Popularly known as the ‘tea girl’ in Sudan, Awadeya Mahmoud has played a transformative role in the society as she continues to seek equal opportunities for women.
The 53-year-old is the Founder and Chair of both the Women’s Food and Tea Sellers Cooperative and the Women’s Multi-Purpose Cooperative for Khartoum State. The cooperatives represent thousands of women, many of them internally displaced by conflict.
Having been displaced at a young age during Sudan’s South Kordofan conflict, Mahmoud and her family relocated to Khartoum. Soon after, she had to start work to support her family.
However, Mahmoud only had the luxury of selling tea in the streets of Sudan’s capital.
Through 20 years of selling tea by the roadsides, she dreamed of improving conditions for her co-workers, mostly from conflict-hit areas like herself.
Nevertheless, her efforts to empower women in the region came with a price to pay.
In 1990, Awadeya participated in the formation of a cooperative to aid migrants from the Nuba region after the 1983 conflict.
She organized women into societies, encouraging them to take a firm stand on their rights and engage politicians on police behavior.
However, 15 years later, Awadeya and other officials were detained for years.
Nevertheless, almost three decades later, her continuing resolve to seek justice and equal opportunities for women remains an inspiration to women throughout Sudan.
Last month, US Secretary of State John Kerry lauded Awadeya for her steadfast efforts to promote legal reform and to advance economic empowerment for women in Sudan.
Awadeya Mahmoud was among other 14 women honoured by Kerry at the annual International Women of Courage Awards.