作文迷 > 英语作文 > 英语演讲稿 > 美国国务院"2014年国际妇女勇气奖"颁奖典礼发言稿(全文)


  AMBASSADOR RUSSELL: Good morning,everyone. Mrs. Obama, Deputy Secretary Higginbottom, all of your excellencieswith us today, distinguished guests, it’s my pleasure to welcome all of you tothe Department of State for the eighth annual presentation of the Secretary ofState’s International Woman of Courage Awards. We’re delighted to have you heretoday to celebrate the 103th anniversary of International Women’s Day, which wemark every year by recognizing women who have exemplified exceptional courageand leadership in advocating for human rights, women’s equality, and socialprogress, often at great personal risk.

  Secretary Kerry, unfortunately,is unable to join us today, because the President asked him to travel to theUkraine, but he asked two very important people to represent him here, and weare so grateful to have them. The first is Deputy Secretary of State HeatherHigginbottom, who, along with the First Lady, will recognize our amazing womenof courage. And the second is Dr. Vanessa Kerry, who is the cofounder and CEOof Seed Global Health, which is an NGO working in collaboration with the PeaceCorps to improve healthcare in resource-limited countries. Dr. Kerry, we’re sohappy to have you here to offer your thoughts on what investing in women andgirls means to you and to your father. Thank you so much. (Applause.)

  DR. KERRY: Thank you so much forletting me join you today. I’m a poor substitute for my father, and I – hedeeply regrets that he can’t be here. But I personally am very, very delightedto be able to play a small part in honoring these inspiring women with you all.I’m also incredibly honored that my father asked me to be included, because Iknow this an event that he really deeply appreciates. After his firstInternational Women of Courage Award event last year, he was really lookingforward to being back here to celebrate another group of extraordinary womenwith extraordinary women, like our own First Lady. And unfortunately – well,for many reasons, unfortunately – my father is in Kiev, trying to hopefullyhelp avert what is a growing disaster.

  My father, though, would be thefirst to tell you that he’s had the great honor of being surrounded byremarkably strong women throughout his life, really actually from the moment hewas born. His first memory, he would tell you, is actually of holding handswith his mother, my grandmother, when he was just four years old, basicallywalking through what were the ruins of her family home in a small village inFrance. The home had been completely destroyed by the ravages of the war, andmy grandmother actually had escaped on a bicycle the day before the Nazisinvaded. She made her way through France, Spain, to Portugal, where she boardeda ship and came to the United States.

  My grandmother, though, was justone of many strong women who have influenced my father’s life. He’d seensimilar resolve in his sister, Peggy, who’s dedicated her career to working onwomen’s issues with the UN. And he’s experienced the fearless dedication toeducation of his sister Diana, who has taught in many parts of the world,including here at home, and in not always the calmest places. And he’s seen itin the countless women he’s met over the course of his career, women like AungSan Suu Kyi, who he visited a little over 15 years ago when she was stillimprisoned in her own home, or Hassina Syed, a remarkable woman that he metlast year in Afghanistan. Hassina actually started a trucking company over 10years ago with just about $500. She now has over 500 trucks, 650 employees, andover 300 of them are women, women who would not have had the opportunities theydo today, even just a short time ago.

  All of these women have had aprofound impact on my father’s life, and that’s why advancing the rights ofwomen and girls has been a priority for him throughout his career, and it’s whyit remains a priority for him today, whether he’s here with us in this room oris in Kiev.

  It’s reflected deeply in how he’sraised my sister and me to believe that we could do anything. I knew from thetime that I was in third grade that I wanted to be a doctor. I was thatcompletely nerdy kid, and there’s photos of me wearing fake glasses and walkingaround with a microscope. But it wasn’t until I was 14 and my father took me toVietnam that I knew I actually wanted to work in global health. On that trip, Isaw poverty in a whole different light. Much of the population lived in veryrural settings with no transportation, no access to hospitals, no stores, noshoes. Electricity and running water were scarce. Most of the homes, the healthclinics, were just these concrete blocks with nothing more than thin wisps ofcloth that served as doors.

  That experience just changed mylife. It’s why after my residency at the Mass General Hospital, I ended upfounding Seed Global Health. It’s a nonprofit that partners with the PeaceCorps to send health professionals abroad for a minimum of a year to providenot only critical health services but to teach in underserved regions likeMalawi, Tanzania, and Uganda.

  Access to healthcare is importantfor everyone around the globe, but it is especially important for women. Everyday about 800 women and 8,000 newborns die due to complications of pregnancyand childbirth. And the vast majority of these maternal and neonatalmortalities occur in resource-limited settings around the world, including herein our own country. The risk to women’s health has additional affects on ahousehold and a community.

  Evidence actually shows that ifyou can invest just five dollars per person per year in 74 countries around theworld – and these are the 74 countries where 95 percent of the maternal andchild mortality occur, just five dollars – you can see nine times the economicand social benefit by the year 2035. Evidence also tells us that children wholose their mother are more likely to die before the age of two than those whodon’t. And if they do survive, they’re more likely to be socially andeconomically disadvantaged for the rest of their lives.

  I’m incredibly proud to say thatSeeds volunteers, their doctors and nurses, are working hard every day toprovide more women with reliable healthcare that they need, but also to teachothers to do so as well.

  I want to close by telling you aboutone of those volunteers. She’s a remarkable woman named Maureen, who about ninemonths ago went to northern Tanzania to teach obstetrics and gynecology. On herfirst day on the job, just hours after she arrived, amid unpacked boxes,unpacked suitcases, she was – she didn’t even – at this point, she didn’t evenknow the names of the people she was working with. She got summoned urgently toan operating room. She walked in the room, she saw a mother lying – basically amother on the table lying there, effectively dying. And being called to theoperation late, she lost the mother and she lost both babies; they were twins.She was completely devastated by this experience. We were devastated, and wejust read about it.

  But she didn’t give up, becausethe next day she was back in that operating theater, this time saving the lifeof a mother with five children who had come in with a ruptured uterus becauseshe’d been in labor for two days without healthcare. But this time, Maureenactually changed the course of a life that day. She also laid the cornerstoneto save many more, by teaching her Tanzanian coworkers the lifesaving procedurethat she had just preformed.

  If we want to create a more justand livable world, we need more women like Maureen and her colleagues. We needmore women of courage. And that is why I am so honored to be here today withmore women like that, with incredible courage, who I’m happy and thrilled to beable to celebrate with all of you here on this stage. Your example is showingall of us what courage means. And your efforts are opening doors for countlesswomen of courage to come. And I know I speak for my father as well and forcountless women around the world when I say thank you. (Applause.)

  AMBASSADOR RUSSELL: Thank youvery much, Vanessa. I know how much it means to your father that you are hereand I know how sorry he is to miss this because everyone loves this event somuch. It’s one of the favorites in our office and across the State Department,so thank you so much for doing that.

  So like the people of America andpeople all over this world, I have had the great, great privilege of getting toknow our First Lady over the last five years. She truly embodies the best ofAmerica – determination, courage, persistence, humor, of course, and greatcompassion. And she deploys not only her great talents but her huge, huge hearton behalf of all of us, especially our military families and our children. Shetouches the lives of so many, whether in auditoriums like this with thousands ofpeople or in one-on-one settings such as the mentoring program she establishedat the White House.

  She is the daughter of a greatwoman and the mother of two extraordinary young women who will undoubtedlyfollow her example of making the world a kinder, more just place. Please joinme in welcoming a woman who inspires people, especially the women and girls Imeet all around the world who always ask me about her, First Lady of the UnitedStates Michelle Obama. (Applause.)

  MRS. OBAMA: Thank you. Thank youso much. Thank you all. Well, good morning. I want to start by thanking my dearfriend, Ambassador Russell, for that very kind introduction and for herphenomenal work as our Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues. And while I knowhow disappointed Secretary Kerry is to miss this event – by the way, in hisbusy schedule, he tried to call me five times to apologize. (Laughter.) Andfinally, I had to tell him, “I know why you can’t make it.” (Laughter.) “Stopcalling. Just do your job.” He – I know how heartbroken he is, but we all knowthat he is doing vitally important work right now in Ukraine and we are all sograteful for his outstanding service as our Secretary of State.

  And in his absence, we arethrilled to have Deputy Secretary Heather Higginbottom and Dr. Vanessa Kerry,and I also want to recognize their efforts and I am thrilled that they are heretoday. And finally, I want to thank all of you for joining us today for theInternational Women of Courage Awards.

  This is the sixth time that I’vehad the pleasure of attending this event, and it is one of the highlights of myyear because I always walk away feeling inspired by these women, determined toreflect their courage in my own life. And I know I’m not alone in that feelingbecause every day, with every life they touch and every spirit they raise,these women are creating ripples that stretch across the globe. They teach usthat if a woman can fight torture and oppression and get her name on the ballotin Tajikistan, if she can break a glass ceiling and advocate for equality andtolerance as a bishop in Georgia, if she can go door to door, police station topolice station, court to court to combat domestic and child abuse in SaudiArabia – if these women can do all of that, then surely we can summon a fractionof their bravery in our own lives and communities, whether that means endingwage discrimination in the workplace or fighting sexual violence on collegecampuses or confronting any of the small injustices that we see every day.

  That is what this day is about.It’s about understanding that while our circumstances may be different in somany ways, the solutions to our struggles are the same. So when we see thesewomen raise their voices and move their feet and empower others to createchange, we need to realize that each of us has that same power and that sameobligation. And as I learned about this year’s honorees and I thought about howwe could support their work, I realized that for most of these women, there isa common foundation for their efforts. It’s a foundation of education.

  On stage today, we have doctorsand lawyers, we have a bishop, even a classically trained musician. These womenhave spent years in schools and universities equipping themselves with theknowledge and skills they now use to tackle the challenges before them. Andthat’s a story I can relate to because it’s the story of my life. And that isthe message I’m sharing with young people across America, urging them to committo their education so that they too can write their own destiny. That’s thecore idea behind our White House leadership and mentoring program.

  And we are so proud to have someour mentees here with us today. I’m going to embarrass you all. Yes, you muststand – (laughter) – so that we can see you, our young women who are heretoday. (Applause.) You know I’m always proud of you and it’s important, as youknow, for you to be at this event to see what’s happening around the world, sowelcome.

  And as I travel the world,whether I’m in Mexico City or Johannesburg, Mumbai, or later this month when Itravel to China, I make it a priority to talk to young people about the powerof education to help them achieve their aspirations. I always tell them thatgetting a good education isn’t just about knowing what’s going on in your owncommunity or even in your own country, because no matter where we live, we allface so many of the same struggles – fighting poverty, hunger and disease;ensuring our most basic rights and freedoms; confronting threats like terrorismand climate change. And in order to solve these problems, we will need to workwith others around the world. So our next generation will need exposure tosocieties and languages and traditions that are very different from their own.

  That message of cultural exchangeis the focus of all of my international travel, because that connection – theidea that a girl in Dakar shares the same hopes and dreams as a girl from Fijior Ukraine or the South Side of Chicago – that reminds us that we’re neveralone in our struggles. And that’s what must compel us to reach beyond our ownborders, whether that means getting on an airplane or picking up an iPad ormaybe simply writing a letter. There is too much work left to be done, too manyyoung people who can’t go to school, too many families struggling to put foodon the table, too many women and minorities who are excluded and oppressed.

  So none of us can afford to justgo about our business as usual. We cannot just sit back and think this issomeone else’s problem. As one of our honorees, Zimbabwe’s Beatrice Mtetwa, asshe once said about the fight for progress in her home country, she said, “Thishas to be done. Somebody’s got to do it, and why shouldn’t it be you?” That isthe courage we celebrate today; that willingness to not only ask that questionbut to devote your soul, your entire soul, toward finding an answer; thatfearlessness to step forward even though you don’t know what lies ahead; thataudacity to believe that principles like justice and equality can become a reality,but only if we’re willing to sacrifice for it. That is the courage that we allmust challenge ourselves to summon every single day in our own families, in ourown communities. And if we can do that, then we won’t just be making adifference for those closest to us, we’ll be creating a ripple effect of ourown.

  So I want to thank these honoreesonce again for their tremendous bravery, for their efforts, for their courage,for their work to make change in their own lives and communities and throughoutthe world. I cannot wait to see the impact you will continue to make in theyears ahead. God bless you all. (Applause.)

  And now it is my pleasure to turnthe podium back over to Ambassador Russell to continue the program.

  AMBASSADOR RUSSELL: Thank you, Mrs.Obama. As always, it’s such a pleasure to have you here and I really appreciateyou coming over here. It’s really a treat for all of us.

  It’s now my great pleasure tointroduce a former colleague and now a new colleague here at the StateDepartment, who’s a tremendous advocate for promoting the rights andopportunities of women and girls in all parts of the world, Deputy Secretary ofState Heather Higginbottom. (Applause.)

  DEPUTY SECRETARY HIGGINBOTTOM:Thank you, Cathy. We are very lucky to have such a terrific ambassador-at-largefor global women’s issues. It’s a pleasure to honor these remarkable andcourageous women with our First Lady Michelle Obama, an amazing woman ofcourage in her own right. Mrs. Obama, thank you for being here today and for beingsuch a powerful advocate and role model for women and girls all around theworld.

  I also want to thank Dr. VanessaKerry for joining us today to help represent her father, and also for hertremendous leadership on global health issues. And of course, I want to welcomethe 2014 International Women of Courage. What an honor it is to be in thecompany of so many heroes.

  I know, as others have said, thatSecretary Kerry is very disappointed that he couldn’t be here. He’s beentalking about this event for weeks. Last year, this ceremony was one of thevery first public events that he took part in as Secretary, and he wasenormously moved by it. And while we all wish that he could be here, I’mhonored to play a role in this event today.

  The stories of last year’shonorees humbled and inspired me months and months after their visit toWashington. And I know that the same will be true today. Year after year,against great odds and often under dangerous circumstances, these honorees arechanging the world. The 10 extraordinary women we’re honoring today representwomen everywhere who have dedicated their lives to pursuing justice andopportunity, and I look forward to sharing their inspiring stories with you injust a few moments.

  As you’ll hear, each of the winnersis being honored today for her unique and courageous efforts to advance therights of women and girls, but together they represent countless women pursuingthose same goals all over the world, women of all ages and all backgrounds, whotake on this work daily with no expectation of recognition or reward.

  Secretary Kerry often talks aboutthe opportunities he has had to meet some of these women on his travels asSecretary of State. During his first week in office, he met with a group ofBurmese women leaders, two of whom were political prisoners who are now givingback to the country that once held them back. In Pakistan, he broke the Ramadanfast with a group of remarkable women who had just completed their educationwith the help of global partnership programs and were beginning to carve outcareers for themselves, blazing a path for other young women to follow. And inthe Philippines, he met local women who were helping to organize the aid comingin for victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

  Confronting the obstacles youface head on, doing whatever you can to make a difference – that’s thedefinition of courage. And every one of those courageous women, and certainlythe women on this stage today, illustrate perfectly why the United States is astrong advocate for the rights of women and girls, and why gender equality isfront and center in President Obama’s foreign policy. It’s not just becauseit’s the right thing to do; it’s because when women and girls are safe, able toexercise their universal rights, and empowered to participate fully indecision-making processes, societies benefit. That’s why every Americandiplomat and development professional knows it’s their job to integrate genderequality and the advancement of women and girls into every aspect of theirwork.

  It’s also why Secretary Kerrylaunched the Full Partnership Fund last year to help American diplomats bettersupport gender equality and women’s empowerment by providing additionalresources to implement innovative ideas. Among the fund’s inaugural grants areprojects like women’s entrepreneurial community centers in Pakistan that willgive new and emerging women entrepreneurs access to the mentorship and expertassistance they need to grow their businesses and support their families. Thegrants are supporting State Department collaboration with women leaders in SriLanka and Zambia to ensure that more women speak out, vote, and stand forelection at all levels of government. And they’re also helping radio stationsthroughout Bolivia boost their reporting on women’s issues in that country.

  Our goal is simple and it’s onethat President Obama, Secretary Kerry, and the entire State Department aredeeply committed to: We want to see full participation of women in theeconomic, social, and political lives of their countries. You only have to lookaround the room today to see how strong women make the world a better place.International Women’s Day reminds us that we all have a responsibility toprotect the health, education, welfare, human rights of women and girls sotheir inherent strength can be realized. Because in too many places around theworld there are people who try to hamstring that strength, to limit theopportunities women and girls have to meet their goals.

  The women on this stage are workinghard to change that, and their stories prove that legal hurdles, threats, andeven violence are no match for a woman of courage. It is now my honor tointroduce to you these extraordinary women.

  Our first honoree is RuslanaLyzhychko of Ukraine. Ruslana is a pop music singer who became famous after shewon the 2003 EuroVision song contest. But today, she is known instead for hercommitment to the EuroMaidan community. As the peaceful protests emergedfollowing President Yanukovych’s decision to reject an association agreementwith the European Union, Ruslana joined the demonstrations, spending her dayson streets and her nights sleeping in cold tents. And every evening, in theface of impending police attacks and death threats, she performed the Ukrainiannational anthem for the other demonstrators to reinforce the promise of adiverse and unified Ukraine.

  One night last December, asRuslana sang, rumors of an impending security sweep by the Ukrainian riotpolice began to spread, sending panic through the crowd. Ruslana held the stageand urged protestors to retain their calmness and composure. And when thegovernment forces arrived to the scene, she reminded them over and over againto respect human rights and refrain from violence.

  Anyone who was there that nightwill tell you how her rallying cries steadied the nerves of the protestors,giving them the courage they needed to successfully withstand more than 2,000riot police. They will tell you how crowds cheered as eventually the policeretreated from a standoff that was intense but ultimately peaceful. And theywill tell you how that night will go down in history as one of the EuroMaidanmovement’s most amazing displays of unity and determination.

  For her steadfast commitment tononviolent resistance and national unity in the fight against governmentcorruption and human rights abuses, we name Ruslana Lyzhychko a Woman ofCourage. (Applause.)

  Roshika Deo was born and raisedto make a difference. When she was a little girl, her father used to take herto the squatter settlements to raise awareness of inequality and the importanceof giving back. As an adult, she has been a vocal advocate for Fiji’s return todemocracy and especially for the participation of women and young people in thedemocratization process. She was one of the very first candidates in thecountry to announce her intention to stand in Fiji’s 2014 elections, the firstsince a military coup in 2006.

  Despite intense criticism,constant threats of rape and violence, and financial difficulties, Roshika andher Be the Change political campaign are inspiring a new generation of Fijianwomen and youth to believe in democracy and the power of civic participation.Roshika has also been one of Fiji’s most outspoken critics of violence and discriminationagainst women and girls, and has publicly stood up for greater governmentaccountability. And in her bold efforts to expand political participation amongall Fijians, Roshika has refused to be silenced or intimidated. For heradvocacy, for political reform in the name of democracy and human rights, and acountry free of violence against women, we name Roshika Deo a Woman of Courage.(Applause.)

  Next we have Fatimata Toure fromMali. During the terrorist occupation of northern Mali, Fatimata channeled her22 years of experience advocating for women’s health rights to fight tirelesslyagainst the rampant gender-based violence her community experienced. Whenextremists attacked a hospital in Gao, she didn’t skip a beat before assistingvictims in relocating and getting the safety and medical attention theydesperately needed. As the conflict continued, Fatimata provided counseling andshelter for victims of rape and forced marriage and publicly denouncedperpetrators of gender-based violence. Extremists threatened her daily,ransacked her office, and robbed her at gunpoint. But even as her own home wasunder assault, Fatimata hid beneath her bed, took out her mobile phone, andcontinued documenting acts of violence against women.

  As the current head of theRegional Forum on Reconciliation and Peace in Gao and director of an NGO, shecontinues advocating for justice and women’s rights still today. She hasdedicated her life to ensuring that not only do victims receive the care theyneed, but also that the abuse they suffer is not forgotten or ignored. Forunwavering courage and tireless work to defend women’s rights against forcedmarriage and gender-based violence in Gao during the occupation of northernMali, we name Fatimata Toure a Woman of Courage. (Applause.)

  On a different continent and in adifferent conflict, Dr. Nasrin Oryakhil watched as the Taliban took control ofAfghanistan. Against all warnings, she continued to work as an OB/GYN becauseof her deep belief in the need for women’s access to maternal health services.She provided emergency obstetric care to women and even founded the firstcenter for obstetric fistula repair in Afghanistan. Sometimes in the evening,Taliban members would barge into her clinic and beat her, demanding her to stopworking and start praying. But she continued working, praying only that Godwould bring change to her country. One night, after the Taliban assaulted her,Dr. Nasrin went on to perform 17 surgeries.

  Her indisputable strength hasincreased the recognition for women in medical professions in Afghanistan, andtoday, Dr. Nasrin continues to set a strong example for Afghan women aspresident of the Afghan Family Health Association, which is implementinginnovative reproductive health programs, providing hotlines for youth sheltersfor women, and conducting outreach sessions in high schools to raisereproductive health awareness among students. For her tireless efforts topromote women’s health and provide maternal health services in Afghanistan, wename Dr. Nasrin Oryakhil a Woman of Courage. (Applause.)

  Our next awardee, Dr. MahaAbdulla Al Muneef, has worked tirelessly to spread awareness about domesticviolence and victims of child abuse. She is the executive director of theNational Family Safety Program, or NFSP, which she founded in 2005 to combatdomestic violence and child abuse in Saudi Arabia. Hers is the firstorganization in Saudi Arabia to address these issues. And under Dr. Al Muneef’sleadership, the NFSP has developed advocacy programs, reported on domesticviolence and child abuse statistics in Saudi Arabia, and provided services forvictims of abuse.

  Their hard work was rewarded inAugust 2014 when, after a multiyear effort, the Council of Ministers adoptedlandmark legislation to address these issues. Dr. Al Muneef and the NFSP playedan instrumental role in drafting and advising on the Protection from Abuse law,which defines and criminalized domestic violence for the first time in SaudiArabia.

  Unfortunately, Dr. Al Muneef wasunable to be here today, but for promoting awareness of domestic violence andchild abuse in Saudi Arabia, and championing support for victims of abuse, wename her a Woman of Courage. (Applause.)

  Last year on this stage, wehonored the memory of a tremendous young Indian woman known simply as Nirbhaya.This tragedy sparked outrage and inspired people all over the world to cometogether to say no more – no more looking the other way when gender-basedviolence happens, no more stigma against victim or survivors.

  That is also the message of Laxmifrom India. When Laxmi was 16, her friend’s brother pursued her romantically.When she refused his advances, he threw acid in her face, inflicting horriblepain and scarring her for life. Acid attacks are committed almost exclusivelyon women, particularly on young women. Many of the victims feel they have nochoice but to withdraw from society or even commit suicide, and they’re morecommon than you might realize, in part because it’s such an easy weapon to getyour hands on. Until recently, anyone could walk into a store and buy a literof acid as cheaply and as easily as a bottle of window cleaner.

  But after her attack, Laxmibecame a tireless campaigner against acid attacks. Thanks to her hard work andtremendous diligence, Laxmi was successful in petitioning the supreme court toorder the Indian Government to regulate the sale of acid and to makeprosecutions of acid attacks easier to pursue. And she continues to push forprogress still today. For fearless advocacy on behalf of victims of acidattacks and for bringing hope to survivors of gender-based violence anddisfigurement, we name Laxmi a Woman of Courage. (Applause.)

  Our next honoree is BishopRusudan Gotsiridze of Georgia. Bishop Gotsiridze is a minority of a minority: awoman working in a predominantly male religious field and a religious minorityoperating in a society dominated by one faith. But that doesn’t stop her frombravely advocating for gender equality and for the equal protection of allGeorgia’s minorities. She takes every opportunity she can to contribute togender equality, anti-gender-based violence, and other women’s initiatives.

  With the help of her church, shehas spearheaded a number of efforts to promote tolerance and equality inGeorgia. This includes the establishment of interfaith dialogues aimed atprotecting the freedom of religious expression in Georgia, especially for theMuslim community. She was also one of the first members of the religiouscommunity to condemn a violent counter-protest to the International Day AgainstHomophobia and Transphobia rally in Tbilisi. For bravely advocating on behalfof tolerance, opportunity, and equality for all her fellow citizens, we nameBishop Rusudan Gotsiridze a Woman of Courage. (Applause.)

  Since the Tajik Civil War endedin 1997, Oinikhol Bobonazarova has worked tirelessly to draw attention towomen’s rights, torture and detention centers, and the plight of Tajik migrantlaborers. In September 2014, Ms. Bobonazarova became the first-ever female candidatefor president of Tajikistan when the only Islamic political party in centralAsia nominated her as its standard bearer. Despite an unsuccessful bid, hernomination shattered one of the highest of glass ceilings and set an importantprecedent for women in politics.

  In the time since, she hascontinued to speak out against torture and has been instrumental in working toestablish the first independent prison-monitoring program since prisons wereclosed to outside access in 2004. For fearlessly advocating the rights of womenand labor migrants and fighting to end torture in Tajik detention centers, wename Oinikhol Bobonazarova a Woman of Courage. (Applause.)

  As the president of one ofGuatemala’s high-risk court tribunals, Judge Iris Yassmin Barrios Aguilar hasmade a career of taking on the most difficult and politically sensitive cases.These are cases that deal with high-profile corruption, with organized crimeand drug trafficking, and with human rights abuses occurring during Guatemala’s36-year internal armed conflict. More often than not, she has had to wear abulletproof vest when she left the courthouse at night.

  In 2014, Judge Barrios pushed allfear aside and agreed to serve as the presiding judge in the genocide trial offormer Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt. The trial was historic. It wasthe first time that a former head of state had ever been tried for genocide inhis home country by the national judiciary. By taking on that case andinitiating the judicial process against Efrain Rios Montt, Judge Barrios gave avoice to thousands of Ixil-Mayan victims. She also provided an important legalprecedent for genocide cases worldwide. For demonstrating that justice isattainable for all of Guatemala’s citizens and through her perseverance, courage,and personal conviction, consistently fighting to end impunity in Guatemala, wename Judge Iris Yassmin Barrios Aguilar a Woman of Courage. (Applause.)

  And finally, today we honorBeatrice Mtetwa, Zimbabwe’s most prominent human rights lawyer. For more than20 years, Beatrice has fought injustice, defended press freedom, and upheld therule of law. Beatrice has been harassed, assaulted, and arrested, but sheremains a steadfast advocate for human rights, women’s equality andadvancement, and social justice.

  And like Judge Barrios, sheaccepted difficult cases that other lawyers have declined for fear of politicalreprisal. In fact, she has defended two previous International Women of Courageawardees. She has also represented politicians, civil society activists, andlocal and international journalists, including British and Americancorrespondents arrested while covering Zimbabwe’s 2008 election. For fearlesslydefending victims of human rights abuses and championing the rule of law inZimbabwe, we name Beatrice Mtetwa a Woman of Courage. (Applause.)

  Please join me in one more roundof applause and gratitude for the amazing work of these 10 extraordinary women.(Applause and cheers.) We could do this all day, couldn’t we? (Laughter.) It’slike the most wonderful, humbling, inspiring event to be a part of.

  It is now my pleasure tointroduce Dr. Nasrin who will accept the awards on behalf of this group. Thankyou. (Applause.)

  DR. ORYAKHIL: In the name of God,First Lady Mrs. Obama, Madam Deputy Secretary Heather Higginbottom, AmbassadorCathy Russell, Dr. Vanessa Kerry, honorable and distinguished guests, ladiesand gentlemen, on behalf of the International Women of Courage, I would like toexpress my sincere thanks and appreciation for providing me this opportunity tostand here today in front of you and speak a few words.

  I’m truly humbled to representthese courageous sister of mine whose incredible and heartfelt stories are notonly a source of inspiration for me but also a flaming torch of kindness andmaking a difference in the life of every conscientious individual.

  Dear honored guests, as a doctorin the field of medicine, specifically women health issues, I have been verymuch involved in the life of a bringing of child – a boy or a girl – a humanbeing who become the center of future generation and eventually the ideal ofprogress and civilization for the mankind.

  Dear guests, it is vital to comethis realization that women are half of the population, world populations, andmarginalizing a girl or a woman in any form of – or shape means disintegratethe sacred institution of family or our society. Empowering a woman meansempowering a society and generation.

  I personally experienced this –that when the Afghan woman, under very harsh conditions, were deprived of theirbasic and God-given rights for a long period of time. However, with greatdesire and unparalleled bravery and the support of help and the internationalcommunity, they were able to change the tide against them and gain numerousachievement in the past 12 years in different aspects of life.

  While there are obstacles andchallenges such as lack of security, rule of law, domestic violence, andcorruption still very much remain, but the hope and aspiration of the Afghanwomen are greater than these challenges. I believe by convening, gathering likethis, and receiving support from all members of international community, thehope of the women around the world one day would be materialized when they findthemselves in an environment that it truly recognizes and appreciates the realessence of being a woman and a mother.

  At the end, I would like toexpress my gratitude to the Government of the United States, Department ofState’s U.S. embassies around the world, Meridian International Center, andother volunteers for facilitating and organizing this important and memorableevent.

  Thank you for your time. And nowI would like to introduce my colleague from India, Ms. Laxmi to recite herpoem. Thank you. (Applause.)

  MS. LAXMI: Thank you so much.This is my first poem.

  You hold the acid that charred mydreams. Your heart bore no love. It had the venom stored. There was never anylove in your eyes. They burn me with caustic glance. I am sad that yourcorrosive name will always be the part of my identity that I carry with thisface. Time will not come to my rescue. Every Thursday will remind me of you.

  You will hear and you will betold that the face you burned is the face I love now. You will hear about me inthe darkness of confinement. The time will be burdened for you. Then you willknow that I am alive, free and thriving and living my dreams.

  Thank you so much. (Applause.)

  AMBASSADOR RUSSELL: Well, noweveryone sees why we love these awards so much and why this event is reallyjust the favorite of everyone at the Department.

  I have to say that Dr. Nasrinyour remarks were beautiful, and I had the chance to visit you at yourhospital. And I have to – when you see her here, it’s kind of hard to imaginethe hospital that she works in. She does amazing work. But when you go there,in many cases they have more than one patient in a bed, because they’re socramped for space. And the work she does is so miraculous, and so I just reallywant to thank you so much for what you do.

  And Laxmi, that poem wasbeautiful and I just – your spirit, obviously, has not been crushed by whathappened to you, and I just thank you so much for what you did.

  Anyway, on behalf of Mrs. Obama,Deputy Higginbottom, and International Women of Courage, I want to thank youall so much for joining us. If you would all please remain seated just for amoment, we’re going to take a quick group photo, and then we’re going to allowour guests here to exit the stage. So I’m sorry to do that to you, but if youcould just sit for just a second, I would appreciate it, and then we’ll do aquick photo.

  AMBASSADOR RUSSELL: Okay. So you’re all very welcome to join us in the Ben Franklin Room. We have areception in honor of the awardees, so if you’d like to join us for thereception, I think exit in the front of the – yes, in the front of theauditorium. So thank you all. We wish you a very happy International Women’sDay.

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