10 women will be honoured by the U.S. Government.
A Nigerian democracy activist, Josephine Odumakin, is to be honoured, alongside nine other women around the world, with the United States Government’s prestigious Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award.
The U.S. First Lady, Michelle Obama, will join Secretary of States, John Kerry, to honour the 10 women at an event marking the International Women’s Day on Friday, the State Department said on Monday.
“First Lady Michelle Obama will join Secretary Kerry and the awardees as a special guest at the 3 p.m. ceremony in the Dean Acheson Auditorium of the U.S. Department of State,” the department said in a statement.
The Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage 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.
Since the inception of this award in 2007, 67 women from 45 different countries have been honoured.
The 2013 awardees include Mrs. Odumakin, who is the president, Campaign for Democracy; Malalai Bahaduri, First Sergeant, Afghan National Interdiction Unit (Afghanistan); Samira Ibrahim, Coordinator, Know Your Rights (Egypt); Julieta Castellanos, Rector, National Autonomous University of Honduras (Honduras); and Elena Milashina, journalist, human rights activist (Russia).
Others include Fartuun Adan, Executive Director, Elman Peace and Human Rights Centre (Somalia); Tsering Woeser (Wei Se), Tibetan author, poet, blogger (China); Razan Zeitunah, human rights lawyer and founder, Local Coordination Committees (Syria); Ta Phong Tan, blogger (Vietnam); and Nirbhaya “Fearless,” champion for justice (India).
The honorees were expected to begin their visit to the United States in Pittsburgh, where they would participate in an open to the press forum at Chatham University on March 4, as well as in meetings with organizations such as the Women and Girls Foundation and Gwen’s Girls, the state department said.
They will arrive in Washington on Wednesday for meetings with Department of State and White House officials, members of Congress, and leaders of Non-Governmental Organizations.
After the ceremony, the honorees will travel separately to cities across the United States to engage with the American people through an International Visitor Leadership Program.
They will visit Indianapolis, Jackson Hole, Portland, San Francisco, and Tampa. The women will reconvene in San Diego to reflect on their visit and discuss ways to work together to improve the lives of women and girls around the world.
Mrs. Odumakin has over 25 years experience in human rights activism in Nigeria, starting with her role as the Secretary of Women in Nigeria (WIN), Kwara State, in 1988.
She campaigned against the Ibrahim Babangida military dictatorship, and was repeatedly arrested and detained.
She is married to another politician and activist, Yinka Odumakin, who is the spokesperson of the Save Nigeria Group.
She has received several awards, the latest being the Eminent International Gold Award she received in January 2013.