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International Women of Courage Awards 2016


2016 Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award winners.

10 years, 60 countries, nearly 100 women. That was the milestone the U.S. Department of State marked with the 2016 Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award.

10 years, 60 countries, nearly 100 women. That was the milestone the U.S. Department of State marked with the 2016 Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award.

This year, 14 courageous women were honored.

Sara Hossain is a human rights lawyer who helped draft Bangladesh’s first comprehensive legislation on violence against women.

Nihal Naj Ali Al-Awlaqi is a pioneer in Yemen, where she serves as the Minister of Legal Affairs—and the only woman on Yemen’s official delegation to peace talks.

Debra Baptist-Estrada has refused bribes and uncovered drug and human trafficking operations in the male-dominated Belize Department of Immigrations.

Rodjaraeg Wattanapanit was subjected to so-called attitude readjustment because her bookstore promotes democracy and freedom of expression in Thailand.

Her son was killed by a terrorist. But today Latifa Ibn Ziaten works with families and young people to promote peace in France.

Vicky Ntetema investigated witchdoctors who murdered and sold the body parts of people with albinism. Despite threats against her, she remains an activist in Tanzania.

Thelma Aldana started her career as a janitor. Today, she is the Attorney General of Guatemala, where she works to end corruption and gender-based violence.

Awadeya Mahmoud was jailed for organizing women selling tea in Sudan. Thousands have joined her call for women’s economic empowerment.

Dr. Nagham Nawzat Hasan was one of the first to respond when ISIL killed, kidnapped, and brutalized Yezidi women and girls. She works to ensure survivors get the care they need.

Zuzana Stevulova stands up for the rights of migrants and refugees in Slovakia.

A judge threw Nisha Ayub [Nee-sha Ai-youb] in prison for being a transgender woman—but she emerged as determined as ever to fight for LGBT rights in Malaysia.

After her father was murdered for being an opposition leader, Zhanna Nemtsova committed herself to exposing corruption and supporting families of political prisoners in Russia.

Fatimata M’Baye is the first woman attorney in Mauritania—and one of the best. She’s taken on very difficult cases to protect human rights and dignity in her country.

For her work defending Chinese legal rights, Ni Yulan was thrown in prison, where she was beaten so badly she is now paralyzed from the waist down. Yet she continues her work on behalf of others.

These are 14 women of extraordinary courage, said Secretary of State Kerry. “One very clear message out of all of this: Don’t accept the unacceptable or wait for someone else to step up. Act in the name of justice, act in the name of tolerance, act in the name of truth.”

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