Almost every day, I have the opportunity to meet women who refuse to let restrictive environments hinder their determination to demand the same rights, opportunities, and futures as any person.
This week, one of those women was Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez, one of many voices across the global blogosphere advocating freedom of expression, human rights, and dignity for all citizens. Through her blog "Generacion Y (Generation Y)," Ms. Sanchez regularly provides her followers with deep and penetrating insights about life in her country.
Generacion Y currently receives 12 million hits a month and is translated into 21 languages. Her Twitter feed has more than 450,000 followers. Ms. Sanchez always maintains a respectful tone because -- in her words -- she refuses to participate in "the cycle of intolerance that is an obstacle to reasoned debate."
The Department of State is committed to advancing Internet freedom as an integral aspect of the right to freedom of expression and, in 2011, selected her as one of the recipients for receive the Secretary of State's International Woman of Courage Award. But at the time, the Cuban government barred her from traveling to the United States to receive the award, and she was unable to join her fellow honorees.
This year, however, new regulations governing travel outside Cuba made it possible for her to visit other countries, and during her visit to the United States we gave her a long overdue welcome to the Department of State. I was delighted to have the opportunity to show our appreciation for what she has done -- and continues to do -- in the name of dignity for the Cuban people.