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Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
March 10, 2008

Secretary of State Confers the International Women of Courage Awards

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky today marked International Women’s Day 2008 by presenting the second annual International Women of Courage Award to eight women around the globe who have shown exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for women’s rights and advancement. This is the only Department of State award paying tribute to emerging women leaders worldwide and offering a unique opportunity for transformational diplomacy in the field of international women’s issues.

The honorees from Afghanistan, Fiji, Iraq, Kosovo, Pakistan, Palestinian Authority, Paraguay, and Somalia have transformed their societies and serve as an inspiration to the international community. They are among over 95 exceptional women of courage nominated by U.S. Embassies worldwide for their diverse contributions to freedom, justice, peace, and equality.

This year, the Department honored the following women of courage from six regions:

Suraya Pakzad (Afghanistan)

Suraya Pakzad founded “Voice of Women,” one of the few organizations dedicated to helping women in the western region of Afghanistan. The non-governmental organization operated under Taliban rule, and continues to provide shelter and counseling to women and girls who have escaped forced marriages.

Virisila Buadromo (Fiji)

Virisila Buadromo, Executive Director of the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement (FWRM), advocates for gender equality, legal and political reform, and democracy, despite challenges and threats from Fiji’s military coup-led government.

Dr. Eaman Al-Gobory (Iraq)

Dr. Eaman Al-Gobory searches hospitals, clinics and rehabilitation centers for sick and wounded children in need of specialized care that could only be received outside of the country and also works to build capacity to meet their needs in Iraq.

Valdete Idrizi (Kosovo)

Valdete Idrizi, an ethnic Albanian internally displaced person (IDP), crosses frequently into majority Serb areas in northern Kosovo to run women’s and youth projects aimed at reconciliation and peace-building among the various ethnic communities.

Nibal Thawabteh (Palestinian Authority)

Nibal Thawabteh was the first woman to be elected to the Beit Fajjar Village Council, a very conservative village near Bethlehem. She founded a monthly newspaper, Al Hal (“The Situation”) that covers controversial issues including honor killings, polygamy, and the plight of the poor. She also is a published author and is working on a novel dealing with previously unexplored issues concerning women in the Arab world.

Dr. Begum Jan (Pakistan)

Dr. Begum Jan, Chairperson of the Tribal Women Welfare Association (TWWA), works to empower the voice and role of women in traditional communities of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in northwest Pakistan.

Cynthia Bendlin (Paraguay)

Cynthia Bendlin has exhibited outstanding courage and leadership in combating the trafficking of women in the Tri-Border area of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. Ms. Bendlin continues her efforts despite forced relocation and repeated death threats by criminal mafia who control the human trafficking trade.

Farhiyo Farah Ibrahim (Somalia)

Farhiyo Farah Ibrahim, a young Somali woman living in the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya, has worked tirelessly on behalf of women, girls, and refugees and campaigned tirelessly against practices like female genital mutilation (FGM) and violence against women.


Released on March 10, 2008

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