International Women of Courage Awards were presented on International Womens Day, Wednesday, March 10.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama honored a number of outstanding women for their courage in standing for women's rights around the world. To quote from Secretary Clinton's remarks at the event:
I am particularly delighted to welcome back to the State Department our First Lady, Michelle Obama. (Applause.) This is the second time that Michelle Obama and I have celebrated the International Women of Courage Awards together. It’s a tradition I really like because she is doing so much for women and girls not only in our own country, but around the world. She inspires them. She challenges them. She exemplifies for them the kind of strength, warmth, and grace that so many of us see in her and aspire to for our own daughters. She has made the health and empowerment of young people, particularly young women, a centerpiece of her leadership. And she and I agree on many things, but one that we particularly agree on is that every child should have the chance to fulfill his or her God-given potential. And I just have to thank her for the mentoring programs that she created at the White House, for the special project that she is doing now to tackle childhood obesity, and to really setting the standard for what we want to see in our own country and around the world as well.
And I want to thank and recognize – I want to also recognize Melanne Verveer. (Applause.) Melanne is our country’s first Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, and it’s no accident that that would happen in the Obama Administration, where we would have someone of her experience and expertise promoting the political, economic, and social empowerment of women. As Melanne often reminds us, the world is full of remarkable women whose work goes unnoticed or undervalued. And today, we celebrate some particular women, but they really stand in for millions of other women who are serving their communities and making our world a better and safer place for all.
********** [Each honoree was presented with her award between the following segments]
What we’re going to do now is actually present the honorees. I will read the awards citations and then Mrs. Obama and I will present them with their International Women of Courage Award. I’d like to note that we’re going to start with two women from Afghanistan, so let me start with Shukria Asil – (applause) – as one of four female members of the Baghlan Provincial Council. Ms. Asil has been instrumental in promoting government responsiveness to the needs of Afghan women. She is being honored for pioneering efforts to promote opportunity, justice, and education for women and girls; serving as a voice for diverse members of Afghan society; and at great personal risk, increasing the accountability and responsiveness of the government to the needs of women and girls in Afghanistan. Thank you so much, Ms. Asil. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: I woke up to the voice of this next honoree because she was interviewed on public radio, NPR, this morning. And Colonel Shafiqa Quraishi of Afghanistan is the Director of Gender, Human, and Child rights within the Ministry of the Interior. She began her career in the Afghan National Police. She has been at the forefront of integrating women into the government and police force. And she is being honored for her visionary leadership in breaking down barriers to the professional advancement of Afghan women, promoting unity and gender equality, humanitarian activism, and initiating programs to strengthen the Afghan National Police. Congratulations, Colonel. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: You heard Mrs. Obama speaking of this next honoree, Sonia Pierre of the Dominican Republic. She was born on Dominican soil to Haitian parents. She is the founder and leader of the Movement for Dominican Women of Haitian Descent, an NGO dedicated to fighting for the rights of vulnerable communities in her country. She is being honored for advancing the cause of social justice, confronting exploitation and discrimination, defending the dignity of persons of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic, and helping marginalized communities develop their own voices for their own future. Congratulations, Sonia. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Ann Njogu of Kenya is the co-convener of the Civil Society Congress – (cheers and applause) – a leader in constitutional reform and head of the Center for Rights, Education, and Awareness. She has been an activist seeking social transformation and working for reform in her native country. She is being honored for progressive leadership in the fight against corruption, the push for gender equality in Kenya, the battle for constitutional reform, and for bravely mobilizing Kenyan civil society to secure the passage of landmark legislation against sexual offenses. (Applause and cheers.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Dr. Lee Ae-ran of South Korea was born in North Korea. She was a witness to tyranny at a very early age. She defected to South Korea and transformed her life, where she has been a force for promoting human rights of the North Korean refugee community. She is being honored for spearheading initiatives to improve the lives and education of the North Korean refugee community in South Korea, elevating the empowerment of women, and raising awareness of the dire human rights situation in North Korea. Congratulations, Dr. Lee. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Jansila Majeed of Sri Lanka is a women who lived as an internally displaced person for almost 20 years. She became one of the few women activists working on behalf of the displaced Muslim and Tamil civilians and is the managing trustee of the Community Trust Fund in Puttalam Province. She’s being honored for her dedicated grassroots activism and minority community leadership on behalf of women and girls, their empowerment, peace building, relief work, the resettlement of internally displaced persons, and a commitment to bringing society together. Congratulations.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Sister Marie Claude Naddaf is the Mother Superior of the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd. She has been a beacon of hope for women and girls who have nowhere else to turn. She is a pioneer in working for social services for women in Syria. She is being honored for her steadfast dedication to ending the suffering of women and girls who are victims of domestic violence, sexual exploitation, and human trafficking. She launched Syria’s first shelter and emergency hotline for women. Thank you so much, Sister. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: And the final honoree who could be with us today is Jestina Mukoko of Zimbabwe. Jestina is the Executive Director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project and a longtime leader in the human rights and activist community in her country. She is being honored for her relentless activism for justice and defense of human rights, for bringing attention to widespread violence against women in Zimbabwe, and for pursuing her case to the supreme court, resulting in a victory that has offered hope to her fellow citizens. Congratulations. (Applause and cheers.)
Here are some very interesting facts, pulled from the U.S. Census Bureau about the state of womanhood… It comes from Women's History Month, a blog post by Lijit.com (3/5/10).
[Post date: 3/11/10]
Blogs: My general purpose/southwest focus blog is at Southwest Progressive. My creative website is at Making Good Mondays. And Carol Gee - Online Universe is the all-in-one home page for all my websites.
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