Meridian honored to host the 2019 International Women of Courage Awardees

Now in its 13th year, the annual U.S. Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage (IWOC) Award honors extraordinary women worldwide 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. On Thursday March 7, during a ceremony organized by the Secretary’s Office of International Women’s Issues (S/GWI) and hosted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and First Lady Melania Trump, the 2019 IWOC Awardees were recognized for their remarkable accomplishments.

Meridian International Center is proud to have partnered with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) to design and implement a two-week professional International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) itinerary for the Awardees. At the start of the Washington program, Meridian helped orient the Awardees to American culture and the U.S. government system and facilitated opportunities for them to speak publicly about their work during a panel discussion at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs and on Capitol Hill with the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues.

The Awardees left Washington to follow individualized itineraries arranged in coordination with Global Ties U.S. member organizations in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis, Pensacola, Portland, San Diego and Seattle. Here they met a diversity of Americans and enjoyed professional meetings and site visits designed around their areas of expertise: A police chief from Jordan met female officers at the Atlanta Police Department; a child advocate from Sri Lanka dialogued with attorneys and judges in Pensacola; and a human rights activist from Bangladesh visited a center for immigrant services in Minneapolis. During this segment, the Awardees appreciated the opportunity to meet counterparts, engage in community service activities and participate in home hospitality with local volunteers

To close the project, the group reunited reunited for two special events and a project evaluation in Los Angeles. The Perseverance Through Adversity Luncheon was hosted by the International Visitors Council of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Mayor's Office, while an evening dinner and reception was hosted by the American Women for International Understanding. At both, Awardees mixed with community members, told their stories, and received further recognition for their achievements.

This year's 10 Awardees included:

  • Razia Sultana of Bangladesh, Human Rights Activist, Free Rohingya Coalition and Arakan Rohingya National Organization
  • Naw K’nyaw Paw of Burma, Peace Activist, Karen Women's Organization
  • Moumina Houssein Darar of Djibouti, Anti-Terrorism Investigator, Djiboutian National Police Force
  • Mama Maggie of Egypt, Founder, Stephen’s Children
  • Colonel Khalida Khalaf Hanna al-Twal of Jordan, Public Security Directorate’s Women’s Police Department
  • Sister Orla Treacy of Ireland, Catholic Sister, Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Loreto Sisters), Loreto Rumbek Mission in South Sudan
  • Olivera Lakić of Montenegro, Investigative Reporter
  • Flor de Maria Vega Zapata of Peru, National Coordinator for Environmental Prosecutors;
  • Marini de Livera of Sri Lanka, Lawyer, Founder and Chairperson of Sisters at Law
  • Anna Aloys Henga of Tanzania, Executive Director, Legal and Human Rights Centre

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Sponsors and Partners

U.S. Department of State
International Visitor Leadership Program, U.S. Department of State
Georgia Council for International Visitors
Global Ties Detroit
Global Minnesota
Gulf Coast Citizen Diplomacy Council
San Diego Diplomacy Council
World Affairs Council of Seattle

Project summary

Meridian honored to host the 2019 International Women of Courage Awardees | March 2019
Number of Visitors: 10
Regions: Africa, East Asia and Pacific, Europe and Eurasia, Near East and North Africa, South and Central Asia, Western Hemisphere
Countries: Bangladesh, Burma, Djibouti, Egypt, Ireland, Jordan, Montenegro, Peru, Sri Lanka, Tanzania
Impact Areas: Empowering Women and Girls, Human and Civil Rights
Program Areas: Global Leadership
Partners: NGOs, Private Sector, Public Sector