Washington — A diminutive doctor defies the Taliban to bring health care to Afghan women. A pop music star brings attention to corruption and human rights issues in Ukraine. A victim of an acid attack overcomes the pain of her disfigured face to become the standard-bearer in India for the movement to end acid attacks.
These are the many faces and forms of courage that were honored at the U.S. Department of State on March 4.
At the secretary of state’s annual International Women of Courage Awards, 10 extraordinary women from 10 countries were recognized for their leadership in advocating for peace, justice, human rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment — often at great personal risk.
In her remarks at the awards ceremony, first lady Michelle Obama said the honorees, “with every life they touch and every spirit they raise … are creating ripples that stretch across the globe.”
“When we see these women raise their voices and move their feet and empower others to create change,” Obama said, “we need to realize that each of us has that same power and that same obligation.”
Deputy Secretary of State Heather Higginbottom officiated at the 2014 awards ceremony for Secretary of State John Kerry, who was called away to Ukraine. The goal of President Obama and Secretary Kerry, Higginbottom said, is “ full participation of women in the economic and political lives of their countries.”
Speakers at the awards ceremony included Catherine Russell, U.S. ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues, and Kerry’s daughter Vanessa Kerry, a doctor who has been active in global health for more than a decade.
These are the 2014 International Women of Courage awardees:
• Dr. Nasrin Oryakhil, director of the Malalai Maternity Hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan.
• Roshika Deo, a political activist in Fiji.
• Rusudan Gotsiridze, bishop of the Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia and advocate for gender equality and equal protection of all of Georgia’s minorities.
• Dr. Iris Yassmin Barrios Aguilar, tribunal president for the High Risk Court in Guatemala, who has fought high-profile corruption, organized crime and human rights abuses.
• Laxmi, a campaigner to end acid attacks against women in India.
• Fatimata Touré, a community activist who advocates for women’s health rights and fights gender-based violence in Mali.
• Dr. Maha Al Muneef, a pediatrician who works to end domestic violence and child abuse in Saudi Arabia.
• Oinikhol Bobonazarova, who works to draw attention to women’s rights, torture in detention centers and the plight of migrant laborers in Tajikistan.
• Ruslana Lyzhychko, a former pop music star and currently a civil society activist, human rights advocate and leader of Ukraine’s Maidan movement for democratic reform.
• Beatrice Mtetwa, a human rights lawyer in Zimbabwe.
Full biographies and photos of the awardees are available on the State Department website.
Following the awards ceremony at the State Department and meetings with U.S. officials and nongovernmental organization leaders in Washington, the honorees will travel to cities across the United States to engage with the American people through an International Visitor Leadership Program.
Since the inception of the award in 2007, the Department of State has honored 76 women of courage from 49 different countries.

Read more: http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/st/english/article/2014/03/20140304295380.html#ixzz2vNQ0lsNG