Three inspirational women honoured by University for the Common Good

3 July 2019
UN Ambassador Nozipho January-Bardill, BBC Scotland Director Donalda MacKinnon and Humanitarian Zainab Salbi

Three truly inspirational women received honorary degrees today by Scotland’s University for the Common Good, Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU).

Donalda MacKinnon, Director of BBC Scotland, received a Doctor of Letters (DLitt) in recognition of her outstanding contribution to Scottish media, her cultural contribution to Glasgow and support of GCU Master of Arts degree in Television (MATV) students.

Humanitarian Zainab Salbi, founder of Women for Women International, was awarded a Doctor of Laws (LLD) in recognition of her outstanding contribution to humanitarian issues, in particular, her work with women war survivors.

Ambassador Nozipho January-Bardill, Chairperson of the Council of Nelson Mandela University and Chairperson of UN Global Compact Local Network, South Africa, collected a Doctor of Laws (LLD) in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the work of the United Nations on the elimination of racial discrimination, the rights of women, social justice and governance.

After being presented with her honorary degree by GCU Chancellor Dr Annie Lennox OBE, Ms MacKinnon said: “I’m not afraid to say it’s more than a little bit daunting, as an honorary graduate, to rub shoulders with such illustrious companions as Nozipho and Zainab. If I may borrow a line from the Chancellor herself, today sisters really are doing it for themselves!

“It is particularly gratifying - and humbling - to receive this award from a university that very much has innovation at its heart, across so many disciplines.”

Ms Salbi is one of the leading women impacting the world. At the age of 23, she founded grassroots humanitarian organisation Women for Women International and helped support almost 500,000 marginalised women in eight conflict areas.

She has hosted several TV series including Through Her Eyes on Yahoo! News and wrote several books such as best-selling memoir Between Two Worlds and Freedom is an Inside Job.

During the graduation ceremony, she told students how she grew up in Iraq, then found herself in the US as a young bride before the first Gulf War.

“Over time I came to learn that misfortunes often lead to fortunes and that I should judge not the circumstances I went through but the stories of the kindness, love and support I received from people in the process. Mostly I came to appreciate and cherish the meaning of freedom - the freedom to express oneself and the freedom to be who you are.”

Ms January-Bardill, internationally recognised for her contributions to the Common Good, said the partnership between GCU and Nelson Mandela University was “made in heaven”.

She added: “I feel honoured to be recognised by this amazing university. Our partnership is made in heaven and our values are tightly aligned.”