State Department Correspondent
Razia Sultana of Bangladesh and nine others won the International Women of Courage Award 2019 for their contribution in exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for peace, justice, human rights, gender equality, and women’s empowerment.
The nine others awardees are: Naw K’nyaw Paw of Burma, Moumina Houssein Darar of Djibouti, Mama Maggie of Egypt, Colonel Khalida Khalaf Hanna al-Twal of Jordan, Sister Orla Treacy of Ireland, Olivera Lakić of Montenegro, Flor de María Vega Zapata of Peru, Marini de Livera of Sri Lanka and Anna Aloys Henga of Tanzania, said a press release from the State Department of United States issued Wednesday.
Secretary of State Pompeo will host the Annual International Women of Courage (IWOC) Awards at the U.S. Department of State to honor 10 extraordinary women from around the world on Thursday. First Lady of the United States Melania Trump will deliver special remarks at the ceremony.
Razia is being honored for her fearless efforts to defend the Rohingya community in Mianmar, conducting human rights advocacy on behalf of Rohingya refugees, and documenting systematic sexual violence against women and girls.
Razia Sultana was born in Maungdaw, Burma, in 1973 to ethnic Rohingya parents and has devoted her career to advancing human rights for her own community and for all in Burma. A citizen of Bangladesh, she has spent most of her life as a lawyer, teacher, and human rights advocate. Sultana has been working directly with the Rohingya, particularly women and girls, since 2014.
She practices law advocating for the Rohingya and conducts research and educational programs, specializing in trauma, mass rape, and the trafficking of Rohingya women and girls. Since 2016, she has interviewed hundreds of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and published two reports – “Witness to Horror” and “Rape by Command” – documenting systematic sexual violence by Burmese security forces against the Rohingya. She contributed to “The Killing Fields of Alethankyaw,” a recent report by the Kaladan press. Beyond being a lawyer and an educator, Razia Sultana is a coordinator of the Free Rohingya Coalition (FRC) and a director of the Arakan Rohingya National Organization’s (ARNO) women’s section. While she has always identified as a Rohingya, as a human rights activist, Razia Sultana believes in rights and justice for all in Burma as a means to bring peace.
Now in its 13th year, the Secretary of State’s IWOC Award 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 and sacrifice. Since the inception of this award in March 2007, the State Department has recognized more than 120 women from more than 65 different countries.
U.S. diplomatic missions overseas nominate one woman of courage from their respective host countries. The finalists are selected and approved by senior Department officials.