Kerry to honor Egyptian, Syrian, Afghani as world’s ‘extraordinary’ women

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and First Lady Michelle Obama will honor Friday an Egyptian, Syrian, and Afghani among the world’s 10 “extraordinary” women this year as part of the Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award.

The list of inspirational females includes Malalai Bahaduri from Afghanistan, Samira Ibrahim, a Coordinator for the Know Your Rights group in Egypt and Razan Zeitunah, a human rights lawyer in Syria who will be awarded in absentia.


The award “annually recognizes women around the globe who have shown exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for women’s rights and empowerment, often at great personal risk,” according to a released statement.

Since the inception of the award in 2007 the U.S. Department of State has honored 67 women from 45 different countries.

Samira Ibrahim’s case is a harrowing one, subjected to a ‘virginity test,’ torture and abuse by the Egyptian army in 2011, she resisted cultural pressure and took the armed forces to court.

A military tribunal in March 2012 exonerated the army doctor implicated in the act. But Ibrahim’s case sparked worldwide outcry, prompting the military to issue an order in December 2012 forbidding any such procedures.

Ibrahim is now the coordinator of the Know Your Rights movement, which works to raise political awareness and advocate for women’s rights in Upper Egypt.

Malalai Bahaduri‘s story is one of perseverance.

In 2002, after the ouster of the Taliban government in Afghanistan, First Sergeant Bahaduri, with the support of her husband, left her job as a telecommunications operator to pursue a career in law enforcement.

She endured death threats and a broken nose at the hands of her uncle for her career choice but has carried on undeterred.

Zeitunah worked with the Human Rights Association of Syria to monitor and expose domestic human rights violations. SHRIL , her information website, became the international community’s principal source of information on human rights violations perpetrated by the Syrian armed forces.

The 2013 awardees also include women from China, Russia, Honduras, Somalia, Vietnam and India.

Honorees will began their visit to the U.S. on Monday and will arrive in Washinton on March 6 to meet with Department of State and White House officials, Members of Congress, and NGO leaders.

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