On March 8, 2021 at 10:00 AM EST, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and the Office of Global Women’s Issues will host the 15th annual International Women of Courage (IWOC) Ceremony, which will feature remarks from First Lady Dr. Jill Biden. Each year, the U.S. Department of State honors women from around the world who have demonstrated exceptional courage, strength, and leadership in acting to improve the lives of others. This award brings international attention and shines a light on women who have put their personal safety, and often their lives, at risk to improve their communities and inspire fellow citizens.
Since 2007, the Department has recognized more than 155 awardees from over 75 countries. The women are nominated by U.S. diplomatic missions overseas and finalists are selected by the Secretary of State. This year, the Department is honoring a group of inspiring women, including an honorary posthumous group award to honor seven women from Afghanistan who were assassinated while serving their communities. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the year’s ceremony will be held virtually, and attendees are encouraged to watch the ceremony live at state.gov.
Muskan Khatun of Nepal is being honored as a #WomenofCourage for her dedication to bring about new legislation criminalizing acid attacks and imposing strong penalties against perpetrators in Nepal. pic.twitter.com/P2cqwZXT4s
— Department of State (@StateDept) March 6, 2021
Following the ceremony, the awardees will participate in an International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) Virtual exchange, during which they will connect with Americans from across the country and meet with community leaders in their respective fields. The IVLP will provide professional development opportunities and connect the women with American universities, businesses, non-profit organizations, and others, as they discuss women’s challenges around the world.
Gender equality and women’s empowerment are central tenets of our foreign policy and national security. The United States is dedicated to protecting and advancing the health, economic, political, and human rights of all women and girls, because we know that when women are empowered, the world benefits.
Read the media note announcing the 2021 International Women of Courage Recipients here.
Visit our website here to learn more about the awardees for the 15th annual International Women of Courage.
About the Author: Katherine A. Zitzer is a Regional Advisor in the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues at the U.S. Department of State.