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A Sri Lankan Woman Of Courage

Jansila Majeed was one of tens of thousands of civilians displaced during 3 decades of violent conflict in Sri Lanka.

Jansila Majeed, one of tens of thousands of civilians displaced during 3 decades of violent conflict in Sri Lanka, has been selected by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to be one of 10 recipients of the Department of State's International Women of Courage Award.

Ms. Majeed is the Managing Trustee of Community Trust Fund in Sri Lanka's Puttalam district. The Trust oversees a number of programs on minority and women's issues, including women's rights, peace building, relief work, working with young people, and mine-risk education in the North and East. Ms. Majeed's own particular focus is on uniting the Muslim and Tamil communities in her province.

Having lived as an internally displaced person (IDP) for almost 20 years, Ms. Majeed has become an energetic activist for services for displaced Muslim and Tamil civilians. She focuses particularly on grassroots programs on life skills, health, and women's empowerment. Her activism began in 1992 with a working group of 5 people. She overcame struggles both as an IDP and as a woman activist, going on to build a broad-based organization that works on minority and women's issues in a highly sensitive and politicized environment. "This award is not just for me but for all the women who have suffered as I have," said Ms. Majeed.

The International Women of Courage Award was started in March 2007 to recognize women around the globe who have shown exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for women's rights and advancement.

The other awardees this year are: Shukria Asil and Colonel Shafiqa Quraishi, of Afghanistan; Androula Henriques of Cyprus; Sonia Pierre of the Dominican Republic; Shadi Sadr of Iran; Ann Njogu of Kenya; Dr. Lee Ae-ran of the Republic of Korea; Sister Marie Claude Naddaf of Syria; and Jestina Mukoko of Zimbabwe.

Secretary Clinton said that the United States is making women’s issues a cornerstone of its foreign policy. "Investing in the potential of the world's women and girls," she said, "is one of the surest ways to achieve global economic progress, political stability, and greater prosperity for women and men the world over."