Muhammad Yunus Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

Will Receive America’s Highest Civilian Honor

July 30, 2009 - Grameen Foundation is pleased to announce that Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus, founder and managing director of Grameen Bank, and member emeritus of Grameen Foundation’s board of directors, has been awarded a 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom.Dr. Yunus will receive his medal from President Barack Obama at a special White House ceremony on August 12. Click here to view White House ceremony.

In announcing this year’s recipients, President Obama said, "These outstanding men and women represent an incredible diversity of backgrounds… Yet they share one overarching trait: Each has been an agent of change. Each saw an imperfect world and set about improving it, often overcoming great obstacles along the way. “
Dr. Yunus is one of 16 recipients who include Archbishop Desmond Tutu; Mary Robinson, former prime minster of Ireland; Senator Ted Kennedy; Justice Sandra Day O’Conner; and Reverend Dr. Joseph Lowery.

“Professor Muhammad Yunus’ unwavering belief in the power of poor people to help themselves escape poverty is an inspiration to all of us. Thirty-three years after he began working with and financing the entrepreneurial initiative of poor people outside his university classroom in his native Bangladesh, his challenge to all of us remains working to root out poverty wherever it exists. His leadership and advocacy, has helped create a groundswell that has opened up microfinance to more than 150 million poor families around the world. I had the privilege of working with Professor Yunus in Bangladesh for six years and I am especially gratified that he is being honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his unprecedented accomplishments,” said Alex Counts, president of Grameen Foundation.

Deemed the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom honors those who have made "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States or to world peace or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors." Past recipients include Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Muhammad Ali and Martin Luther King, Jr.