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The Secretary of State's 2009 International Women of Courage Awards


Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
March 5, 2009

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In celebration of International Women’s Day, the Department of State announces the recipients of the third annual Secretary of State’s Award for International Women of Courage. This is the only award within the Department of State that pays tribute to outstanding women leaders worldwide. It recognizes the courage and leadership shown as they struggle for social justice and human rights.

This year, the Secretary of State will pay tribute to honorees representing Afghanistan, Guatemala, Iraq, Malaysia, Niger, Russia, Uzbekistan, and Yemen. They are among over 80 exceptional women nominated by U.S. Embassies worldwide for their extraordinary work in advancing human rights. The women will be in Washington from March 8 – 12 for a program of meetings with government officials, NGOs and the media. The Office of International Visitors is partnering with the Office of International Women’s Issues on this project.

The 2009 recipients of the Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Awards are:

Ms. Wazhma Frogh (Afghanistan)
Wazhma Frogh is the Afghanistan Country Director for the NGO Global Rights and a dynamic leader in the fight against domestic violence, marital and child rape, and sexual abuse in Afghanistan.

Ms. Norma Cruz (Guatemala)
Norma Cruz is on the forefront of women who are fighting on behalf of victims of violence and sexual abuse. As director of the NGO Survivors Foundation, Ms. Cruz combats the widespread impunity that too often accompanies the endemic violence against women in Guatemala.

Ms. Suaad Allami (Iraq)
A prominent lawyer, Suaad Allami fights against the erosion of women's rights and defends the most disadvantaged. She founded the NGO Women for Progress and the Sadr City Women's Center, which offers free medical care, literacy education, vocational training, and legislative advocacy. She has accepted a Humphrey Fellowship from the State Department for academic year 2009-2010.

Ms. Ambiga Sreenevasan (Malaysia)
An accomplished lawyer who became President of the Malaysian Bar Council, Ambiga Sreenevasan masterfully uses the rule of law to advance human rights, the status of women, and religious tolerance. In the face of death threats and intimidation, Ms. Ambiga has emerged as a strong voice of tolerance and justice.

Ms. Hadizatou Mani (Niger)
Sold to a "master" at the age of 12 for the equivalent of $500, Hadizatou Mani persevered in gaining her freedom and helped pave the way for others trapped in similar circumstances to seek justice. Through her valiant efforts, persistence, and refusal to succumb to social pressure to abandon her case, she won a historic, precedent-setting decision in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court of Justice that condemned her enslavement.

Ms. Veronika Marchenko (Russia)
Veronika Marchenko is the head of the NGO Mother’s Right, and has demonstrated exceptional bravery and leadership in exposing the truth surrounding the disturbing peacetime deaths within the Russian armed forces. Ms. Marchenko has successfully sought justice on behalf of bereaved families of servicemen who died as a result of cruel and inhumane conditions.

Ms. Mutabar Tadjibayeva (Uzbekistan)
Imprisoned for criticizing her government's handling of events surrounding the 2005 violence in the city of Andijon, Mutabar Tadjibayeva refuses to be silenced. She has returned to human rights advocacy, and remains a fearless critic of human rights abuses.

Ms. Reem Al Numery (Yemen)
When she was 12, Reem Al Numery had her childhood cut short when she was forced to marry her 30-year -old cousin. She has emerged as a strong and brave voice on behalf of other girls facing a similar fate. Her courage has inspired a widespread drive against child marriages in Yemen.



PRN: 2009/191



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