On March 7, the Secretary of State hosted the 2019 International Women of Courage Awards alongside First Lady Melania Trump, honoring 10 extraordinary women from around the world. This prestigious award recognizes courageous women leaders from around the world who have advocated on behalf of human rights, women’s equality, and social progress, often at great personal risk.
Here are some highlights from the event:
Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo Hosts Award Ceremony and Delivers Remarks
Secretary Pompeo delivered remarks emphasizing the importance of women’s empowerment to U.S. national security and foreign policy goals, highlighting the inspirational stories of the award recipients and honorees.
First Lady of the United States Melania Trump Delivers Special Remarks
In her remarks, the First Lady discussed the importance of recognizing the work of women throughout time and celebrated recent milestones for women, including that more women are serving in Congress today than any other time in history, and that women’s unemployment is at a 65-year low.
Award Recipient Naw K’Nyaw Paw Discusses Human Rights in Burma
Ms. Naw K’Nyaw Paw is a peace activist and lifelong human rights supporter, as well as General Secretary of the Karen Women’s Organization (KWO), a women’s organization of over 60,000 members that supports gender equality and indigenous rights in Burma. She discussed her work on achieving peace and promoting a united civilian government in Burma, while improving the lives of women and children in conflict-affected communities in Karen State.
Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Marie Royce Promotes the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP)
Assistant Secretary Royce discussed how awardees will inspire Americans on their IVLP travels, emphasizing that “courage is contagious.”
What's Next for the 2019 #WomenofCourage?
Following the ceremony and Washington, DC portion of the program, award recipients will embark on the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). They will visit cities across the United States, traveling individually to Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis, Pensacola, Portland, San Diego, and Seattle. They will meet with Americans across the country and make connections that will help advance their work to empower women and advocate for human rights in their countries. The awardees will reconvene in Los Angeles at the conclusion of their IVLP.
International Women of Courage 2019 Honorees
We also honored other inspiring women who have worked to create more just, inclusive, and equal societies, who could not join the event.
Last year, dozens of Iranian women protested the law requiring them to wear the hijab in public at all times. They took off their hijabs in the city streets and were punished for their protests, with some tortured and beaten in jail.
Kateryna Handzyuk of Ukraine was a bold activist who worked to uncover and call out corruption. A brutal acid attack claimed her life, and she paid the ultimate price for her courageous efforts.
About the Author: Emily Belson serves in the Secretary's Office of Global Women's Issues at the U.S. Department of State.
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