The Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC) is happy to announce that Liz Bernstein is the 2019 Karen Takacs Award Recipient.  The Karen Takacs Award is presented annually by CCIC 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.   

Liz Bernstein is the founding Director of the Nobel Women’s Initiative. Liz has led the organization in building strong relationships with Global South grassroots women’s organizations to grow the global women’s peace movement. Previously, Liz served as Coordinator of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) from 1998 through 2004. Liz participated in the campaign since it began in the early 1990s. She lived in Thailand and Cambodia for 10 years (1986-1996), where she worked with local peace and justice advocacy organizations and co-founded the Coalition for Peace and Reconciliation. Liz currently lives in Ottawa, Canada. She is a co-founder of Ecology Ottawa and President of the Lowertown Community Association in Ottawa. 

History & Context 

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, the Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC) 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 CCIC.  For the Canadian global development community, The Karen Takacs Award is a symbol of feminism, collaboration, advocacy, mentorship, and resilience. 

I am honoured and humbled to receive the Karen Takacs award! Karen was one of the first people I met in this community. She was a feminist movement-builder extraordinaire who taught me so much. Especially about polite Canadian collaboration! Despite the enormous challenges we face, from climate breakdown, backlash against women’s human rights, militarism, bigotry, and injustice, we have the tools we need to strengthen our movements for feminist transformation, for a Canada and world of peace and equality. It’s not rocket science. We’re always better together!

Liz Bernstein

Director, Nobel Women’s Initiative