French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday gave the first Simone Veil Prize to Aissa Doumara Ngatansou of Cameroon, where she runs an association to help victims of rape and forced marriages.
Speaking in front of a large portrait of Veil, the late Auschwitz survivor renowned for her battle to have abortion made legal in France while health minister in 1975, Doumara said she accepted the award with “a lot of emotion”.
The ceremony marked the 42nd International Women’s Day and the award was created in tribute to the life and work of Veil who died in 2017, aged 89, and became just the fifth woman to be laid to rest in the Pantheon in Paris, with her husband.
The prize is worth 100,000 euros ($112,000).
Doumara dedicated her award to “all women victims of violence and forced marriages, to all those who have escaped from Boko Haram,” the armed Islamist movement active in northeast Nigeria and across neighbouring borders.