Unveils Congressional Gold Medal, One of the Highest Civilian Awards US Bestows
[CHICAGO, IL] – Assistant Majority Leader, US Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced Nobel Peace Prize winner Professor Muhammad Yunus at the Wright Foundation 2012 Transformational Leadership Award Dinner this evening and unveiled the design for Professor Yunus’ Congressional Gold Medal, one of our nation’s highest civilian awards. Senator Durbin introduced legislation honoring Professor Yunus with the award in 2010. Senator Durbin will now work with House Speaker John Boehner and other Congressional leaders to schedule a formal award ceremony, hopefully later this year.
“With Professor Yunus at the helm, Grameen Bank has played a leading role in a global movement to lift millions of the world’s poorest people out of poverty using the innovative microcredit concept that he pioneered,” Durbin said. “For more than thirty years, his theory of microenterprise has become a phenomenon – touching the lives of more than 100 million people around the world. It is hard to think of any single idea in our lifetime which has lifted so many people out of the deepest depths of poverty.”
The Congressional Gold Medal is the nation’s highest civilian award given to individuals who perform an outstanding deed or act of service to the security, prosperity, and national interest of the United States. Through his Grameen Bank, Professor Yunus has pioneered the microcredit movement and helped hundreds of millions of people around the world break out of poverty.
The Congressional Gold Medal is considered the Congressional equivalent to the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Legislation bestowing the Congressional Gold Medal to a recipient must be co-sponsored by two thirds of the membership of both the House of Representatives and the Senate before their respective committees will consider it. The Congressional Gold Medal is created by the United States Mint to specifically commemorate the person and achievement for which the medal is awarded. An artists’rendering of the final design of Dr. Yunus’ medal is attached. The designs were provided by the United States Mint.
Professor Yunus will become only the seventh person in history to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. Former recipients of the Congressional Gold Medal include George Washington, Sir Winston Churchill, Elie Wiesel, Pope John Paul II, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King.
Durbin has long supported Professor Yunus and his work at the Grameen Bank. Last year, Durbin sponsored a resolution to award Professor Yunus the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award in the United States.
Durbin first met Professor Yunus in Bangladesh and has worked with him for more than ten years to advance microcredit and economic development in the world’s poorest nations. One of Professor Yunus’ greatest successes has been microcredit programs targeted toward poor women. Most of these programs have repayment rates greater than 95 percent and have helped women around the world change their lives and the lives of their families. It is for these efforts that Professor Yunus was awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.