White House Hosts International Awards For Women

United States first lady Jill Biden wanted to put this year’s International Women of Courage laureates on the biggest stage, so she invited the 11 laureates to the White House on Wednesday (8/3) for an awards ceremony held on International Women’s Day.

“Girls everywhere need to know there are women who fight for them and win it,” Biden said Wednesday, speaking to a packed room with guests and honorees.

“Opening doors, changing schools, communities and governments, building a better world for all of us. And here we are also saying to their brothers, fathers, husbands and friends: As much as we need women to speak up, we need more men to listen and act,” Biden said.

For the first time this year, the awards also honored a group, honoring women and girls protesters in Iran as the first recipients of the Madeleine Albright Group of Honor Award.

Countless women and girls led demonstrations across the country’s 31 provinces after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in police custody last September, allegedly because she did not wear her headscarf properly.

“The people of Iran – led by women – have taken to the streets in peaceful protest,” said Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the United Nations, while announcing the award on Wednesday.

“They follow in the footsteps of the brave women before them, who sacrificed so much in the name of freedom. Through neighborhoods and classrooms, from apartment buildings and car windows, protesters shouted across Iran and around the world, creating a global chorus demanding gender equality and human rights. To all women and girls across Iran, know: We will continue to support you in your fight for women, for life and for freedom.”

Eleven other laureates — among them journalists, activists, educators, lawyers and a brigadier general — have been sacked, threatened, arrested and tortured while seeking justice and equality. [my/rs]

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