Meridian honored to host 2021 International Women of Courage Awardees

Now in its 15th year, the Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award (IWOC) annually recognizes women around the globe who have demonstrated exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for peace, justice, human rights, gender equality, and women’s empowerment, often at great personal risk and sacrifice.  On Monday, March 8th, during a ceremony organized by the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues (S/GWI) and hosted by the Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, the 2021 IWOC Awardees were recognized for their remarkable accomplishments virtually.

Meridian International Center is proud to partner with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) to design and implement an 8-week virtual International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) itinerary for the Awardees. As part of the Washington program, Meridian will help orient the Awardees to their upcoming virtual exchange program and the cities that will be hosting them. The women spoke publicly about their work during a panel discussion at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs - 15th Anniversary: A conversation with the International Women of Courage.

The Awardees will then participate in tailored virtual exchange programs arranged in coordination with Global Ties U.S. member organizations in Atlanta, GA; Boston, MA; Jackson, MS; Kansas City, MO; Little Rock, AR; Minneapolis, MA; New York, NY; Salt Lake City, UT; San Diego, CA; and St. Louis, MO. They will meet a diversity of Americans and enjoy virtual professional meetings designed around their areas of expertise.

To close the project, the group will reunite for a special virtual event, hosted by the American Women for International Understanding.

This year's 13 Awardees included: 

  • Phyoe Phyoe Aung of Burma 
  • Maximilienne C. Ngo Mbe of Cameroon 
  • Wang Yu of China 
  • Mayerlis Angaria of Colombia
  • Julienne Lusenge of Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Judge Erika Aifan of Guatemala
  • Shohreh Bayat of Iran
  • Muskan Khatun of Nepal 
  • Zahra Mohamed Ahmad of Somalia
  • Sister Alica Vaca Moro of Spain 
  • Ranitha Gnanarajah of Sri Lanka
  • Canan Gullu of Turkey
  • Ana Rosario Contreras of Venezuela

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Sponsors and Partners

U.S. Department of State
International Visitor Leadership Program, U.S. Department of State
Global Ties Kansas City
Georgia Council for International Visitors
World Affairs Council of St. Louis
San Diego Diplomacy Council
Global Minnesota
Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy
Global Ties Arkansas
The International Visitors Center of Jackson

Project summary