International Women’s Day IWOC Awards 2023
International Women’s Day List of IWOC Award 2023
The White House will be hosting the annual International Women’s Day of Courage (IWOC) Awards ceremony, which will be led by Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and First Lady Jill Biden. The event will honor 11 exceptional women from around the world who are making significant contributions to building a brighter future for all. The ceremony is by invitation only, with pooled press coverage and live streaming available on whitehouse.gov/live and state.gov.
The IWOC Award, which has been running for 17 years, recognizes women who have shown exceptional courage, strength, and leadership in advocating for peace, justice, human rights, gender equity. The U.S. diplomatic missions overseas have nominated one woman of courage from their respective host countries since March 2007, and senior Department officials have selected and approved the finalists. After the ceremony, the awardees will participate in an in-person International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) exchange, which will allow them to connect with American counterparts in cities across the United States and strengthen their global networks of women leaders.
The 2023 IWOC Award winners include
Dr. Zakira Hekmat from Afghanistan
Now resides in Turkey. Born as an internally displaced person in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan, Dr. Hekmat completed high school secretly under the Taliban’s first period of control. She eventually qualified as a medical doctor in 2018 after winning a scholarship to study in Turkey. Throughout her medical studies, Dr. Hekmat volunteered with refugee assistance organizations and recognized a need to advocate for marginalized refugee groups’ rights and access to services. She founded the Afghan Refugee Solidarity Association in Turkey in 2014, where she has since worked tirelessly to advocate for the rights of all refugees and women. As one of the few female leaders of a refugee-led community organization in Turkey. Dr. Zakira Hekmat was honored with an invitation on International Women’s Day 2023 and share her remarkable story and inspiring work with the world
She is currently serving as Argentina’s Special Envoy for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Trade, and Worship. Ms. Rueda played a key role in developing the executive order on transgender labor quotas in the public sector, which later became the Transgender Labor Quota Act, as the first Undersecretary for Diversity Policies in the newly created Ministry of Women, Gender, and Diversity in Argentina. She has also worked with the National Institute against Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Racism and the Argentine Secretariat for Human Rights. Ms. Rueda co-founded Argentina Trans Women (MTA) and works with Notitrans, the first transgender magazine in Argentina. The organizers of International Women’s Day 2023 recognized Alba Rueda significant contributions to the advancement of human rights and invited her to speak at the event.
Professor Danièle Darlan
She upholds the constitution of the Central African Republic, safeguards judicial independence, and resists political pressure, even in the face of threats. These remarkable efforts have earned her the International Woman of Courage award. Although removed from her position as president of the Constitutional Court after finding that the proposed methods to rewrite the constitution were not legally valid, she continues. She stood firm in her convictions.Despite numerous challenges, including coups d’état and years of civil conflict, Professor Darlan has remained dedicated to promoting equity and transparency in the country’s legal system.Jeune Afrique’s list of “The Thirty Building Tomorrow’s Africa” recognizes her significant contributions to women’s rights and institution-building, earning her a well-deserved place on the list. Her unwavering determination and dedication have earned her the affectionate nickname “Woman of Iron”.
She is a respected indigenous leader and member of the China Kichá community in Costa Rica. She is actively involved in various initiatives aimed at improving the lives of indigenous people. As the Vice-president of the National Indigenous Board of Costa Rica, she helps implement programs focused on agriculture, animal care, reforestation, and cultural training for indigenous communities. Additionally, Ms. Ríos works as a consultant for legislators, executive and judicial branch institutions, international organizations, and civil society to assess the impact of development projects or legislation on indigenous territories. She advocates for the “buenvivir” philosophy of living in harmony with one’s environment, which is deeply ingrained in many indigenous cultures.
Meaza Mohammed on International Women’s Day Event (IWOC) Awards ceremony
She is an experienced Ethiopian journalist and the founder of Roha TV, a YouTube-based independent news and information channel. in Ethiopia, independent channels such as Roha TV have become popular as a means of sharing news and analysis that diverges from the official government narrative, Meaza’s reporting has focused on gender-based violence and survivors of sexual violence, including those affected by the current conflict in Ethiopia. She has worked directly with survivors to help them find medical treatment and other resources.
On her platform, Meaza has shared interviews with many women who have been raped or sexually assaulted by armed militants during the northern conflict. She has been a vocal advocate for human rights and accountability for these violations, impressing foreign observers with her dedication to the truth and her perseverance. Additionally, Meaza produced a documentary about the abduction of 17 students from a university and co-founded an NGO to work towards their release. Meaza’s outstanding achievements in promoting justice and equality for all have earned her a special invitation to speak at the International Women’s Day 2023 event.
However, Meaza’s activism has not been without personal risk. She has been arrested multiple times and charged with spreading false rumors and disclosing the army’s battlefield location to the enemy. Despite these challenges, Meaza remains committed to advocating for victims of gender-based violence and ensuring accountability for the crimes committed against them.
Ms. Hadeel Abdel Aziz on International Women’s Day
She is a human rights activist who has made significant contributions to promoting access to justice for marginalized individuals in Jordan. As the founder of the Justice Center for Legal Aid, she has built a strong network of legal clinics that provide essential services to thousands of vulnerable people every year. Her work has focused on advocating against arbitrary detention, including detention of women for their protection from so-called honor crimes. Ms. Abdel Aziz has also been a consistent advocate for access to justice for all Jordanians, and has worked constructively with government institutions to promote fairer justice systems. The selection committee for the International Women’s Day 2023 event was impressed by remarkable efforts towards improving human rights and deemed her worthy of an invitation
Bakhytzhan Toregozhina on (IWOC) Awards ceremony
She is a civil society activist who has been advocating for the protection of fundamental human rights in Kazakhstan for almost 25 years. Currently leads a coalition of civil society organizations called “Qantar 2022,” which aims to assist victims and document human rights violations that occurred during the widespread unrest in Kazakhstan in January 2022. She has successfully campaigned for the release of several political prisoners, but her work has also resulted in repeated threats and harassment. Her unwavering commitment to this challenging work demonstrates the crucial role that human rights defenders play in holding governments accountable and promoting respect for basic rights and freedoms. Bakhytzhan Toregozhina work in advocating for women’s rights and social justice has earned her a well-deserved invitation to speak at the International Women’s Day 2023 celebration.
Senator Datuk Ras Adiba Radzi
She has dedicated her career to promoting and protecting human rights, particularly for marginalized populations in Malaysia. Despite facing her own personal challenges, including becoming paralyzed from the waist down following a car accident and a subsequent assault, she has tirelessly advocated for the rights of persons with disabilities. As a journalist, she used her platform to raise awareness and founded the NGO OKU Sentral to empower the disability community. Her advocacy has helped to bring the conversation about disability rights to the national level and she has become a prominent figure in Malaysia, even earning a seat in the Senate as the representative for persons with disabilities. In 2020, she also became the first female chair of Malaysia’s national news agency, Bernama, breaking barriers for women and persons with disabilities in leadership roles.
Brigadier General Bolor Ganbold of Mongolia
She has spent close to three decades serving her country, achieving a series of notable accomplishments along the way that have paved the way for other women to follow. The Military University of Mongolia admitted her as the first woman cadet. Became the first female staff officer from Mongolia to be assigned to a United Nations Peacekeeping Operation. Her latest milestone was becoming the first woman general in the Mongolian Armed Forces on March 18, 2022. The organizers of the International Women’s Day 2023 event invited Bolor Ganbold to participate as a symbol of hope and inspiration for all those working towards a more just and equitable world. Bolor Ganbold is the Chief of the Education and Training Directorate of the General Staff of the Mongolian Armed Forces. She is committed to advancing gender equality in all aspects of the military’s organizational structure, activities, and operations .
Bianka Zalewska on International Women’s Day
She is a Polish journalist and humanitarian who has fearlessly reported on Russian aggression in Ukraine since 2014, and has been advocating for the people of Ukraine for over a decade. Despite facing the risks of violence and injury, disinformation campaigns, and online threats directed towards her and her family, she persists in her work. Russian proxy forces attacked her press car in Luhansk Oblast in 2014, and she sustained life-threatening injuries, but this has not deterred her from continuing her efforts. She remains undaunted in the face of danger and continues to welcome refugees, report truthfully from the frontlines, shed light on Russian atrocities, and personally deliver aid within Ukraine. The International Women’s Day 2023 organizers recognized her extraordinary contributions to the advancement of human rights and invited her to address the audience.
Mrs. Yuliia Paievska from Ukraine
She has demonstrated incredible bravery, both in terms of her moral convictions and physical courage, in standing up against the continuous Russian aggression towards her country. Where she played a vital role in providing medical treatment to protestors during Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity in 2013, and as the leader of Taira’s Angels, a team of volunteer paramedics, she provided tactical medical training on the front lines in Donbas between 2014 and 2018. She is particularly well-known for her clandestine filming and smuggling of videos that documented the heinous acts committed by Russia’s military in Mariupol.
Mrs. Paievska endured immense suffering during her three–month detention by Russia‘s forces, including torture, beatings, and extreme weight loss due to the cramped conditions of her cell. Furthermore, the Kremlin’s propagandists spread false allegations against her, portraying her as a fascist and war criminal on an international level. Nevertheless, Mrs. Paievska refused to back down, and since her release, she has been a powerful advocate for Ukrainian democracy and independence both in her home country and abroad.
The Women and Girl Protestors of Iran
Honored with the Madeleine Albright Honorary Group Award for their exceptional bravery and resilience in the face of Iran’s state-sponsored violence against women. The death of Mahsa (Zhina) Amini while in the custody of Iran’s “Morality Police” in September 2020 triggered a groundswell of protests led by women across all 31 provinces of the country. Although violence against women has been a longstanding issue in Iran, Amini’s brutal killing ignited a collective outcry in Iranian society, inspiring women and girls to take to the streets in protest. Many burned their headscarves and cut their hair as an act of defiance against the oppressive regime.
Men and boys, as well as schoolgirls who stood up to school administrators who tried to stop them, joined the protests alongside women and girls. Despite the violent crackdown by the authorities that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of peaceful protesters, including around 70 children, the women and girls of Iran persisted in their fight for justice and equality. Their courageous and unwavering spirit in the face of such brutality serves as an inspiration to us all.