A #Meetup to Remember: International Women of Courage

Posted by Vinay Chawla
March 5, 2014
First Lady Obama, Under Secretary Stengel, and Assistant Secretary Ryan With Participants from the IWOC Meetup

Since coming to the Department of State, Secretary Kerry often reminds his leadership team and all of us that work here that we have an obligation to “make foreign policy less foreign,” meaning that we need to make it more accessible. There are many ways we do that, especially on social media.  Last week, we invited individuals interested in attending the International Women of Courage award ceremony to submit their request via social media. On Tuesday, the Department of State’s digital team hosted a group  of individuals that applied for the 2014 International Women of Courage award ceremony. Our meetups are an opportunity to go behind the scenes, see the Department at work, and ask Department of State officials questions. In a nutshell, make Foggy Bottom a little less foggy. The group that attended comes from a variety of backgrounds and are a remarkable group in and of themselves, including an author, bloggers, public relations professionals, and all passionate advocates for women's rights.

Before the ceremony, our meetup participants were given the opportunity to meet Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Evan Ryan, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Richard Stengel, and First Lady Michelle Obama.

As they settled into the Dean Acheson Auditorium, our participants mingled amongst themselves and prepared to live-blog the ceremony.

Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Catherine Russell kicked off the ceremony, followed by Dr. Vanessa Kerry who stood in for her father, Secretary Kerry, who had to travel unexpectedly to Ukraine. Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Heather Higginbottom and First Lady Michelle Obama delivered remarks and also honored the ten exceptional women selected to receive this year’s International Women of Courage Award.

After the ceremony, the participants and other guests made their way up to the Benjamin Franklin Room on the 8th floor of the Department of State for a reception in honor of the IWOC awardees.

We were grateful to have this opportunity to engage with our online community face to face and help share the extraordinary stories of the International Women of Courage awardees. The meetup participants’ energy, feedback, and unique individual experience made the event successful.

Don't forget that Saturday, March 8, is International Women's Day! Continue the conversation on women's issues using the hashtags #IWOC and #IWD and by posting a photo of your women of courage using the hashtag #WeAreCourage. We'll highlight a few of your stories on @StateDept on Saturday.

Missed the chance to be a part of our IWOC Meetup? Stay tuned to @StateDept for information on future events!



Ananda L.
District Of Columbia, USA
March 9, 2014
Ananda in Washington, D.C. writes: Thank you everyone at the State Department for inviting me to participate in the International Women of Courage Award Ceremony. It was a great honor to meet FLOTUS Mrs. Obama, IWOC awardees, State Department officials, and the amazing State Department digital engagement team. It was truly a day to remember! I am so grateful that I was able to express my passion for global women's issues as a digital citizen! Now I am a State Department fan for life!


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