Bangladesh's Fawzia Karim gets International Women of Courage Award

Bangladesh's Fawzia Karim gets International Women of Courage Award

The United States has honoured Bangladesh Supreme Court lawyer Fawzia Karim Firoze with 2024 International Women of Courage Award.

United States secretary of State Antony J Blinken and First Lady Jill Biden hosted the annual International Women of Courage Awards ceremony at the White House on Monday.

Other awardees are — Benafsha Yaqoobi (Afghanistan), Volha Harbunova (Belarus), Ajna Jusić (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Myintzu Win (Myanmar), Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello (Cuba), Fatima Corozo (Ecuador), Fatou Baldeh (The Gambia), Fariba Balouch (Iran), Rina Gonoi (Japan), Rabha El Haymar (Morocco) and Agather Atuhaire (Uganda).

Secretary Blinken said that the United States stands with every woman of courage working to build greater stability, greater equality, and greater opportunity.

‘And we are committed to knocking down the barriers that prevent women and girls from reaching their full potential,’ he said at the ceremony. 

‘That’s why championing the rights of women and girls in all of their diversity is a central part of our foreign policy,’ Blinken said.

He said that over the past three years they had put forward concrete strategies, policies, and programmes to support women and girls around the world. ‘It’s not simply rhetorical, it’s practical, from increasing their political participation to ensuring that they’re parts of things like the clean energy transition,’ Blinken said.

Last year, US president Joe Biden requested a doubling of foreign aid to promote gender equity abroad — an historic $2.6 billion.

Fawzia has fought for the rights of marginalised groups for more than three decades, said the US Department of State.

She is currently the head of her own law chamber and serves as the chairperson for the Foundation for Law and Development.

Under her leadership, FLAD won a ruling determining that the Domestic Workers Protection and Welfare Policy of 2015 was inadequate to protect the rights of domestic workers.

Fawzia has personally filed approximately 3,000 cases on behalf of garment workers against their employers and helped establish the Bangladesh Independent Garment Workers Union Federation and the Domestic Workers Guidelines, said the US Department of State on Friday.

She previously served as the president of the Bangladesh Women Lawyers Association from 2007-2018 and is a founding trustee of the Acid Survivors Trust.

In November 2023, the Bangladesh Supreme Court Administration elected Fawzia to its five-member committee to review sexual harassment cases and make recommendations to the Court.

Now in its 18th year, the secretary of State’s IWOC Award recognises women from around the globe who have demonstrated exceptional courage, strength, and leadership in advocating for peace, justice, human rights, gender equity and equality, and the empowerment of women and girls, in all their diversity — often at great personal risk and sacrifice.

Since March 2007, the Department of State has recognised more than 190 women from 90 countries with the IWOC Award.

The awardees will participate in an in-person International Visitor Leadership Programme and additional programming in Los Angeles, during which they will engage with American counterparts on strategies and ideas to empower women and girls around the globe.