At this year's Women of Courage Awards, the U.S. Department of State recognized 10 extraordinary women who courageously fight for their beliefs.
The first honoree, Roya Sadat, is a writer, director, and film producer from Afghanistan. She uses the arts to raise awareness of the brutal challenges facing women and girls, and despite threats to herself, her cast, and her crew, she’s served as a pioneer for women’s rights and women artists in Afghanistan.
Dr. Julissa Villanueva is from Honduras and is being honored for tackling pervasive violence against women, changing the face of criminal accountability through the use of scientific evidence, and facing down gang violence.
Aliyah Khalaf Saleh is an Iraqi humanitarian volunteer working to resist sectarian and radical ideology. She is credited with rescuing 58 young Iraqi military cadets who were ambushed by ISIS back in 2014.
Sister Maria Elena Berini works at a Catholic mission in the Central African Republic and is being honored for her service to counter hatred, injustice, and war-related horrors in the Central African Republic.
A Kazakh lawyer and human rights defender, Aiman Umarova is being honored for improving laws to address violence against women and children.
Dr. Feride Rushiti, from Kosovo, is being honored for decades of advocacy on behalf of civilian victims of Kosovo’s war.
L’Malouma Said is a former slave from Mauritania. She is now a deputy member of parliament in Mauritania’s National Assembly and is being honored for her relentless activism in the fight against slavery.
As the founder and coordinator of a nongovernmental organization dedicated to helping widows and orphans of the Rwandan genocide, Godelive Mukasarasi is being honored for her role in bringing women’s voices to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
Sirikan Charoensiri is a lawyer and human rights defender in Thailand and is being honored for standing up for human rights.
Aura Elena Farfan, from Guatemala, was recognized in absentia due to illness. She is being honored for enabling the prosecution of former military officers involved in extrajudicial killings.
In recognizing [these women]”, said First Lady Melania Trump, “we stand for what is right. In telling their stories, we can teach young women and girls all over the world what it means to have courage and to be a hero.”