“For her steadfast commitment to nonviolent resistance and national unity in the fight against government corruption and human rights abuses, we name Ruslana Lyzhychko a Woman of Courage,” deputy secretary of state Heather Higginbottom said at the ceremony in Washington.
The US first lady Michelle Obama came to congratulate Ruslana and other women from around the world for the sixth consecutive year. “So when we see these women raise their voices and move their feet and empower others to create change, we need to realize that each of us has that same power and that same obligation,” Obama remarked as quoted by Radio Liberty.
This year’s winners include women from Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Fiji, Saudi Arabia, Mali, India, Guatemala, Tajikistan, and Georgia. Female Evangelical preacher Rusudan Gotsiridze was recognized as a woman of courage for her work in the field of religious tolerance, equal rights for women and protection of all minorities in Georgia.
The annual International Women of Courage Award was founded in the US in 2007 by secretary of state Condoleezza Rice. The award is bestowed on women who participate in the struggle for human rights and social progress, often exposing themselves to risks. The award ceremony was held at the US State Department. The US secretary of sate, usually present at the award ceremony, missed the event this time, as John Kerry is currently in Kyiv. By the way, he apologized on Twitter for being unable to attend the event on March 4.