Women leaders forge a brighter future

Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivers remarks at the 16th Annual International Women of Courage ceremony at the Department of State in Washington, March 14. Photo by Freddie Everett
Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivers remarks at the 16th Annual International Women of Courage ceremony at the Department of State in Washington, March 14. Photo by Freddie Everett

By Katie Zitzer

Secretary of State Antony Blinken hosted the 16th Annual International Women of Courage (IWOC) Awards in a virtual ceremony at the Department of State, March 14. First Lady of the United States, Dr. Jill Biden, joined Blinken at the ceremony to celebrate the achievements of the 2022 IWOC awardees and highlight the importance of women’s leadership. The ceremony also featured remarks from Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. representative to the United Nations; Katrina Fotovat, the senior official for the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues; Rina Amiri, the special envoy for Afghan women, girls, and human rights; and Lee Satterfield, assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

The United States stands firm in its longstanding commitment to promote the empowerment of women and girls, in all their diversity. The advancement of gender equity and equality is essential to achieving inclusive economic prosperity, securing peace and stability, preventing and resolving conflict, and promoting justice, accountability, and human rights. Since 2007, U.S. secretaries of state have recognized more than 170 women from more than 80 countries with the IWOC award. Awardees are a diverse coalition of women from around the world, working in a multitude of sectors and industries, forging a brighter future for all—often at great personal risk and sacrifice. These courageous women are committed to their beliefs and have made the choice to stand firm–often in the face of  violent opposition—and continue to move forward.

This year’s class of 12 IWOC awardees is no exception. From Josefina Klinger Zúñiga of Colombia (her tireless work as an Afro-Colombian human rights and environmental activist) and Carmen Gheorghe of Romania (her work to advance the rights and status of Roma women and girls) to Facia Boyenoh Harris of Liberia (her life-long commitment to eliminate gender-based violence and support survivors), this year’s IWOC awardees are an unparalleled group of women leading of the frontlines of some of the world’s most pressing issues. The  incredibly courageous 2022 awardees made the choice to dedicate their careers and lives to supporting the rights of all.

The IWOC Awards remains one of the most public efforts undertaken by the U.S. government to demonstrate its time-honored championship of gender equity and equality, and the rights and empowerment of women and girls. For more information on the IWOC Award, visit the Department’s website. Biographies for this year’s IWOC awardees, as well as the full award ceremony, including remarks from Blinken and Biden, can be found here.

Katie Zitzer is a policy advisor with the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues.

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