First Lady Melania Trump and the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas A. Shannon will present the 2017 Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage (IWOC) Award Wednesday.
The awards will be presented at a ceremony at the Department of State at 11 am eastern time.
International #WomenOfCourage has honored more than 100 courageous women from over 60 countries around the world. This year’s ceremony is meant to showcase and support a group of women who put their personal safety and sometimes lives at risk in order to help improve their communities. The award, now in its 11th year, honors those who have demonstrated exceptional courage, strength, and leadership in acting to advance the lives of others across the globe.
“It will be my great honor to share a stage with these amazing women. Each of the award recipients has overcome incredible odds in her pursuit to change the world and make it better, said” First Lady Melania Trump. “As women, we must continue to stand together with the steadfast goal of making our world safer through acts of collaborative and individual bravery. As we all know, wherever women are diminished, the entire world is diminished with them.”
The First Lady continued, “We need to continue working toward gender empowerment and respect for people from all backgrounds and ethnicities, always remembering that together we are one race the human race and each one of us has unique gifts and talents to share with the world.”
The 2017 awardees are:
- Sharmin Akter, Activist Against Early/ Forced Marriage, Bangladesh
- Malebogo Molefhe, Human Rights Activist, Botswana
- Natalia Ponce de Leon, President, Natalia Ponce de Leon Foundation, Colombia
- Rebecca Kabugho, Political and Social Activist, Democratic Republic of Congo
- Jannat Al Ghezi, Deputy Director of The Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, Iraq
- Major Aichatou Ousmane Issaka, Deputy Director of Social Work at the Military Hospital of Niamey, Niger
- Veronica Simogun, Director and Founder, Family for Change Association, Papua New Guinea
- Cindy Arlette Contreras Bautista, Lawyer and Founder of Not One Woman Less, Peru
- Sandya Eknelygoda, Human Rights Activist, Sri Lanka
- Sister Carolin Tahhan Fachakh, Member, Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (F.M.A.), Syria
- Saadet Ozkan, Educator and Gender Activist, Turkey
- Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, Blogger and Environmental Activist, Vietnam
- Fadia Najib Thabet, Human Rights Activist, Yemen
On April 1, the honorees will travel to cities across the United States to engage with the American people through an International Visitor Leadership Program. They will visit Atlanta, Denver, Des Moines, Minneapolis, New York, Pensacola, Pittsburgh, Portland, San Diego, and Tampa on their individual programs. The women will reconvene in Los Angeles to reflect on their visit and discuss ways to work together to improve the lives of women and girls around the world.