U.S. first lady Jill Biden will shine a spotlight on women who have made significant impact at great cost by bringing the International Women of Courage Awards to the White House for the first time, her office told VOA on Friday.
"We wanted to bring the stories of these incredible women to the biggest stage we could," Biden said to VOA. "Girls everywhere need to know that there are women fighting for them, transforming their communities, and building a better world for all of us."
The ceremony will be held March 8 at the White House.
The State Department-administered award recognizes "women from around the world who have demonstrated exceptional courage, strength, and leadership in advocating for peace, justice, human rights, gender equity and equality, and the empowerment of women and girls, in all their diversity, and more, often at great personal risk and sacrifice."
More than 180 women, from 80 countries, have received the award since its inception in 2007. Honorees have come from nations where women's rights are often challenged by cultural norms or hampered by laws, such as Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria and more. After the ceremony, the awardees receive grants from the advocacy group American Women for International Understanding.
Last year's honorees came from Bangladesh, Brazil, Burma, Colombia, Iraq, Liberia, Libya, Moldova, Nepal, Romania, South Africa and Vietnam.
"From soft lullabies to battle cries for justice, women nurse and nurture, teach and build, lead and dream our world forward — each and every day," Biden said at last year's award ceremony. "Women have never been silent, but women have been silenced: with violence, with hate, discrimination, and isolation, with work and care that is never done. Women have been told that they are dangerous. And that's because they are — dangerous to corruption and injustice. When we raise our voices, we have the power to shatter the shields of oppression."