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Warsaw, 23 Nov 09

©Agencja Gazeta

UN-HABITAT’s Executive Director has been awarded an honorary doctorate by the Warsaw School of Economics at a glittering ceremony marking the first time that the university has bestowed such an award upon a woman in its more than 100 years of existence.

“It is a great honour and a privilege for me to accept this Honorary Degree,” Mrs. Tibaijuka said citing what she called “this highly significant gesture of recognition”.

“As you know I am an economist by profession, so I stand here amongst colleagues and fellow professionals,” she said in her acceptance speech.

Mrs. Tibaijuka said she had been moved at the way in which the choir had sung the national anthem of her country, Tanzania, and the welcome accorded her on 20 November by Professor Adam Budnikowsi, Rector of the Warsaw School of Economics.

A letter was presented from Mr. Mariusz Handzlik, Undersecretary of State at the office of the President. There were statements by the Assessors, Professor Kjell Havnevik, Professor Andrzej Kowalski, and Professor Marek Belka, the former Polish Prime Minister; the supervisor of the award procedure, Professor Marek Bryx; Professor Budnikowski and Professor Andrzej Herman.

Expert assessors submitted excellent reviews of Mrs. Tibaijuka's achievements which led the Senate to vote for the award of the Doctor of Honoris Causa on 24 June 2009.

She was highly commended for her achievements in increasing global awareness of poverty and social injustice especially among the world’s 1 billion slum dwellers and others living in sub-standard housing. Her commitment to improve the lives of disadvantaged youth was especially emphasized.

Professor Havenevik said, “she demonstrates what African women can achieve if given a chance”. He also described her as a social activist in her own right who has been at the forefront of the gender equality and women’s empowerment movement in Tanzania, and globally.

Professor Marek noted that the Executive Director “confirmed her convictions through her own life”.

The school expressed its pride that, as its newest member, she would soon receive the Goteborg Award for Sustainable Development.

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