News | 11 Dec 2020

Michaela Coel scoops top prize at UN Women UK virtual awards

It was glitz and glamour from the comfort of your living room as the Vodafone-sponsored 2020 UN Women UK awards went virtual to raise funds and awareness for the UK charity.

Nick Jeffery, CEO, Vodafone UK, revealed that the winner of the UN Women UK Challenger of the Year award was Michaela Coel, author, actress, singer, director and producer.

The virtual group chat exploded as attendees raved about Michaela’s 2020 TV series, ‘I May Destroy You’, which she not only wrote but also starred in, co-directed and executive produced.

The show, distributed by BBC and HBO, tackles trauma, sexuality, race and class across a sprawling, vibrant London and has resonated on both sides of the Atlantic.

2016 BAFTA TV Awards - Press Room
Michaela Coel said “it means a lot” to win the UN Women UK award

“What I do is art, but it’s also an attempt to challenge any reality where a woman or girl is unequal,” Michaela said.

“There is an alternative reality we could all live in, and that’s why it means a lot to me to win this award.”

Michaela lwas joined by fellow winners Kira Charlton and Prof Dame Donna Kinnair. Kira was recognised for her work in founding the Epsom Women and Girls Network, which challenges her local community to look at sexual violence as a collective issue, not an individual one.

And Dame Donna, CEO of the Royal College of Nurses and child protection specialist, was commended for her outstanding leadership during the COVID-19 crisis.

Nick also spoke about the BrightSky app, jointly developed by Vodafone Foundation and crisis chrity Hestia, which is designed to support domestic abuse victims. It has been downloaded more 60,000 times.

Virtual networking

Comedian Sara Pascoe hosted the awards show, laughing at the challenges of virtual presenting and the perils of mute buttons. She shared her own experiences as a female entertainer in a male-dominated profession.

Former Australian Prime Minister, Julia Guillard, spoke about how her achievements as the nation’s first female leader had only made her “more impatient to see progress.”

Guests were also treated to a spoken word recital from poet Tene Edwards and an acoustic set from Sam Soucis. There was plenty of time to network, though, with guests grouped by seating plan in a virtual chatroom, with only the occasional confusion over who was meant to be ‘sitting’ where.

Created in 2010, UN Women is an international organisation dedicated to gender equality. The charity has a number of key projects on the go, including a mission to keep women and girls safe during the pandemic given the attendant rise in domestic abuse.

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