More than 200 guests gathered at the second annual TIME100 Impact Awards and Gala, on the seventh floor of Dubai’s Museum of the Future. Celebrities and award recipients began the ceremony in solemnity, honoring the more than 33,000 victims in the devastating earthquake that impacted Northwest Syria and Turkey on Feb. 6 with a moment of silence.
“This past week has demonstrated the necessity of coming together as an international community to help others, and a lot of tonight’s honorees have done just that, through their life’s work,” said Lebanese presenter and journalist Raya Abirached who hosted the ceremony.
Sunday’s gala sought to recognize five global change-makers who are invested in enacting change to move their industries and the world forward. Recipients ranged from Graça Machel—Mozambique’s first female cabinet member and a freedom fighter in the nation’s liberation movement—to conservationist Farwiza Farhan.
Among them also stood Idris Elba and Sabrina Dhowre Elba, the celebrity power couple whose work on food security, climate change, environmental conservation, and the struggles rural women and girls face was highlighted. The pair are ambassadors with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a UN agency that invests in rural communities to better build their financial resilience and food security.
Presented with the award by 2022 TIME100 Impact Award honoree wil.i.am, Sabrina Dhowre Elba took to the mic first, starting off by acknowledging the impact of Machel’s work in advancing women’s rights. She also spoke of the “urgent need of the people in Syria and Turkey,” calling the catastrophe “heartbreaking.”
“We all know what’s happening, we keep them in our prayers, and there are many ways to help. So please do what you can. May Allah grant them Jannah,” she said. [Jannah refers to the Islamic concept of heaven or paradise.]
The Canadian actress and model also spoke on the significance of using one’s voice to speak out on behalf of those who feel unheard.
“It’s moments like this that helped me feel like the impact of the work that we do is being felt,” she added. “A friend once said to me that 50% of the advocacy is being in the room—it’s showing up. And that sat heavy with me. The importance of using our voices because we have the privilege of having voices that are heard for the millions who do not. We fight with those who have been forgotten. We fight with those who have been neglected.”
Idris Elba echoed her statements, calling his voice “powerful,” and asking reporters to keep asking people with power how they can make an impact in the world.
“Once we ask that question, we open the doors of investigating what we can do. You answer that question in dialogue, you answer that question in action, by sharing, by answering it yourself,” he said. “I don’t know how we do it. I don’t know what motivates us. But I imagine that like you, we just need to just keep doing it. It doesn’t matter. We just need to just keep pushing the agendas that shift people’s dynamics, perceptions, and help change.”
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