News / USA

Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, Honor Women's Rights Defenders

Multimedia

Audio

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and first lady Michelle Obama led State Department ceremonies on Wednesday, honoring 10 women's rights activists from around the world as International Women of Courage.  The event was among Washington observances of International Women's Day and came on the eve of the release of the State Department's annual report on human rights conditions around the world.

Secretary Clinton said honoring the women rights activists in such a public way sends a clear message that although they might work in lonely circumstances, they are not alone and that the United States stands with them.

"We will be watching your progress, listening for news of your successes, struggles and, above all, your safety," she said. "We send a message to all governments that might not be thrilled that you're here, that we will be watching them as well.  And we thank you for everything you are doing and will do."

Clinton's remarks were an implied warning against political reprisals against the awardees, among them women activists from Iran, Syria and Zimbabwe.

The group also included two women from Afghanistan and one each from Cyprus, the Dominican Republic, Sri Lanka, Kenya and South Korea.

Among those in the audience were girls from Washington area schools and first lady Michelle Obama exhorted them to follow the awardees' example and refuse to stand idly by when they encounter injustice or hardship.

"If these women can endure relentless threats, brutal violence and separation from their families as they fight for their causes, then surely you all can keep going when you face struggles and obstacles in your own lives," she said.

Speaking on behalf of the recipients was Zimbabwe human rights monitor Justine Mukoko, who was among activists abducted and held by state security agents for reporting on rights abuses after the country's flawed elections in 2008.

Mukoko, head of the non-governmental Zimbabwe Peace Project, said the prestigious U.S. award lends encouragement to all women's rights advocates.

"The award beckons us to stand tall and refuse to be intimidate and harassed, as these are tactics to remove us from the focus of our objective," she said.  "We do not want to be passive bystanders.  And it is such recognition that ensures that we will not tire until we reach the finish line, and pass the baton to the next generation - the girls who are among us."

Of the 10 awardees, only those from Cyprus and Iran were not present at the event.

The Iranian winner, Shadi Sadr, led a campaign in the country's courts against the Islamic punishment of death by stoning against women for adultery and other offenses.  After multiple arrests, she left Iran and now lives in Germany.

In addition to Sadr and Mukoko, the other awardees are Shukria Asil and Shafiqa Quraishi of Afghanistan, Androula Henriques of Cyprus, Sonia Pierre of the Dominican Republic, Ann Njogu of Kenya, Lee Ae-ran of South Korea, Jansila Majeed of Sri Lanka and Marie Claude Naddaf of Syria. 

You May Like

FIFA Indictments Put Gold Cup Tournament Under Cloud

Experts say US indictments could lead to charges of other world soccer officials, and lead to major shakeup in sport's governance More

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

At a recent even in Seoul, border communities promoted benefits of increased cooperation and North Korean defectors shared stories of life since the war More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows Fight to Death With IS

In wide-ranging interview, Fuad Masum describes new type of fight that will take time to win More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs