The U.S. Department of State has named two African leaders among 12 extraordinary women, winning the 2020 International Women of Courage (IWOC) awards.
The two African women on the list are Dr. Rita Nyampinga (Zimbabwe) – fighting for gender equality in the workplace since she joined a trade union in 1983, and Claire Ouedraogo (Burkina Faso) – for working to eliminate female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) and promoting female empowerment through family planning education.
In its 14th year, the Secretary of State’s IWOC Award recognises 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.
The US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo hosted the twelve women at the Annual International Women of Courage (IWOC) Awards on Wednesday, March 4th, 2020.
Congratulations to the 2020 International #WomenofCourage! They now travel across America as part of the @StateIVLP exchange program. Courageous women inspire a better world. Who inspires you? #IWOC2020 pic.twitter.com/zgRgKzM4R8
— U.S. State Dept | Office of Global Women's Issues (@StateGWI) March 4, 2020
Since the inception of this award in March 2007, the Department of State has recognised 134 women from 73 countries. This year will bring the total to 146 awardees from 77 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, according to a statement issued by the Office of the Secretary of State.
Other women named on the list include Zarifa Ghafari (Afghanistan), Lucy Kocharyan (Armenia), Shahla Humbatova (Azerbaijan), Ximena Galarza (Bolivia), Sayragul Sauytbay (China), Susanna Liew (Malaysia), and Amaya Coppens (Nicaragua), Amina Khoulani (Syria), and Jalila Haider (Pakistan).
Mama Maggie of Egypt, Anna Aloys Henga of Tanzania, and Moumina Houssein Darar of Djibouti made the 2019 list. In 2013, Nigerian activist, Joel Odumakin made the list of global leaders presented with the International Women of Courage Award.