The U.S. State Department recently honored women with the International Women of Courage Award. The winners are among ninety-five women who were nominated by American embassies worldwide. The awards are an opportunity, said U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, "to pay tribute to women from around the world who courageously champion equal rights in their communities."
Among the award winners is Suraya Pakzad, founder of Voice of Women, a non-governmental organization based in Herat, Afghanistan. She provides shelter and counseling to women who have run away from abusive relationships and forced marriages.
Other honorees include Begum Jan. She is a practicing doctor in Pakistan and chairperson of the Tribal Women Welfare Association, a group that helps women improve their economic and social standing. Award recipient Nibal Thawabteh, a Palestinian, has developed a training manual for women on how to run for political office. She also founded a monthly newsletter.
Another honoree is Cynthia Bendlin from Paraguay. She is a leader in combating the trafficking of women in her country. Honoree Valdete Idrizi of Kosovo is an ethnic Albanian who frequently crosses over into Serb-controlled territory in order to run women and youth projects in northern Serbia. Virisila Buadromo from Fiji works as an advocate for women's development and human rights.
The final honoree is from Africa. Farhiyo Farah Ibrahim is a Somali refugee who has dedicated her life to fighting female genital mutilation and forced marriage in a refugee camp in Kenya.
The United States, said Secretary of State Rice, remains deeply committed to helping women of courage everywhere to peacefully remove the barriers to political, economic, and social empowerment for themselves and for others.