The winner of the 2023 Templeton Prize is Dr. Edna Adan Ismail, a nurse-midwife, hospital founder, and healthcare advocate who has dedicated her life to improving the lives of thousands of women and girls in East Africa and beyond.
Like Mother Teresa, who received the first Templeton Prize fifty years ago in 1973, Edna has dedicated herself to helping a community that did not have adequate medical care, thereby achieving a global impact.
This year’s award is believed to be the largest international prize ever given to an individual African woman.
Upon receiving the award, Edna commented:
I feel blessed and honored to receive this award, which will enable me to make a major contribution to the U.S.-based Friends of Edna Maternity Hospital. These funds will be used to support the hospital in carrying out its essential work, such as obtaining medical equipment, hiring expert educators, enabling expansion to serve more patients, and to continue training the next generation of healthcare workers that East Africa so desperately needs.”Edna Adan Ismail
The announcement of Edna’s award is warmly received by many members of the global community — many of whom identify Edna as a global icon of compassion.
Statement from Nicholas Kristof, columnist for The New York Times
Kristof is an American journalist and winner of two Pulitzer Prizes who, alongside his wife Sheryl WuDunn, wrote Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, which focuses on humanitarian concerns that women face in the developing world.
Kristof released a statement commending Edna on receiving the 2023 Templeton Prize:
She’s bringing modern medicine, the latest science of prevention and a fundamental emphasis on gender equity to Somaliland, and it’s making a huge difference. She is bringing science in a truly lifesaving way to one of the world’s poorest countries, while tackling culture and religion in deeply sensitive and effective ways—and also serving as an extraordinary role model.Nicolas Kristof
It’s thrilling that the @TempletonPrize this year goes to @EdnaAdan of Somaliland: https://t.co/6EswqbUkrp Edna has worked heroically to reduce maternal mortality and FGM, and to train doctors and midwives. She’s a force of nature and one of my heroes.— Nicholas Kristof (@NickKristof) May 16, 2023
Statement from Diane Lane, actress and activist
Academy Award-nominated actress and prolific humanitarian activist Diane Lane appeared alongside Edna in the 2012 documentary Half the Sky. In a statement for the Templeton Prize, she said:
Edna Adan Ismail is a beacon of hope and an inspiration for all who care deeply about the health of women and girls around the world. Her commitment to the highest moral and scientific standards are what make her such an exemplary winner of the Templeton Prize. For decades, Edna has been a force of female empowerment and cultural transformation that I was grateful to witness firsthand visiting her Somaliland in 2011. Her hopeful attitude and commanding sense of compassion are an inspiration, as her countless patients, students, and admirers can attest. I am so happy Edna’s devotion to women and their families is being honored in this unique and prestigious way.Diane Lane
Statement from Science Philanthropy Alliance President Dr. France A. Córdova
Dr. France A. Córdova is an astrophysicist, former director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), and one of the nine esteemed Templeton Prize judges. She currently serves as President of the Science Philanthropy Alliance. In a statement for the Templeton Prize, Dr. Córdova said:
Dr. Edna Adan Ismail is an excellent choice because she has a compelling life story of selfless service to others in the face of great challenges, successfully drawing upon her health care background as a nurse. Dr. Edna Adan Ismail’s life and work are tremendous examples of the power of science in affirming the dignity of all women and helping them to flourish physically and spirituallyFrance A. Córdova
Statement from Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is an Ethiopian public health official, researcher, and Director-General of the World Health Organization. He posted a statement on Twitter commending Edna on May 16. This post was retweeted by Mahdi M. Gulaid, the former and longest-serving Deputy Prime Minister of Somalia.
My heartfelt congratulations to @EdnaAdan for winning the @TempletonPrize 2023 – it is so well deserved! Dear Edna – thanks for everything you’ve done and continue to do to improve women’s health in Africa. You’re a true champion and a role model! @WHO is proud of you.…— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) May 16, 2023
Statement from Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga
Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga is 1st Deputy Prime Minister of Uganda and Minister for East African Community Affairs. She posted a statement on Twitter commending Edna:
Congratulations to Edna for carrying out a longstanding campaign against an entrenched practice, well deserved honour https://t.co/NoPnYIEIp6— Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga (@RebeccaKadagaUG) May 17, 2023
Learn more about the life and legacy of Edna Adan Ismail.