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.
“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.