Women From 8 Countries Honored

by Leasa Conze, KOLD News 13 at 5 Producer

As part of International Women's Day on Monday, 8 women from around the world were honored in Washington, DC for their contributions to women's rights and advancement.

The 8 women were chosen from 95 nominees for their courage and leadership and for their achievements to foster freedom, justice, peace, and equality.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice established the "International Women of Courage Awards" last year.

This year's recipients come from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Kosovo, Palestinian Authority, Somalia, Paraguay, and Fiji.

The honorees include:

Suraya Pakzad from Afghanistan.  She founded "Voice of Women," one of the few organizations dedicated to helping women in the western region of Afghanistan. The non-governmental organization operated under Taliban rule, and continues to provide shelter and counseling to women and girls who have escaped forced marriages.

Virisila Buadromo, Executive Director of the Fiji Women's Rights Movement.  It 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 of Iraq, 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.  She also works to build capacity to meet their needs in Iraq.

Valdete Idrizi from Kosovo is an ethnic Albanian internally displaced person, who crosses frequently into majority Serb areas in northern Kosovo to run women's and youth projects aimed at reconciliation and peace-building among the various ethnic communities.

From the Palestinian Authority, Nibal Thawabtehwas the first woman to be elected to the Beit Fajjar Village Council, a very 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 from Pakistan is Chairperson of the Tribal Women Welfare Association.  She works to empower the voice and role of women in traditional communities of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in northwest Pakistan.

Paraguay's 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 is a young Somali woman living in the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya, who has worked tirelessly on behalf of women, girls, and refugees and campaigned tirelessly against practices like female genital mutilation (FGM) and violence against women.