First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry Present International Women of Courage Awards

First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry honor the recipients of the International Women of Courage Award

First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry honor the recipients of the International Women of Courage Award in the Dean Acheson Auditorium at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., March 8, 2013. Seated, from left, are: awardee Malalai Bahaduri, First Sergeant, Afghan National Interdiction Unit, Afghanistan; awardee Julieta Castellanos, Rector, National Autonomous University of Honduras, Honduras; awardee Dr. Josephine Obiajulu Odumakin, President, Campaign for Democracy, Nigeria; Secretary of State John Kerry; Teresa Heinz Kerry, Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman; awardee Elena Milashina, journalist and human rights activist, Russia; and awardee Fartuun Adan, Executive Director, Elman Peace and Human Rights Centre, Somalia. Awarded in absentia were Tsering Woeser (Wei Se), Tibetan author, poet, blogger, China; Razan Zeitunah, human rights lawyer and Founder, Local Coordination Committees,Syria; Ta Phong Tan, blogger,Vietnam; and Nirbhaya “Fearless,” champion for justice, India. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry marked International Women's Day at the State Department where they presented the International Women of Courage Awards to nine remarkable women who, as Mrs. Obama said in her remarks, show us what our most basic values look like when they are put to the test.

When these women witnessed horrific crimes or the disregard for basic human rights they spoke up, risking everything they had to see that justice was done.  When they saw their communities or their countries were ignoring issues like sexual violence or women’s rights, they gave those issues a face and a voice.  And with every act of strength and defiance, with every blog post, with every community meeting, these women have inspired millions to stand with them, and find their own voices, and work together to achieve real and lasting change. 

Young women from the White House Leadership and Mentoring Initiative were in the audience, and the First Lady encouraged them to listen carefully to the women being recognized today, and use their example as a guide for their own paths forward.

In them, you can see that no matter who you are ...or where you come from, if you’re willing to dig deep enough, and fight hard enough, and believe strongly enough in yourself, then you can truly change the world.  

...And the potential that I see in not just all of you, but all of our young women all across this world, that reminds me that the rest of us must work to lift up the women and girls in our own communities -- because we know that when women and girls rise, their communities and their countries rise with them. 

Related Topics: Women
JUMP TO: