U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry recognized 14 women from around the globe with International Women of Courage awards Tuesday for their leadership in advocating for justice, human rights, democracy, gender equality and women’s empowerment.
One of those honored, human rights activist Ni Yulan of China, was barred from traveling to Washington by her government.
“This year we recognize a group of women who are demonstrating courage in three pivotal areas," Kerry said. "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.”
WATCH: Secretary John Kerry's remarks at awards ceremony
This year's honorees include a Yazidi activist from Syria who is dedicated to combating gender-based violence; human rights lawyers and advocates for disadvantaged and marginalized citizens; activists and executives of non-governmental organizations who fight against radicalization and discrimination and advocate for transgender rights; and a Russian journalist who champions democracy and freedom of information.
One is an immigration officer from Belize who helped crack down on a drug and human-smuggling ring; another is Mauritania’s first woman lawyer.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues Cathy Russell pose for a photo with the 2016 Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award winners at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on March 29, 2016.
Ni Yulan, who was unable to travel to the United States, told VOA's Mandarin service that Chinese authorities refused to issue her a passport late last month.
“Ni Yulan has paid a steep price for her efforts to assert the legal rights of Chinese citizens," Kerry said. "Her outspokenness has led her to imprisonment, during which she was beaten so badly that she became paralyzed from the waist down, but that hasn't stopped her.
"She continues to defend the property rights of Beijing residents whose homes have been slated for demolition,” the secretary of state said.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of International Women of Courage Award. The U.S. has honored 101 women for their achievements since the award's inception.
WATCH: Award winners honored at ceremony