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July 24, 2024

Stephanie Okereke Linus Joins the Ranks of Nobel Laureates as the First Black Recipient of Lennox K. Black Prize for Excellence in Medicine

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A leading voice against child marriage and an advocate for women’s rights and health, Nollywood actress and filmmaker Stephanie Okereke Linus uses her platform to empower and heal women. Inspired by a true story, her film “Dry” sheds light on Vesicovaginal fistula (VVF), a devastating childbirth injury impacting girls and women in northern regions of Nigeria. Through her foundation, Extended Hands, Stephanie provides medical care to women suffering from VVF and advocates for change. Her dedication has been recognised with prestigious awards like the Miriam Makeba Award for Excellence in 2017 and the Beyond the Tears Humanitarian Award for her work against rape and VVF.

From 2017 – 2020, she served as the regional ambassador on maternal and reproductive health for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), where she advocated for maternal and reproductive health, and young people’s rights to reach their potential.

Still in recognition of her outstanding contributions to social activism and impact through her work, Stephanie was recently honoured with the Lennox K. Black International Prize for Excellence in Medicine by Thomas Jefferson University. Named after Lennox K. Black, a Canadian manufacturing executive known for his philanthropic efforts and service on various boards including that of Thomas Jefferson University, the Lennox K. Black International Prize for Excellence in Medicine recognises individuals who have made significant contributions to the medical field, promoting scientific discovery and advancements.

The award celebrates excellence in medical innovation and contribution to health and medicine, and Stephanie Linus, is renowned for her activism and impactful work in areas concerning women’s health and rights, including her efforts to combat issues like fistula and gender-based violence, which has been instrumental in bringing about social change through her films and campaigns. Her work extends beyond borders, affecting lives and policies internationally, embodying the spirit of the Lennox K. Black International Prize.

This award makes her the first black recipient of the award. On receiving the award, Linus expressed her gratitude and reaffirmed her commitment to using her platform for social good, “This recognition goes beyond me; it is for all the women and girls out there who are fighting for a healthier, safer world. It amplifies our message and our work. It strengthens my resolve to continue advocating for gender equality, social justice, and improved maternal and reproductive health in Africa.”

The interim president of Thomas Jefferson University, Susan C. Aldunge, expressed her admiration, saying, ‘It was our honour to recognise the remarkable contributions you’ve made as an advocate for gender equality and social justice. Your ability to educate while humbly addressing the cultural obstacles impeding progress for young women is commendable. Your intelligent, personal take on the necessary changes in human rights has made a deep impact on all of us lucky enough to encounter you. Congratulations once more on this well-deserved award and the acknowledgement of your efforts.”

Watch her receive the award here:

See more photos from the event:

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