Giuseppina Nicolini

Deputy Mayor of Lampedusa Island (Italy) at the age of 23, Giusepina Nicolini dedicated her life to her hometown. Strongly standing for ecology, she has since then been fighting  continuously and ardently for the protection of the environment and against property speculation on the island.

At the age of 56, Giusepina Nicolini’s  spontaneity, humanity, courage and determination are praised by many Italians . In the face of threats and intimidations, she resists to the point of forging her own legend, earning herself the nickname of ”the lioness ". Indeed, with the 6 000 inhabitants on her island, Giusepina Nicolini welcomes the migrants and, too often, buries the dead.

Lampedusa Island is one of the main entry points for illegal immigration in Europe. It is also an island sorrowfully affected by the recurrence of shipwrecked migrants these last few years. Every year thousands of migrants flee  to this island, which is closer to Tunisia than to Sicily.

Since her election in May 2012as Mayor of  Lampedusa and Linosa Islands, Giusepina Nicolini has been fighting for the rights of migrants. She welcomes them when they arrive piled up in makeshift boats. Every day, dozens of thousands of migrants arrive on the island. Every day, she welcomes the traumatized survivors, organizes their survival on the island, notes the names of those lost at sea, but also, and most importantly, tries to mobilize the Italian and European authorities in view of finding real solutions.

It is with strength that she declares that the deaths of Lampedusa are the deaths of the whole  of Europe It is necessary to open humanitarian corridors; nobody should have to die for having tried to live.

Through her unwavering commitment to  the management of the migration crisis; her efforts in favour of the dialogue between communities and cultures; and the integration of thousands of migrants arriving on the coast of Lampedusa, she managed to move José Manuel Barroso, former President of the European Commission, as well as the Pope. Sensitive to Mrs Nicolini's action, the Holy Father went to Lampedusa in 2013 and, along with her, jointly  issued a vibrant call for solidarity.

Giusepina Nicolini, symbol of hospitality towards migrants, also received in 2016 the  Simone de Beauvoir Prize for Women’s Freedom, honoring her action towards the rescue and rights of migrants,

Back to top