On the 18th of April 2016, Office of The Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson together with National Equality and Diversity Forum organised National Equality and Diversity Awards 2015 during which individual people, organisations and initiatives who contributed the most in equality and diversity in 2015 were honoured. The Award ceremony was held in the premises of Lithuanian National Philharmonic Society.
Individual people, organizations, various initiatives, projects, ideas and acts which contributed to the promotion and advancement of equality and diversity were awarded in these 9 categories:
Gender Equality Award
CIVIC INITIATIVE „WOMEN SPEAK“. To the group of young feminists for the courage to share stories about gender (in)equality and for the inspiration to other women to talk about challenges they face.
„Women speak“ is a civic initiative, that is carried out by 5 women with different occupations. The initiative has a broad range of activity – from social projects to the stand-up comedy. The list of topics that this initiative is interested in is also very diverse: gender equality, consequences of a beauty cult, women image in the public sphere, women leadership, gender stereotypes, gender discrimination, sexism, sexual, physical or psychological abuse. The activities are aimed to promoting gender equality ideas, informing society about social issues and also to improving women self-confidence and solidarity between women. This initiative supports diversity and motivates women to break free from existing stereotypes. It also seeks that women portrayal in media would be realistic, diverse and respectful.
One of the most famous initiatives of 2015 is a video project #MUSUDAUG
Nations Dialogue Award
CIVIL INITIAVIVE „I WILL TAKE IN A REFUGEE“. For voluntary efforts to create safe environment for asylum seekers from different nations, cultures and religions.
„I will take in a refugee“ is a civil initiative gathered together on a voluntary basis and refugee integration in Lithuanian society is its goal. During the civil initiatives, coordinators seek to draw society‘s attention about this problem and to destroy myths about asylum seeking and refugee status, also to promote cross-cultural and interreligious harmony. Volunteers help to integrate refugees in a new environment by providing temporary or permanent place to stay, or legal aid. Volunteers also teach refugees Lithuanian language, history, help with finances, show around the city, help to integrate in new culture. Finally, all these actions make a difference in breaking free the stereotypical view of refugees.
Read more: http://straipsniai.pabegelis.lt/
Rainbow Appreciation Award
A SELF-HELP GROUP OF PARENTS WITH LGBT CHILDREN. For the first time in history of great courage to gather together in a self-help group, for parents supporting each other, for supporting their children, and for the parents with LGBT children that no longer feel alone in this situation.
The initiative that started in 2015 was the first one that gathered parents with with homosexual, bisexual or transgender children in a self-help group. Parents who gathered together to emotionally support each other now are the ones, who advocate their own children in a public sphere. During the year, group members were active in social media, gave interviews and were talking about their experiences. People who started from scratch, have achieved a lot – about 20 interviews in radio and media. During the meetings people can share their feelings, emotions, trust each other and most importantly, do not feel alone in this situation.
The Best Age – My Age Award
LINA PLIOPLYTĖ/MOVIE „ADVANCED STYLE“. For stylish approach to the society that is obsessed with youth cult and for brave and proud older age introduction in documentary movie „Advanced style“.
„I have never wanted to look young, I wanted to look fabulous“, - says one of the members in Lina Plioplyte‘s movie „Advanced style“. Women in the documentary are brave, independent, vibrant and stylish New Yorkers. They do not complain about former youth, contrary to that, they enjoy every single moment. „Advanced style“ is not just a movie, it‘s a lifestyle, a movement that every single one can and should join. The ladies that were in Lina Plioplyte‘s movie are from 62 to 95 years old. These women ride colorful bikes, chat with friends, go to parties, experiment with their style and learn new things that were abandoned because of lack of time. Fashion in this movie is like a self-expression form that helps grow old with dignity.
Movie „Advanced style“ is like a surprise for the Western culture that is obsessed with beauty cult. „Advanced style“ is not just a regular movie, it‘s a lifestyle, a movement that everyone can and should join.
Overcoming Obstacles Award
KRISTINA DŪDONYTĖ. For an inspirational example and dedication to her occupational and public acitivity by helping people with disabilities to overcome obstacles and live a versatile and respectable life.
Kristina Dūdonytė is a young and active woman that inspires other people with disabilities. After she got bachelor‘s degree in English philology and international business in Kaunas, she worked in Alytus disabled people employment day center. Kristina was actively involved in creation of policy for disabled people. She also organises social activities and is a part of a wider European organisation.
Religious Diversity Award
AUŠRA PAŽĖRAITĖ. For her active and consistent academic work that helps to break stereotypes and myths about religions, for publicising researches in media and creating more opend-minded society which is interested in knowing more about diversity of religions.
Dr. Aušra Pažėraitė is an associate professor in Vilnius University Center for Religious Studies and Research, a board member in Lithuanian Society for the Study of Religions, member of ISORECEA (International Study of Religion in Eastern and Central Europe Association), member of AAR (American Academy of Religion), member of ISSR/SISR (International Society for the Sociology of Religion /Société Internationale de Sociologie des Religions), member of Lithuanian Philosophical Association. During her time in secondary school she was actively involved in an underground life of Catholic Church and dissident activities. Since 2004 she is takes part in public debates in radio shows with members of the Roman Catholic Church supporting human rights and feminism.
Breakthrought of the Year Award
EGLĖ JOKUŽYTĖ. For her activity that helped to connect people by feeling books.
Eglė Jokužytė is the creator of "Verslas ar menas" (Bussiness and Art). She implements social projects that reveals what talets children with visual impairment have. These projects help to realize what it feels to be visually impaired. The main activity of „Verslas ar menas“is publishing and the publications are adapted for both – children with visual impairment and children who can see. The goal is to publish books that would be interesting for visually impaired children. In 2015, there were published a book from Leonardo da Vinci‘s fairytale "Winged Letters" in Braille, which was awarded as the most beautiful book in 2015. This book is special not only because it‘s written in Braille, but also because of illustrations that are material and you can feel them by touching. Sighted children can playfully touch the pictures with their eyes closed and recognize illustrations the way blind children do and the Braille helps to understand that some people read with their fingers. Children with visual impairment can read the book together with their family and even feel a little bit superior – they know how to read Braille. Books like this help children to feel as equal as a sighted reader and for sighted children it teaches tolerance for different people.
Video about book "Winged Letters": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JpLJekSUgMc
Media Voice Award
ARTŪRAS MOROZOVAS. For developing socially sensitive photography in Lithuanian media, for changing the approach about vulnerable groups in society, for his work during refugees migration from Syria and other Arabic countries and for documenting the Ukrainian fight for freedom.
Artūras Morozovas is a young photographer. In social projects like „Vienodos Dienos” he is photographing women that are imprisoned and raising their children in prison. His pictures and stories about migrants are changing people‘s attitudes and reducing negative stereotypes. This photographer is also documenting Ukrainian fight for freedom.
Find out more his work here: http://www.artmor.lt/
Lifetime Achievement Award
DANUTĖ MITUZIENĖ. For uniting the diverse community, for her loyalty to principles of the equal opportunities and for respect to the diversity of people. This award is presented to a person for their lifetime contributions to human rights and whose actions helped to promote and cherish the ideas of equality and tolerance.
The director of non-governmental kindergarden "Nendrė" Danutė Mituzienė has developed a unique and new model of institutions working with pre-primary education. All prevention initiatives and projects for the street children and children of poor families eventually became as an idea, to help integrate lonely and socially vulnerable parents in the labor market. It also helped to create an environment for their children‘s universal education, to defend their rights and helped to save families. "Nendrė" was established in 1998 and eventually became a social services center for children and their parents. This center is located in Šnipiškės, one of the most underprivileged neighborhoods in Vilnius. The street of Giedraičiai (that the center is on) still has no central heating or other vital systems so „Nendrė“ is the only opportunity to get proper childcare and social services. Other activities includes working with children and their parents of ethnic minorities in order to save their ethnic identity by cherishing family‘s values and traditions. Also all the activities emphasizes gender equality that is important in fighting gender stereotypes.
The winners were honoured with statuettes made by artist Viktoras Dailidėnas.
Artūras Novikas‘ vocal jazz school group "Jazz Isalnd" and Čiurlionis quartet were perfoming during the event. Two exhibitions were presented in the Philharmonic lobby: "AccessAbility" that was set by "Lithuanian Disability Forum" and by the Swedish Institute and photography exhibition by Neringa Rekašiūtė called "Islamas Lietuvoje" (Islam in Lithuania).
The host of the awards was Richardas Jonaitis. Event moments were captured by photographer Dovydas Lopetaitis (Vilnius Life Style) and can be found here.