US Muslim group presents award to Turkish first lady for her humanitarian efforts
"I am happy to be with you on the occasion of this very meaningful award ceremony. I accept this award on behalf of my country, which is the conscience of the world," said Erdogan in her remarks at the ceremony.
"Our religion tells us that the best competition among people is to compete in good deeds. In this sense, our record is full of examples of a charity race that astonishes people," she said.
Erdogan recalled that Türkiye continued to be the most generous nation according to the Global Humanitarian Assistance Report 2022, saying "we have worked to be the first ones" to reach locations to aid those in need regardless of their religion, language or race.
She said Türkiye is continuing its humanitarian aid not only via the bilateral level with nations but also through the UN and disbursed $7.7 billion in aid to 122 countries including Syria, Somalia and Palestine in 2021.
Türkiye is also working to meet the medical needs of those in need in “fragile” areas, said Erdogan, citing hospitals built in Sudan, Somalia and Bangladesh.
"Türkiye's humanitarian aid experience is much more than a foreign policy," she said.
Erdogan helped national projects encourage girls' and women's education, launched health care projects for children, women and refugees, and initiated the "Zero Waste" project in 2017 to highlight climate change and pollution.
The first lady said the number of refugees in the world exceeds 100 million with the Ukraine war, which the report marks as a "dramatic milestone."
"As you know, our lands throughout history have been a safe haven for people fleeing war and persecution. We have opened the doors of this shelter to our Ukrainian brothers and sisters as well," she added.
The first lady also traveled to Myanmar in 2012 and visited Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh in 2017 despite the challenging situation back then.
Erdogan has also been in support of women's empowerment in Africa. She visited more than 20 African nations between 2014-2020 including Algeria, Ethiopia, Somalia and Tanzania.
The first lady believes that if women become stronger, then families and children will too.
Other Muslim awardees
Aisha al-Adawiya, the founder of Women in Islam, Inc., an organization of Muslim women that focuses on human rights and social justice, was awarded for her activism in human rights and social justice. She received her award from Erdogan.
Dr. Uzma Syed, who is chair of the COVID-19 Task Force at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in New York, received the award for her COVID-19 pandemic response.