The U.S. Department of State recently honored thirteen women from around the world for their exceptional courage and leadership in promoting justice in their communities.
First Lady Melania Trump and Under Secretary of State Thomas Shannon presented the 2017 International Women of Courage Awards. Mrs. Trump praised the recipients:
"Theirs are the stories of human greatness that will continue to inspire, and therefore must be told far and wide. These honorees, who have fought on the front lines against injustice, are true heroes,” she said.
Four of the thirteen awardees were nominated by U.S. Embassies located in the Middle East and Europe.
“[These women are] truly leading the charge to fight for those that cannot fight for themselves,” said Mrs. Trump.
“Together, we must declare that the era of allowing the brutality against women and children is over, while affirming that the time for empowering women around the world is now.”
Nominated by the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See, Sister Carolin Tahhan Fachakh is a Roman Catholic nun working at a nursery school in Damascus. Putting her own life at risk, Sister Carolin has become a beacon of hope to both Muslims and Christians, she helps refugees, internally displaced people, and children.
Fadia Thabet has risked her life to counter violent extremism in Yemen. Through her work, she dissuaded young boys from joining Al Qaeda, exposed its Yemeni branch Ansar al-Sharia as a recruiter of child soldiers, and documented for the United Nations cases of mining, abduction, rape, and other human rights violations by various armed groups.
After leaving an abusive situation, Jannat Al Ghezi’s life was threatened by her family because they believed she had dishonored them by sharing her story publicly. She now has helped break the culture of silence around domestic violence. As Director of the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq, Jannat has provided shelter, training, protection, and legal services to over 500 survivors of gender-based violence.
Former Turkish school teacher Saadet Ozkan exposed a decades-long pattern of sexual abuse of children in her school. As a result of her efforts, she forced a criminal investigation of the principal, despite tremendous pressure to drop the case.
“Their lives,” said Mrs. Trump, “Remind us of the boundless capacity of the human spirit when guided by moral clarity and desire to do good.”