Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken hosted the annual International Women of Courage (IWOC) Awards in a virtual ceremony at the US Department of State, earlier today, Monday, March 14 at 10:00 a.m. EST.
The IWOC Award event in 2022 commemorated a group of twelve remarkable women from around the world who are trying to make the world a better place for everyone. Dr. Jill Biden, the First Lady of the United States, made remarks in honor of this year’s IWOC honorees’ daring achievements.
The Secretary of State’s IWOC Award, now in its 16th year, honors women from all over the world who have shown extraordinary courage, strength, and leadership in advocating for peace, justice, human rights, gender equity and equality, and the empowerment of women and girls in all forms, often at great personal risk and sacrifice.
The IWOC Award has been given to over 170 women from more than 80 countries since March 2007. Senior Department officials pick and approve finalists after U.S. diplomatic embassies around the world nominate one courageous woman from their respective host nations.
The recipients will participate in an International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) Virtual exchange following the virtual IWOC event to meet with their American counterparts and enhance the worldwide network of women leaders.
The African awardees for 2022 are:
Facia Boyenoh Harris – Liberia
In Liberia, Facia Boyenoh Harris has been a lifelong advocate for women’s rights and the prevention of gender-based violence. She has worked for decades as a co-founder of the Paramount Young Women Initiative to address widespread sexual assault and harassment of school-aged girls, create educational opportunities, and give leadership training for the next generation of female leaders.
She is also a community organizer, having co-founded the Liberian Feminist Forum and facilitated coordination among female advocacy groups, as well as fostering local activism, where she organizes groups on a variety of problems including political involvement, sanitation, and rape.
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Ms. Harris’ brave action, which has been faced with threats and harassment in some cases, began in the aftermath of two devastating civil wars, and in an environment where rape, female genital mutilation/cutting, and sexual harassment continue to endanger girls and women of all ages.
Ms. Harris is currently the Director of Outreach and Sensitization for Liberia’s Independent Information Commission, which enforces the Freedom of Information Act.
Najla Mangoush – Libya
Najla Mangoush became Libya’s first female Foreign Minister and the fifth in North Africa when she was appointed on March 15, 2021.
Dr. Mangoush led the National Transitional Council’s Public Engagement Unit, which interacted with civil society organizations, during Libya’s 2011 revolution.
Dr. Mangoush is a conflict-resolution expert who has worked as the US Institute of Peace’s Libya country representative and as a program officer for peace-building law at the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy, and Conflict Resolution in Arlington, Virginia.
Dr. Mangoush graduated from Benghazi University (formerly Garyounis University) with a law degree and afterwards served as an assistant professor of law there.
Dr. Mangoush received a Fulbright Scholarship to study in the United States, where she graduated from Eastern Mennonite University’s Center for Justice and Peace Building and then earned a Ph.D. in conflict analysis and resolution from George Mason University.
Roegchanda Pascoe – South Africa
Roegchanda Pascoe has bravely pushed for peace, justice, and economic inclusion in the traditionally underserved and violent Cape Flats of Cape Town in South Africa, a country suffering with high rates of organized crime, gender-based violence, and murder.
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Despite repeated assassination attempts and ongoing threats from violent criminals, Ms. Pascoe continues to work to make communities safer, particularly for women and children who have been scarred by violence, as well as to teach the next generation of community advocates.
She has fearlessly invited gang leaders and community members for conflict mediation, calling on the President of South Africa, local government, and police to boost crime prevention, intervention, and fight corruption.
Other awardees from outside Africa include:
- Rizwana Hasan – Bangladesh
- Simone Sibilio do Nascimento – Brazil
- Ei Thinzar Maung – Burma
- Josefina Klinger Zúñiga – Colombia
- Taif Sami Mohammed – Iraq
- Phạm Đoan Trang – Vietnam
- Carmen Gheorghe – Romania
- Bhumika Shrestha – Nepal
- Doina Gherman – Moldova
For news and updates on this year’s awards, the U.S. Department of State has encouraged everyone to use the hashtags #IWOC2022 and #WomenOfCourage on social media.
Source: U.S Department of State
Arakunrin Lekan is a Managing Editor & writer at the TheAfricanDream LLC. He’s also a freelance poet, graphics designer, and a business man.