The 2008 International Women of Courage Awards

Women Around the World Today The 2008 International Women of Courage Awards Eight women who truly inspire By: Kelly Keenan Trumpbour In recognition of International Women’s Day 2008, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice awarded eight outstanding women from around the globe the International Women of Courage Award. I had the privilege of attending the event […]

Women Around the World Today

The 2008 International Women of Courage Awards

Eight women who truly inspire

By: Kelly Keenan Trumpbour

In recognition of International Women’s Day 2008, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice awarded eight outstanding women from around the globe the International Women of Courage Award. I had the privilege of attending the event and was deeply moved by the humility and strength of women who are literally risking everything to change the world.

Courage Awards

“These women risk their own safety and freedom while working to transform their own societies in order to create a more democratic, peaceful and prosperous world for all of us,” Secretary Rice remarked during the ceremony. The honorees have transformed their societies and serve as an inspiration to women everywhere. They were chosen from a pool of 95 exceptional women of courage nominated by U.S. Embassies worldwide for their diverse contributions to freedom, justice, peace and equality.

This year, the State Department honored the following women of courage from six regions:

Suraya Pakzad (Afghanistan)

Suraya Pakzad founded “Voice of Women,” one of the few organizations dedicated to helping women in the western region of Afghanistan. The nongovernmental organization operated under Taliban rule, and continues to provide shelter and counseling to women and girls who have escaped forced marriages.
Virisila Buadromo (Fiji)

Virisila Buadromo, executive director of the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement (FWRM), advocates for gender equality, legal and political reform, and democracy, despite challenges and threats from Fiji’s military coup-led government.

Dr. Eaman Al-Gobory (Iraq)

Dr. Eaman Al-Gobory searches hospitals, clinics and rehabilitation centers for sick and wounded children in need of specialized care that could only be received outside of the country; it also works to build capacity to meet their needs in Iraq.

Valdete Idrizi (Kosovo)

Valdete Idrizi, an ethnic Albanian internally displaced person (IDP), crosses frequently into majority Serb areas in northern Kosovo to run womens’ and youth projects aimed at reconciliation and peace-building among the various ethnic communities.

Nibal Thawabteh (Palestinian Authority)

Nibal Thawabteh was the first woman elected to the Beit Fajjar Village Council, a conservative village near Bethlehem. She founded a monthly newspaper, Al Hal (“The Situation”) that covers controversial issues including honor killings, polygamy and the plight of the poor. She also is a published author and is working on a novel dealing with previously unexplored issues concerning women in the Arab world.

Dr. Begum Jan (Pakistan)

Dr. Begum Jan, chairperson of the Tribal Women Welfare Association (TWWA), works to empower the voice and role of women in traditional communities of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in northwest Pakistan.

Cynthia Bendlin (Paraguay)

Cynthia Bendlin has exhibited outstanding courage and leadership in combating the trafficking of women in the tri-border area of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. Ms. Bendlin continues her efforts despite forced relocation and repeated death threats by criminal mafia who control the human trafficking trade.

Farhiyo Farah Ibrahim (Somalia)

Farhiyo Farah Ibrahim, a young Somali woman living in the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya, has worked tirelessly on behalf of women, girls and refugees. She’s campaigned tirelessly against practices like female genital mutilation (FGM) and violence against women.

This week, BettyConfidential.com will profile each of these women on our Advocacy page. Log on each day to read more about these inspirational figures.


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The 2008 International Women of Courage Awards

Women Around the World Today The 2008 International Women of Courage Awards Dr. Eaman Al-Gobory from Iraq and Valdete Idrizi from Kosovo By: Kelly Keenan Trumpbour In recognition of International Women’s Day 2008, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice awarded eight outstanding women from around the globe the International Women of Courage Award. I had the […]

Women Around the World Today

The 2008 International Women
of Courage Awards

Dr. Eaman Al-Gobory from Iraq and Valdete Idrizi from Kosovo

By: Kelly Keenan Trumpbour

In recognition of International Women’s Day 2008, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice awarded eight outstanding women from around the globe the International Women of Courage Award. I had the privilege of attending the event and was deeply moved by the humility and strength of women who are literally risking everything to change the world. “These women risk their own safety and freedom while working to transform their own societies in order to create a more democratic, peaceful and prosperous world for all of us,” Secretary Rice remarked during the ceremony. The eight honorees from Afghanistan, Fiji, Iraq, Kosovo, Pakistan, Palestinian Authority, Paraguay and Somalia have transformed their societies and serve as an inspiration to women everywhere. Join us this week as we profile each of these amazing women.

Today we highlight Dr. Eaman Al-Gobory from Iraq and Valdete Idrizi from Kosovo:

Dr. Eaman Al-Gobory of Iraq

Dr. Eaman Al-Gobory is the National Medical Officer for the International Organization of Migration (IOM), one of few international aid organizations active in Iraq. Dr. Al-Gobory has helped many Iraqi children to receive life-saving specialized care at hospitals in the United States and around the world, including: plastic surgery, prosthetic limbs and congenital cardiac surgery. She funds the treatment with the help of NGOs and charity organizations. Dr. Al-Gobory also works tirelessly to help rebuild the Iraqi health care system so that children can receive the care they need in their own country.With unyielding professionalism, optimism and courage, Dr. Al-Gobory’s dedication to the health of the children of Iraq keeps her going, despite the threat to her personal safety. Dr. Al-Gobory is an inspiration both to her professional medical colleagues, as well as the women of Iraq.

Valdete Idrizi of Kosovo

Valdete Idrizi

Valdete Idrizi is an ethnic Albanian internally displaced person (IDP) who lost her home in Serb-controlled north Mitrovica in 1999. She frequently crosses into Serb-controlled territory over the bridge that she has been warned is too dangerous to cross, in order to run women’s and youth projects. She also counsels Serb widows and other IDPs who have suffered the same. Idrizi risks beatings, kidnapping and death, and has had to move from house to house to ensure her safety. She runs a local NGO that sponsors more than 200 multiethnic and grassroots-level projects in the immediate region of Mitrovica dedicated to the needs of youth, women, minorities, IDPs, culture and media.

In the last six years, her NGO has been the only organization in Mitrovica to encourage reconciliation and rebuilding of relationships between both ethnic Albanians and Serbs. Ms. Idrizi’s NGO has become the “go-to” group of healing, and is respected by all sides in conflict-torn Kosovo.


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The 2008 International Women of Courage Awards

Women Around the World Today The 2008 International Womenof Courage Awards Cynthia Bendlin from Paraguay By: Kelly Keenan Trumpbour In recognition of International Women’s Day 2008, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice awarded eight outstanding women from around the globe the International Women of Courage Award. This week we are profiling each of these amazing women. […]

Women Around the World Today

The 2008 International Women
of Courage Awards

Cynthia Bendlin from Paraguay

By: Kelly Keenan Trumpbour

In recognition of International Women’s Day 2008, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice awarded eight outstanding women from around the globe the International Women of Courage Award. This week we are profiling each of these amazing women.

Today we highlight Cynthia Bendlin from Paraguay:

Cynthia Bendlin of Paraguay

Cynthia Bendlin

Cynthia Bendlin has exhibited outstanding courage and leadership in combating the trafficking of women and children and promoting their rights through her administration of the International Organization of Migration in the tri-border area of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. She continues to fight this “modern-day slavery” despite forced job relocation and death threats to herself by the criminal mafia who control the trade.


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The 2008 International Women of Courage Awards

Women Around the World Today The 2008 International Women of Courage Awards Farhiyo Farah Ibrahim from Somalia By: Kelly Keenan Trumpbour In recognition of International Women’s Day 2008, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice awarded eight outstanding women from around the globe the International Women of Courage Award. This week we are profiling each of these […]

Women Around the World Today

The 2008 International
Women of Courage Awards

Farhiyo Farah Ibrahim from Somalia

By: Kelly Keenan Trumpbour

In recognition of International Women’s Day 2008, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice awarded eight outstanding women from around the globe the International Women of Courage Award. This week we are profiling each of these amazing women.

Today we highlight Farhiyo Farah Ibrahim from Somalia:

Farhiyo Farah Ibrahim of Somalia

Farhiyo Farah Ibrahim

Farhiyo Farah Ibrahim is a Somali refugee who has dedicated her life to fighting for women’s rights and against female genital mutilation (FGM), and forced marriage in the Dadaab refugee camp in northeast Kenya. The isolation of this camp means exposure to the outside world is extremely limited. Life in the camps is especially harsh for women, who have traditionally played a subordinate role to men in conservative Somali society. Her most dangerous role has been as a campaigner for the elimination of FGM, which is widely practiced in Somalia and other parts of Africa. At great personal risk and living with ostracism from her family and clan, she has resolutely advocated for condom use, promoted voluntary HIV/AIDS counseling and testing, and advocated for the rights of women, girls and refugees.


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The 2008 International Women of Courage Awards

Women Around the World Today The 2008 International Women of Courage Awards Dr. Begum Jan from Pakistan and Nibal Thawabteh from the Palestinian Authority By: Kelly Keenan Trumpbour In recognition of International Women’s Day 2008, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice awarded eight outstanding women from around the globe the International Women of Courage Award. This […]

Women Around the World Today

The 2008 International
Women of Courage Awards

Dr. Begum Jan from Pakistan
and Nibal Thawabteh from the Palestinian Authority

By: Kelly Keenan Trumpbour

In recognition of International Women’s Day 2008, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice awarded eight outstanding women from around the globe the International Women of Courage Award. This week we are profiling each of these amazing women.

Today we highlight Dr. Begum Jan from Pakistan and Nibal Thawabteh from the Palestinian Authority:

Dr. Begum Jan of Pakistan

Dr. Begum JanDr. Begum Jan was born in South Waziristan, in the tribal areas of Pakistan. She received her medical degree from Jalalabad Medical College, where she was the first woman to become student body president. After returning home, she joined the Pakistan Red Crescent, where she worked with women and children at a mental hospital. She also worked as a health care provider to Afghan refugees. Dr. Jan started the Tribal Women Welfare Association (TWWA) by selling her personal jewelry. Since the first project in Khyber Agency, Dr. Jan and TWWA have helped women in every single agency of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas. Extremist elements oppose Dr. Jan’s work to educate and improve the lives of these women, calling her efforts un-Islamic and a threat to traditional cultural values, but Dr. Jan has always struggled against customs and traditions that are at odds with basic human rights. During a time of unrest last year, she led a protest in Peshawar against conservative clerics who urged suicide bombings and violence against more moderate civic movements. As a child, she attended a school for boys because no other education was available, and she studied with a tutor when her tribal elders forbade her to attend high school. She traveled to Jalalabad on foot to study when there were no opportunities in her hometown.

Nibal Thawabteh of the Palestinian Authority

Nibal Thawabteh Nibal Thawabteh is a woman of courage in the political and media fields. She was the first woman to be elected to the Beit Fajjar Village Council (a conservative village near Bethlehem) by mounting a comprehensive political campaign that has blazed the trail for other women wishing to serve in local politics. After participating in U.S.-sponsored NGO political campaign training courses in 2002, she developed her own customized training manual for women in her community, volunteering more than 200 hours to help others attain seats in the Village Council. Most recently, Ms. Thawabteh has used the media to continue to advance the cause of women in the Palestinian Territories by founding a monthly newspaper that covers various controversial political and social issues such as: honor killings, polygamy and the plight of the poor. She says her investigative reports have resulted in threats of physical violence against her, but she continues her work for women’s social and political rights.


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The 2008 International Women of Courage Awards

Women Around the World Today The 2008 International Women of Courage Awards Suraya Pakzad from Afghanistan and Virisila Buadromo from Fiji By: Kelly Keenan Trumpbour In recognition of International Women’s Day 2008, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice awarded eight outstanding women from around the globe the International Women of Courage Award. This week we are […]

Women Around the World Today

The 2008 International
Women of Courage Awards

Suraya Pakzad from Afghanistan and Virisila Buadromo from Fiji

By: Kelly Keenan Trumpbour

In recognition of International Women’s Day 2008, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice awarded eight outstanding women from around the globe the International Women of Courage Award. This week we are profiling each of these amazing women.

Today we highlight Suraya Pakzad from Afghanistan and Virisila Buadromo from Fiji:

Suraya Pakzad of Afghanistan

Suraya Pakzad is the founder of Voice of Women, one of a few organizations dedicated to helping women in Afghanistan. Voice of Women is based in Heart, but has offices in three provinces across the region. Founded in 1998, her organization continued to operate during the Taliban rule, mainly in Kabul, and continues to face tremendous challenges even today. The organization’s core service is providing shelter and counseling to women including those who have recently been released from jail, women who have run away from abusive relationships and girls escaping forced marriages. The organization also works to advocate increasing the role of women in society and offers gender-issue programs for women and children.

Virisila Buadromo of Fiji

Virisila BuadromoVirisila Buadromo is a strong advocate for equality, human rights, the rule of law and democracy. In 2001 she became executive director of the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement (FWRM) lobbying for gender equality through legislative reform and policy change. Challenging social norms has been particularly difficult as Fiji has suffered from unstable governments, culminating in a military coup in December 2006. Following the 2006 coup, Ms. Buadromo was targeted by the regime for her work on behalf of citizens’ rights. Undaunted by her experience, Ms. Buadromo and her team have expanded FWRM’s scope in the community by further developing the Emerging Leaders Forum, a year-long feminist leadership program for young women. FWRM has continued working to reform Fiji Islands’ archaic, discriminatory Family Laws, through three coup d’etats and three different governments. Despite Fiji’s chaotic political climate, Ms. Buadromo and her team continue to help women and children access justice and defend their rights.


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