Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom Receives BMW Group-UNAOC Intercultural Innovation Award

The Muslim-Jewish American “Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom” is one of the ten organizations awarded this year with Intercultural Innovation Award by the BMW Group with the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC). The selection process was highly competitive, with over 1,200 applications from 128 countries.

The Award Ceremony was held on December 10, 2019 at the Royal Theatre in Madrid, Spain in front of representatives from the public and private sector, civil society and media. The Ceremony was chaired by the High Representative for UNAOC and former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain, H.E. Mr. Miguel Ángel Moratinos, and Mr. Bill McAndrews, Vice President Market Communications, BMW Group.

“As the Intercultural Innovation Award enters its sixth edition, UNAOC and the BMW Group continue to collaborate to magnify the work of cutting-edge social innovators,” said Mr. Moratinos during his opening remarks. “In today’s global context, marked by conflicts of a complex nature, civil society organizations have the power to influence individual behaviors and foster the values of respect and inclusion, and therefore play a critical role in advancing these values among their communities.”

“With the Intercultural Innovation Award we celebrate outstanding initiatives implemented by extraordinary individuals. They are working to bridge intercultural divisions in innovative and impactful ways. We at the BMW Group believe that diversity not only enhances our company, it is the very foundation on which our success is built. That is why we are so proud of our strong partnership with the UNAOC. This collaboration and the Intercultural Innovation Award enable us to recognize some of the remarkable cross-cultural work being done worldwide” said Mr. Bill McAndrews.


About the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom

The Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom is a Muslim-Jewish grassroots organization in North America, soon expanding to Germany, which focuses on interfaith engagement to build the respect, trust, and relationships necessary to prevent and combat hate, negative stereotyping and prejudice.  Through chapter meetings, regional and international gatherings, as well as various trainings and other resources, the organization’s “sisters” develop relationships and gain the skills to react quickly to incidents in their communities in order to stand together in the face of hate.

“This award proves what we set out to do: we could change the world one woman at a time,” said the organization’s Executive Director Sheryl Olitzky. “It demonstrates the impact of creating inclusive spaces that foster peace and love between Jewish and Muslim women,” added the organization’s co-founder Atiya Aftab.

The Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom has grown into a movement reaching thousands of women and girls, changing the way in which the two faith groups view each other, celebrating their commonalities, and respecting their differences.


About The Intercultural Innovation Award

  • Recognized its interfaith engagement to build respect, trust and intercultural understanding
  • Selected among over 1,200 applications from 128 countries
  • One-year long actively supported by the BMW Group and UNAOC

As a global company with a multi-national workforce, the BMW Group has been working for many year now to promote intercultural understanding and dialogue. Between 1997 and 2010, the BMW Group Award for Intercultural Learning was presented to 40 innovative projects aimed at fostering a sustainable and open relationship between different communities.

In 2010, the BMW Group decided to further develop the award under the motto “support in addition to financial reward”. For the first time, the awardees of the “BMW Group Award for Intercultural Commitment” received individual consultancy from company associates in addition to the prize money.

In 2011, the BMW Group started a unique partnership with the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) geared toward creating a new model for collaboration between the private sector and the United Nations system. Together, they established The Intercultural Innovation Award whose mandate is to select highly innovative grassroots projects that promote dialogue and intercultural understanding and make vital contributions to prosperity and peace in global societies.

This model of collaboration between the United Nations and the private sector creates a deeper impact, as both partners provide their respective expertise to ensure the sustainable growth of each project.

During the course of the year, the selected projects can reap the benefit of expertise and resources from the BMW Group and UNAOC. In addition to receiving a monetary prize, the finalists will have the opportunity to participate in training activities and workshops covering diverse subjects such as strategy and planning, implementation analysis and media training, as well as becoming members of the exclusive “Intercultural Leaders” network and receive customized project support based on their individual and specific needs.