Microfinance pioneer Professor Muhammad Yunus, founder and managing director of Grameen Bank, has been awarded the US Presidential Medal of Freedom for 2009. Dr. Yunus will receive the medal from President Barack Obama at a special White House ceremony on August 12.
Each (recipient) saw an imperfect world and set about improving it, often overcoming great obstacles along the way…Their relentless devotion to breaking down barriers and lifting up their fellow citizens sets a standard to which we all should strive,” said President Obama. Dr Yunus has pioneered microfinance movement in Bangladesh which has now become a global phenomenon. Yunus was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his work.
In his congratulatory message, Mr Alex Counts, President & CEO of Grameen Foundation, said: “I worked with Dr. Yunus for six years in Bangladesh prior to establishing Grameen Foundation with his support in 1997, and I am delighted that he is being honored for his tremendous work on behalf of poor people worldwide. While living there, I saw Professor Yunus’ humble leadership and pathbreaking ideas changing lives and motivating people at all levels of society to envision and work towards a poverty-free Bangladesh.”
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian honor in the United States and recognizes those who have made significant contributions to the United States, world peace and culture.Dr. Yunus will join Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa and Martin Luther King, Jr. when he receives the award on August 12.
The US medal was established by President Harry S. Truman in 1945 to recognize civilians for their efforts during World War II and was reinstated by President John F. Kennedy in 1963 to honor distinguished service by civilians.