Publication Date: March 29, 2016
Publication Location: WASHINGTON
Contact: Kathryn Schoenberger   |   [email protected]

World Learning is proud to host the 2016 International Women of Courage as part of an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.

The International Women of Courage Award annually recognizes women around the globe who have demonstrated exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for peace, justice, human rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment, often at great personal risk. The group of 14 extraordinary women received their awards from Secretary of State John Kerry in a ceremony at the State Department on March 29.

“This year we recognize a group of women who are demonstrating courage in three pivotal areas, Secretary Kerry said of the honorees. “They are exposing and opposing gender-based violence, they are combating corruption and strengthening rule of law and they are promoting justice and human rights for all.”

US Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Cathy Russell also attended and spoke at the ceremony, praising the award winners as “brave leaders who start movements and report injustice.”

They speak out against corruption and they stand for peace,” she said. “They use the law to move society forward and they are often the lone voices in their communities speaking out for peace, for progress and for the dignity of women.”

Since the inception of this award in 2007, the Department of State has honored nearly 100 women from 60 different countries. To mark the tenth anniversary of the award the State Department hosted a forum after the ceremony.

The 2016 awardees are:

  • Sara Hossain, Barrister, Supreme Court, Bangladesh
  • Debra Baptist-Estrada, Port Commander, Belize Immigration and Nationality, Belize
  • Ni Yulan, Human Rights Activist, China
  • Latifa Ibn Ziaten, Interfaith Activist, France
  • Thelma Aldana, Attorney General, Guatemala
  • Nagham Nawzat, Yezidi Activist and Gynecologist, Iraq
  • Nisha Ayub, Transgender Rights Advocate, Malaysia
  • Fatimata M’baye, Co-founder and President of the Mauritanian Association for Human Rights, Mauritania
  • Zhanna Nemtsova, Journalist and Activist, Russia
  • Zuzana Števulová, Director of the Human Rights League, Slovakia
  • Awadeya Mahmoud, Founder and Chair of the Women’s Food and Tea Sellers’ Cooperative and the Women’s Multi-Purpose Cooperative for Khartoum State, Sudan
  • Vicky Ntetema, Executive Director of Under the Same Sun, Tanzania
  • Rodjaraeg Wattanapanit, Bookstore Owner and Co-founder of Creating Awareness for Enhanced Democracy, Thailand
  • Nihal Naj Ali Al-Awlaqi, Minister of Legal Affairs, Yemen

On April 1 the honorees will travel to seven U.S. states including Alabama, California, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina and Pennsylvania on individual programs through an International Visitor Leadership Program, which World Learning is organizing. They will reconvene in Los Angeles at the end of the program to discuss their time in the United States and how to collaborate to improve life for women and girls worldwide.

Full biographies and photos are available on the U.S. Department of State website.