Recognizing feminist advocacy and collaborative leadership in global cooperation

The Karen Takacs Award is presented annually by Cooperation Canada to an individual who has notably, by virtue of working collaboratively, made a difference in the lives of women globally. The award honours outstanding collaborative leadership and commitment to promoting women’s equality. The winners are honoured during International Development Week and are given the opportunity to host a workshop to share her expertise and experience of collaborative leadership.


Karen Takacs was a celebrated and cherished leader of the Canadian international community. For over 20 years, Karen worked tirelessly to improve the lives and advance the rights of women and girls locally, nationally, and internationally. Karen was a catalyst for collaboration in the Canadian international sector. Throughout her life, Karen was admired for motivating and bringing people together around a common cause. By way of encouragement, generosity, and humour, Karen led by mobilizing and supporting others. Following Karen’s passing in 2015, Cooperation Canada (then the Canadian Council for International Cooperation) created an award to honour her invaluable contribution to the fight for social and economic justice, and to celebrate the unique collaborative leadership she demonstrated throughout her career, including her time as Chair of the Board of Cooperation Canada. For the Canadian global development community, The Karen Takacs Award is a symbol of feminism, collaboration, advocacy, mentorship and resilience.

Nomination Process

Criteria for Selection

The nomination period for the 2021 Cooperation Canada Awards is now closed. Stay tuned for the call for nominations for the 2022 Cooperation Canada Awards.

To nominate someone for this award, please see the criteria below.

In order to be considered for the award, a nominee must:

  • Identify as a feminist
  • Be peer-nominated
  • Be a leader, contributing to shifting power in a collaborative sense within the current COVID-19 context; be that through localization, partnership building, in an anti-racist agenda, among others (etc.)


Expectations for Award Winner

  • Attendance, either in person or by video, at Cooperation Canada’s International Development Week event
  • Serve on The Karen Takacs Award committee for 1 year, following the receipt of the award
  • The winner will be invited to host a leadership relevant workshop within the year the award is presented


Nomination Procedures

  • Two central nomination letters that provide an accounting of the nominee’s advocacy for women’s equality and collaborative leadership contributions. In each nomination letter, the nominator is asked to demonstrate the following:
    • Evidence of the nominee’s contributions to feminist advocacy for women and girls
    • Evidence of how the nominee has made a difference by working collaboratively
    • Evidence of how the nominee has influenced or inspired her peers
    • Evidence of how the nominee has challenged power structures on a global scale
  • Links to websites and other documentation that describes and illustrates the nominee’s advocacy work and its impact (including testimonials from those benefiting from or witnessing the activism) will be useful to the committee
  • The nominee’s curriculum vitae or resume


The 2020 Karen Takacs Award Recipient 

Zaida Bastos
Former Development Partnerships Program Director for the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) 

Zaida Bastos (left) in Tanzania.

Zaida began working with PWRDF in 1998 and, over the years, served in several capacities, including as Africa Program Coordinator and External Funding Program Manager. Over the span of her career, she has worked for the Working Group on Refugee Resettlement, UNESCO in Paris and the United Nations Development Program in Angola. Zaida’s expertise focuses on community development, gender equality and organizational development and has worked to support effective training and the integration of prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse policies. 

Past Recipients

2019: Liz Bernstein  Founding Director of the Nobel Women’s Initiative


2018: Beth Woroniuk  MATCH International Women’s Fund, Women Peace and Security Network Canada


  Kate McInturff  Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (received by her family)


 2017: Patricia Erb  former President and CEO of Save the Children Canada


2016: Karen Takacs (received by her family)