U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has announced this year's recipients of the International Women of Courage Award. The award was started in March 2007 to recognize women around the globe who have shown exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for human rights and women’s equality.
One of this year's 10 winners is Shukria Asil of Afghanistan. She serves as one of 4 female members of the Baghlan Provincial Council where she advocates for government accountability for women's needs. Also from Afghanistan is Colonel Shafiqa Quraishi, who works to integrate women into the government and police force.
Androula Henriques from Cyprus is another award winner. She has fought for years against the buying and selling of women and created her own anti-trafficking network.
Ann Njogu of Kenya has spent her life fighting corruption. She was arrested in 2008 along with 6 others, beaten, and sexually molested by police when the group raised the issue of possible corruption in the sale of a major hotel. The matter is still pending.
Advocating on behalf of women's rights in Iran is award recipient Shadi Sadr. She founded "Women of Iran," the first website dedicated to the work of Iranian women's rights activists and has advocated against stoning. Ms. Sadr was arrested in July, 2009. After being released, she fled to Germany where she continues to work on behalf of women's legal rights.
Award winner Dr. Lee Ae-ran fled North Korea in 1997 and is the first North Korean defector to run for South Korea's national assembly and the first to earn a doctoral degree. She now helps other defectors to reach the same levels of achievement.
The other award recipients include Sonia Pierre of the Dominican Republic, Sister Marie Claude of Syria, Jansila Majeed of Sri Lanka, and Jestina Mukoko of Zimbabwe.
"These ten women have overcome personal adversity, threats, arrest, and assault to dedicate themselves to activism for human rights," said Melanne Verveer, the State Department’s Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues.
"From striving to give more voice to politically underrepresented women in Afghanistan to documenting human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, these heroic individuals have made it their life’s work to increase freedom and equality in the world."