Deputy Secretary Higginbottom to Honor 10 International Women of Courage


Notice to the Press

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
March 3, 2015

Deputy Secretary Higginbottom will present 10 extraordinary women from 10 countries with the 2015 Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award on March 5 at 1:00 p.m. EST. First Lady Michelle Obama will join Deputy Secretary Higginbottom and the awardees as a special guest at the afternoon ceremony at the U.S. Department of State.

The Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award annually recognizes women around the globe who have demonstrated exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for peace, justice, human rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment, often at great personal risk. This year’s recipients reflect women’s roles as agents of change and leaders in many of the crises and challenges facing the world today, from countering violent extremism to promoting security and recovery from the Ebola Virus Disease. Since the inception of this award in 2007, the Department of State has honored 86 women from more than 50 different countries.

The 2015 awardees are:

Captain Niloofar Rahmani, Afghan Air Force (Afghanistan)

Ms. Nadia Sharmeen, journalist, women’s rights activist (Bangladesh)

Ms. Rosa Julieta Montaño Salvatierra, Founder and Director, Oficina Jurídica para la Mujer (Bolivia)

Ms. May Sabe Phyu, Director, Gender Equality Network (Burma)

Ms. Béatrice Epaye, President, Fondation Voix du Coeur (Central African Republic)

Ms. Marie Claire Tchecola, nurse, Ebola survivor and activist (Guinea)

Ms. Sayaka Osakabe, Founder and Representative, Matahara Net (Japan)

Ms. Arbana Xharra, Editor-in-Chief, Zeri (Kosovo)

Ms. Tabassum Adnan, Founder, Khwendo Jirga (Pakistan)

Ms. Majd Chourbaji, External Relations Director, Women Now for Development Centers (Syria)

Full biographies are available here.

Following the award ceremony and meetings with U.S. government officials and non-governmental organization counterparts in Washington, D.C., the honorees will travel individually to cities across the United States to participate in professional meetings and events, and engage with the American people through anInternational Visitor Leadership Program. They will visit Atlanta, Chicago, Des Moines, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Pensacola, Pittsburgh, and San Diego. The women will reconvene in New York to participate in the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women, reflect on their visit, and discuss ways to work together to improve the lives of women and girls around the world.

The International Women of Courage Award ceremony will be open to credentialed members of the media and livestreamed at Attendees and those watching the livestream are encouraged to use the Twitter hashtags #IWOC, #womenofcourage, and #IWD15 when discussing the events.

Pre-set time for cameras: 8 a.m. from the 23rd Street Lobby.
Final access time for journalists and still photographers 11:30 a.m. from the 23rd Street Lobby.

Media representatives may attend this briefing upon presentation of one of the following: (1) a U.S. Government-issued identification card (Department of State, White House, Congress, Department of Defense, or Foreign Press Center), (2) a media-issued photo identification card, or (3) a letter from their employer on letterhead verifying their employment as a journalist, accompanied by an official photo identification (driver’s license or passport).

For more information on the ceremony, please contact Rachel Wallace at [email protected]. For more information on the State Department’s work on global women’s issues, visit


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