Social development association selected for empowering marginalized groups in Palestine and fostering peace and inclusion

 OTTAWA, CANADA, Sept. 13, 2023 – Responding to the urgent need to support positive responses to diversity, the Global Centre for Pluralism today announced 10 finalists for the 2023 Global Pluralism Award. Selected from among 200 submissions from 60 countries, REFORM: the Palestinian Association for Empowerment and Local Developmentwas shortlisted for bridging divides between groups in Palestine and advancing the inclusion of marginalized youth including refugees, those living in C areas (which are Israeli-controlled zones of the West Bank) and other hard-to-reach groups. 

“The creativity, courage and commitment shown by this year’s finalists is so important at this moment,” said Meredith Preston McGhie, Secretary General of the Global Centre for Pluralism. “At a time of increasing polarization globally, it is critical to magnify the impacts of pluralism leaders who are creating more inclusive and peaceful societies where diversity is valued. I hope these examples spur us all to follow their example and take action.” 

Nominees for the Award undergo rigorous review and finalists are selected by an independent, international jury of experts.

According to jury chair Dr. Marwan Muasher of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a former foreign minister and deputy prime minister of Jordan: “The Award finalists have made outstanding contributions to fostering pluralism in some of the world’s most challenging contexts. They are strengthening their communities by helping to build a foundation of mutual respect, cooperation and shared purpose.” 

Founded in 2012, REFORM empowers marginalized and hard-to-reach groups through a wide range of initiatives. Its diversity and cohesion program enhances the social and political participation of stigmatized youth and women from the refugee camp, C areas and other hard-to-reach communities, while its Governance and Public Policy Program works toward more inclusive public policy processes. Other projects provide economic opportunities for women and empower women and girls to combat gender-based violence.

REFORM also trains youth in conflict transformation and empowers future leaders to respond positively to diversity. It creates safe spaces for dialogue and bridges gaps between marginalized community members and decision-makers, working towards a more peaceful and inclusive future for Palestine.

From among these 10 finalists, three winners and seven honourable mention recipients will be announced in October and recognized at a ceremony to be held in November in Ottawa, Canada. Each winner will receive a prize of $50,000 (CAD) to further their work in support of pluralism. 


Meet the 2023 Global Pluralism Award finalists (alphabetical): 

Build Up (Kenya/United States/Global) works with peacebuilding institutions and a network of peace innovators to tackle polarization and make peacebuilding processes more inclusive of diverse voices and perspectives with a specific focus on digital technologies.  

Deeyah Khan (Norway/United States) is a documentary filmmaker and activist countering extremism and fostering understanding and empathy across ideological, religious and racial divides.

Esther Omam (Cameroon) is a peacebuilder, mediator and human rights defender mobilizing women and youth from across Cameroon to advocate for an end to conflict and hostilities.

The Global Interfaith Network for People of All Sexes, Sexual Orientations, Gender Identities and Expressions - GIN-SSOGIE (South Africa/Global) supports LGBTIQ+ people of faith from the Global South and East to advocate for an end to violence and persecution against sexual and gender minorities. 

India Love Project (India) challenges exclusion and prejudice in India by sharing love stories of non-traditional unions between interfaith, inter-caste and LGBTQ+ couples on social media.  

Lea Baroudi (Lebanon) is a peace mediator using art, culture and social enterprise to provide Lebanese youth with the rare opportunity to build a future outside of violent extremism and sectarianism.  

Politize! Civic Education Institute (Brazil) is a non-partisan and non-profit organization tackling polarization in Brazil by producing free and unbiased political education, training civic leaders to solve public policy problems and training teachers to educate youth to become engaged citizens.

Red de Intérpretes y Promotores Interculturales Asociación Civil (Mexico) is an Indigenous youth collective in Oaxaca, Mexico tackling exclusion by providing otherwise unavailable Indigenous language interpretation to those involved in legal proceedings.  

REFORM: The Palestinian Association for Empowerment and Local Development (Palestine) is a non-governmental organization building solidarity between groups in Palestine by empowering them to get involved in social life and influence decision-making.  

Touché (Belgium) is a social enterprise providing support to current and former prisoners and at-risk youth and, in the process, advancing a positive view of anger and aggression.  

Calina Ellwand, 
Senior Manager, Communications and Public Affairs, Global Centre for Pluralism 


The Global Pluralism Award recognizes pluralism in action. Presented every other year to individuals, organisations, governments and businesses from around the world, the Award celebrates the inspiring and brave work that is helping to build more inclusive societies where diversity is valued and protected.The Award is conferred by the Global Centre for Pluralism, an independent, charitable organization founded by His Highness the Aga Khan and the Government of Canada, and is made possible in part by the generous support of TD Bank Group. For more information about the Award, visit