WASHINGTON, March 4 (UPI) -- First Lady Michelle Obama and State Department Deputy Secretary Heather Higginbottom presented the International Women of Courage Award to ten women from ten countries at a ceremony at the State Department on Tuesday.
The Secretary of State's International Women of Courage Award was established in 2007 to recognize "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."
The 2014 award recipients:
Dr. Nasrin Oryakhil, Director, Malalai Maternity Hospital Kabul (Afghanistan) Ms. Roshika Deo, Feminist and Political Activist, Be the Change Campaign (Fiji) Bishop Rusudan Gotsiridze, Bishop, Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia (Georgia) Dr. Iris Yassmin Barrios Aguilar, Tribunal President, High Risk Court, (Guatemala) Laxmi, Campaigner, Stop Acid Attacks (India) Ms. Fatimata Touré, Community activist and Executive Director, Groupe de Recherche, de’Etude, de Formation Femme-Action (Mali) Dr. Maha Al Muneef, Founder and Executive Director, National Family Safety Program (Saudi Arabia) *To be awarded in absentia Ms. Oinikhol Bobonazarova, Director, NGO Perspektiva Plus (Tajikistan) Ms. Ruslana Lyzhychko, EuroMaidan volunteer and People’s Artist of Ukraine (Ukraine) Ms. Beatrice Mtetwa, human rights lawyer (Zimbabwe)
Higginbottom announced each award recipient by name at the ceremony, including one woman who was honored for her volunteer efforts in Ukraine's Euromaidan demonstrations that ultimately toppled Russian-backed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
DepSec Higginbottom: We name Ruslana Lyzhychko, a EuroMaidan volunteer and People’s Artist of #Ukraine, an International Woman of Courage.— StateDept Live (@StateDeptLive) March 4, 2014
Secretary of State John Kerry was not in attendance because of professional travel to Ukraine, where he met Tuesday with interim government leaders who were -- two weeks earlier -- Euromaidan leaders demonstrating against the government of Viktor Yanukovych.