Women are hard at work in every country and on every continent, demanding their right to participate in the political, economic and cultural lives of their societies. The U.S. State Department recently honored eight such women with the International Women of Courage Awards.
One of the award recipients is Wazhma Frogh from Afghanistan. She is the Afghanistan Country Director for the non-governmental organization Global Rights and a leader in the fights against domestic violence, marital and child rape, and sexual abuse in Afghanistan.
Norma Cruz does similar work in her home country of Guatemala. As head of the NGO Survivors Foundation, she fights on behalf of victims of violence and sexual abuse.
Another Women of Courage award winner is Hadizatou Mani of Niger. Sold into slavery at 12 for $500, Ms. Mani said, "I was negotiated over like a goat." She persevered in gaining her freedom and helped pave the way for others trapped in similar circumstances to seek justice.
Mutabar Tadjibayeva was imprisoned for criticizing the Uzbek government's handling of the 2005 violent crackdown in the city of Andijon. Ms. Tadjibayeva has fearlessly returned to human rights advocacy.
Yemen woman's rights activist Reem Al Numery's childhood was abruptly shattered at age 12 when she was forced to marry her 30-year-old cousin. Ms. Al Numery's advocacy on behalf of girls has inspired a widespread drive against child marriages in Yemen.
Veronika Marchenko of Russia, Suaad Allami of Iraq, and Ambiga Sreenevasan of Malaysia were also named winners of the International Women of Courage Awards.
"As we celebrate the accomplishments and the untapped potential of women around the world," said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, "we must remind ourselves that ensuring the rights of women and girls is not only a matter of justice. It is a matter of enhancing global peace, progress, and prosperity for generations to come."