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International Women's Day 2019 Women's rights Gender

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Cameroon activist Aissa Doumara Ngatansou wins first Simone Veil prize

Cameroonian activist Aissa Doumara Ngatansou gives a speech after she received the Simone Veil prize, at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, on March 8, 2019 during International Women's Day. Aissa Doumara Ngatansou has worked against forced marriages and other v Thibault Camus / AFP

The inaugural Simone Veil Prize of the French Republic has been awarded to Cameroonian woman Aissa Doumara Ngatansou, who runs an organisation that helps victimes of rape and forces marriage in Cameroon.

The prize was awarded on International Women’s Day by French President Emmanuel Macron at a ceremony at the Elysée Palace in front of a large black and white portrait of Veil, the revered politician and Holocaust survivor who died in 2017.

Ngatansou said she dedicated the award "with much emotion” to all the women victims of violence and forced marriage and to the survivors of the Nigerian insurgency group Boko Haram – whose activity has also spread to Cameroon.

Macron pledged 120 million euros in support of the fight against violence and discrimination in the world, and said he hoped that as president of the G7, France could help advance women's rights in 2019.

Measures would also be taken for girls, particularly in the Sahel, and for the creation of a women's entrepreneurship bank in Africa. Paris is also proposing to host a world conference on women in 2020, 25 years after the one held in Beijing in 1995.