One day several months ago we had the idea to launch the first Divine Women Awards. It was born of a conversation with Ingle & Rhode, one of the first licencees of Fairtrade and Fairmined gold in the UK – and we wanted together to do something to acknowledge the centenary of International Women’s Day. We got to talking about celebrating women’s achievements – women who are doing amazing things against the odds and beyond the call of duty. So the journey began…
Working with Given, the great communications team, Asi Sharabi our social media consultant and his colleagues and Ingle & Rhode we established the criteria for the Award, got it all set up beautifully on Facebook, received the support of campaigner and Eco-Age Director Livia Firth - and opened up for nominations.
And then we started hearing about these incredible women. Women who turn extremely challenging personal situations into positive outcomes for other people. Women who battle red tape, funding cuts, and a hundred disadvantages to create something others can share and benefit from. The sort of optimism, determination, vision and perseverence that most of us can only dream of. The sort of women I imagine David Cameron is depending on to create a Big Society, but without any funding.
Our shortlist of six finalists were from all over the country and had made their mark in very different ways. Meeting them at the lovely Gore Hotel at our Award ceremony last week was a real privilege – together in one room we had enough ‘can do’ mentality to tackle world peace. Carline Ikoroha – our outright winner – is indomitable. She is an inclusion mentor at a primary school in North London - working closely with children and their families – but beyond that she gives up her spare time to creating inclusive environments for children who for many reasons are missing out. From running a breakfast club to a local choir, and fighting to keep the local library open – she is proactively changing lives and giving children self-respect and a sense of achievement. It was great to be able to give her the beautiful gold pendant made especially for her by Ingle & Rhode in the shape of the Mpatap Adinkra symbol she chose - meaning Reconciliation, Peace & Harmony.
The warmth and sisterhood in the room was palpable – crowned by Livia Firth who, in joining the judges and presenting the Award, again showed her fantastic support for Divine, and made each finalist feel very special.
Sophi Tranchell, Divine’s MD, introduced our ceremony saying “Women have always been an inspiration to Divine – from the empowered women cocoa farmers of Kuapa Kokoo, the cooperative that owns Divine, to the amazing women amongst the activists and supporters that have campaigned for us, and the chocolate lovers who have discovered Divine and have made it their favourite.”
We hope this is just the start of something really great – and very Divine. To read more about all the finalists read our news here.