U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and first lady Jill Biden will host the annual International Women of Courage (IWOC) Awards in Washington, honoring 11 women including, Danièle Darlan, a professor from Central African Republic (CAR), and Meaza Mohammed, a journalist in Ethiopia.
Darlan, former president of the CAR’s Constitutional Court, is known as “Woman of Iron” for her defense of democratic values in the face of intimidation and political pressure. Before her removal by the government in October last year, Darlan challenged a proposal to redraft the country’s constitution and “exemplified her unwavering commitment to the rule of law,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement.
The CAR’s top court had annulled a commission for constitutional reforms that would have removed term limits and allowed President Faustin-Archange Touadera to run again prior to Darlan’s removal.
In Ethiopia, Mohammed has been a “strong voice” for victims of violence as an independent journalist and founder of the YouTube-based Roha TV, the State Department said. She has documented the stories of survivors of sexual violence, giving voice to dozens of women who were raped during the two-year conflict in the north. Mohammed has been arrested several times for her reporting.
Sexual violence was used as a weapon of war by both sides of the conflict, according to the United Nations. The federal government and regional Tigrayan forces signed an African Union-brokered peace agreement in November last year.
Other award recipients hail from Turkey, Argentina, Costa Rica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mongolia, Poland and Ukraine.
The State Department’s IWOC awards has recognized over 180 women from more than 80 countries since 2007.
Some of the information in this report came from Reuters.