The U.S. Department of State in early March recognized ten women from around the globe with the Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award. They were honored for their outstanding contributions to peace, human rights, gender equality, and social progress. These are women who speak and act against injustice, inequality, and insecurity. Some work to improve their communities, or to better the plight of women and children. Others forge a path for others to follow.
They include journalists who expose crimes against women, or ties between violent extremists and local organizations; advocates for human rights and peaceful reconciliation of conflict; founders of NGOs that help women succeed, or those that band women together to seek to redress injustice. One is a nurse who contracted Ebola while treating others for the disease, recovered, and returned to work; another is Afghanistan’s first female fixed-wing Air Force pilot.
“Women are more than victims,” said Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues Catherine Russell:
“We know that women are also important agents of change in their countries, that they do positive courageous things every day and we want that to be part of this narrative too.We want to show that a woman, even a woman who hasn’t been involved in politics can have a huge impact on her country and you’ve seen some of those nominees today.”
“You need to have courage, first of all, not fear,” said awardee Arbana Xharra, a Kosovar journalist:
“I’m the mom of two kids, of course I have to work ten to twelve hours a day and having threats and all of it, but if you are determined to go on and just go after your dream then just, not be afraid.”
“Any person in the world can be a person of courage,” said Ambassador Russell. “You just have to take a challenge and address it as best you can.”