International Women’s Day: The White House Hosts the Women Of Courage Award Ceremony for the First time

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March 8th is International Women’s day, a Day when all women around the world are celebrated. It is also the day we celebrate how far women are coming from, women who fight to make a change and fight for equality, politics, and economics.

First Lady Jill Biden and  Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken will host the International Women’s Courage Award (IWOC) at the white house for the first time in the 17th year.  IWOC was founded in 2007 to celebrate and recognize remarkable women who have been working and fighting toward a change in society, women who showcase themselves as a leader, are strong, and have a great amount of courage and strength. The U.S. State Department has recognized over 180 women in 80 different countries.

In his support of International Women’s Day, President Joe Biden shared an uplifting message about strong women and how essential women are in history “International Women’s Day honors a truth we live every day—that women and girls are essential to success and progress in every aspect of our society. Promoting opportunities for women and girls strengthens security, stability, and prosperity for everyone. And we know that we cannot solve any of the great global challenges of our time if half the population is left behind,” President Biden said. The Award Ceremony will honor 11 remarkable women fighting to build a brighter future and have equality at all costs.

Professor Danièle Darlan, the former President of the Central African Republic’s Constitutional Court, has earned the title of an International Woman of Courage for the defense of her nation’s constitution, her heroism in safeguarding judicial independence, and her refusal to be influenced by threats or political pressure.”

Dr. Zakira Hekmat was born in Afghanistan, now residing in Türkiye. Dr. Hekmat completed high school secretly under the Taliban’s first period of control.  After winning a scholarship to study in Türkiye, she eventually qualified as a medical doctor in 2018. From a one-room office, she founded the Afghan Refugee Solidarity Association in Türkiye in 2014, where she has since worked tirelessly to advocate for the rights of all refugees and women.”

Ms. Alba Rueda is an Argentina politician  and the first Argentine Undersecretary for Diversity Policies in the newly created Ministry of Women, Gender, and Diversity.  Ms. Rueda was the driving force behind Argentina’s executive order on the transgender labor quota in the public sector which was converted into the Transgender Labor Quota Act.”

Doris Ríos is a recognized Cabécarindigenous leader and well-respected member of the China Kichá indigenous community.  Ms. Ríos is involved in multiple influential initiatives to improve indigenous lives.  She is the Vice-president of the National Indigenous Board of Costa Rica, which implements programs for indigenous communities centered around agriculture, animal care, reforestation, and cultural training.”  

Meaza Mohammed, a veteran Ethiopian journalist, is the founder of Roha TV, an independent YouTube-based news and information channel.  Such channels have become increasingly popular in Ethiopia, where broadcast media are almost entirely state-controlled, as a way to disseminate news and analysis that diverges from the official government line.”

“Human rights activist Hadeel Abdel Aziz is a frontline defender of Jordan’s most marginalized, including juveniles, refugees, migrants, and survivors of sexual and gender-based violence. As founder of the Justice Center for Legal Aid (JCLA), a leading legal aid provider in Jordan, Ms. Abdel Aziz has built a nationwide network of clinics that provide services to thousands of vulnerable individuals every year.”

Bakhytzhan Toregozhina is a civil society activist who has campaigned for the protection of fundamental human rights in Kazakhstan for nearly twenty-five years. Since January 2022, she has been the head of “Qantar 2022” (January 2022) a coalition of civil society organizations working to assist victims and document human rights violations associated with the widespread unrest that occurred in Kazakhstan last January.”

Senator Datuk Ras Adiba Radzi has spent most of her professional life advancing and promoting human rights, selflessly advocating for vulnerable populations, and using her platforms to shed light on injustices in Malaysian society.   She was first known as a famous broadcast journalist and news presenter, television presenter, and sports commentator.”

“In nearly 30 years of service to her country, Brigadier General Bolor Ganbold has achieved a series of firsts that have broken barriers and opened the door for other women to follow; from being the first female cadet admitted to the Military University of Mongolia to being Mongolia’s first female staff officer assigned to a United Nations Peacekeeping Operation. On March 18, 2022, Brigadier General Bolor earned yet another first, becoming the first woman general in the Mongolian Armed Forces.”

Bianka Zalewska is a Polish humanitarian and journalist who has selflessly documented Russian aggression in Ukraine since 2014 and advocated for the people of Ukraine for more than a decade.  She persevered through life-threatening injuries suffered when her press car came under fire from Russian proxy forces in Luhansk Oblast in 2014.”

Yuliia “Taira” Paievska has demonstrated extraordinary moral and physical courage in defending Ukraine against relentless Russian aggression.  She provided medical treatment to Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity protestors in 2013, and as head of Taira’s Angels, a volunteer unit of paramedics, she provided tactical medical training on the Donbas front lines from 2014 to 2018.

Madeleine Albright Honorary Group Award – the Women and Girl Protestors of Iran The September 16 death of Mahsa (Zhina) Amini, visiting Tehran from her home in Kurdistan, while in the custody of Iran’s so-called “Morality Police,” sparked months of grassroots, women-led protests across Iran’s 31 provinces.  Iran’s state-sponsored violence against women has a long history, yet Amini’s brutal killing touched a nerve in Iranian society, galvanizing a protest movement.  

International Women’s Day is not only to celebrate how long women have been fighting but to also celebrate the changes that women will bring to the future. Women are still trying to make a change and fight for gender equality, “As we continue working to implement our first-ever National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality, we are focused on lifting up the rights of women and girls through every aspect of both our foreign and domestic policy. This is a defining feature of who we are as a nation and the values we hold dear as Americans,” President Biden said.

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Written By: Karesha Graham

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