remarks during the General Assembly which recognized the 2020 Mandela Prize laureates at the meeting marking Mandela Day, Marianna V. Vardinoyannis stated: “I learned a lot from Nelson Mandela’s example, his fighting spirit, his passion, his determination, his courage and his ideas. In our life, we need inspiration and examples, to give us strength and inner power to go on. Nelson Mandela was my inspiration and I was deeply moved when he was appointed UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. For me, he was more than a leader and a visionary. He was, and will always be, a universal symbol of humanism”.
Marianna V. Vardinoyannis has been a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador since 1999, working in this capacity to do considerable humanitarian work. She has contributed to UNESCO’s many projects and programmes over the years and the leadership of Nelson Mandela, who was also a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador from 2005 to his death in 2013, has been a source of inspiration for all her actions. This award is therefore a double source of pride for UNESCO.