Michelle Yeoh
Michelle Yeoh became the first Asian to win the Best Actress Oscar award in 2023. Image Credit: Reuters

Oscar-winning actress Michelle Yeoh, Burkinabe-German architect Diebedo Francis Kere and American musician Nile Rodgers were awarded the Crystal Award 2024 at the ongoing World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland.

The winners were presented with the awards at the opening session of the WEF on Monday.

Michelle Yeoh, who made history by becoming the first woman of Asian descent to win the Academy Award for Best Actress in 2023, was awarded the Crystal Award for raising awareness and mobilising support for sustainable development goals.

Yeoh was appointed as UNDP Goodwill Ambassador for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2016. She is committed to raising awareness and mobilising support for the SDGs, sustainable fashion, and disaster preparedness.

“Thank you to the World Economic Forum for this unique and profound award. I am thrilled and honoured today to be recognised for my small part in the extraordinary work that I do with UNDP, with IPI, with ICM and UN Safety Ambassador,” Yeoh said in her address.

Stressing that gender discrimination is not just women’s problem but indeed a global issue, she further said that she is inspired by the work of organisations like the UNDP and their commitment to women empowerment goals.

“As you know, my day job is very different. I’m an actress who got my start taking on bad guys, kicking and punching and leaping in action films for a young girl from Ipoh, Malaysia, whose dream of dancing was crushed with life-changing injury,” Yeoh said.

She added, “Gender discrimination is not a woman problem. It is a world problem in the face of these dark, immense issues. One voice, one shining light, one advocate may be the difference between a continued existence of silence and darkness or a future of change and hope for me personally”.

Nile Rodgers is known for giving the message of peace and equality through his ‘iconic music’ and for championing innovative youth voices.

According to the World Economic Forum website, Rodgers has been awarded for his “extraordinary efforts to make the world a more peaceful, equal, and inclusive place through his iconic music, his exemplary commitment in fighting systemic racism, inequality, and injustice, and by championing innovative youth voices to decision-making tables”.

“My parents socialised me to care about people and give to others though we ourselves were financially poor. So I am immeasurably honoured to receive this 2024 Crystal Award for my continuing efforts to help make a more peaceful, equitable, and inclusive environment through music and activism. I’m overjoyed that you recognise the incredible work of We Are Family Foundation,” Rodgers said in his speech in Davos.

He added, “Our Family Foundation has powerfully illustrated my belief that young people are the Thinkers and the Innovators who are critical to both the present and the future of our planet. We are honoured to work with 100 of youths around the world who are actively solving problems they are personally experiencing. Whether it’s climate change, the ethics of AI, social justice, or gross inequality”.

Diebedo Francis Kere was awarded the prize for his “exemplary leadership” in providing the Gando community the means towards a socially, economically, and ecologically sustainable future through projects that focus on education, health and the environment.