Inaugural Empower Women Award Winners Announced

Province Recognizes Exceptional Community Leaders Through the Pandemic: Cox

The Manitoba government is recognizing two women who have made significant contributions during the pandemic by awarding the inaugural Empower Women Award, Sport, Culture and Heritage Minister Cathy Cox, minister responsible for the status of women, announced at a special event yesterday.

“The tremendous contributions each of these women has made to our province during this unprecedented time is outstanding,” said Cox. “Manitobans are forever grateful for the dedication, compassion and commitment of these women in improving the health and well-being of their community and in our province. I also want to commend the nominees, whose work ranges from health care to community volunteerism, trades and engineering, and social services. I am confident that Manitobans will benefit from their leadership and passion to build a healthier and stronger province for all.”

Two deserving Manitoba women, one adult and one youth, were honoured with the 2021 Empower Women Award, noted Cox. The award winners were selected based on the overall strength of their nomination as well as community involvement and intersectionality of their efforts, along with addressing systemic issues, lasting change and scale of response.

The winners of the 2021 Empower Women Award are Divya Sharma (youth) and Lorie English (adult).

Sharma is a determined, driven young woman with a passion for giving back to her community, the minister noted. Sharma is a strong voice and leader in her high school and is the youngest member of the Asian Women of Winnipeg board. After seeing the challenges that frontline workers faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, Sharma collaborated with various organizations across the country and has helped to provide over 16,000 care packages to health-care workers, first responders and essential services workers to date.

English is the executive director of the West Central Women’s Resource Centre and is well-known as a strong advocate for supports for housing, poverty reduction and the critical work needed to end gender-based violence, noted the minister. From the onset of the pandemic, English and her team quickly responded to the changing needs of the community and the members they serve and adjusted their services to include mobile outreach, food hampers and COVID-19 immunization pop-up clinics.

In March 2020, the minister announced the creation of the Empower Women Award. Less than a week later, the first case of COVID-19 was identified in Manitoba and put plans for the award on hold. The Manitoba government relaunched the awards this year with the focus on recognizing the significant contributions made by women and girls during the pandemic. Manitoba has seen numerous examples of women and youth who have taken charge and made positive change within their communities in response to the pandemic, noted the minister.

For more information about the Empower Women Awards, including information about the winners and other nominees, visit https://www.gov.mb.ca/msw/empower_awards.html.

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