The State Department chooses winners 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."
"In my four times attending this ceremony I continue to be inspired by the personal stories that accompany each of these extraordinary women," the first lady said at the ceremony. "Some have demonstrated courage in the face of true terror and all of them speak to the strength and determination of brave women everywhere."
The 2020 winners are:
-Zarifa Ghafari, politician, radio station operator and women's rights activist in Afghanistan
-Lucy Kocharyan, journalist, advocate for children with mental health issues in Armenia
-Shahla Humbatova, human rights attorney who represented LGBT clients in Azerbaijan
-Ximena Galarza, journalist in Bolivia who uncovered fraud in presidential elections
-Claire Ouedraogo, president of the Songmanegre Association for Women's Development in Burkina Faso
-Sayragul Sauytbay, advocate against Chinese policies against Muslims in Kazakhstan
-Susanna Liew, advocate for religious minorities in Malaysia
-Amaya Coppens, leader of 19th of April Student Movement in Nicaragua
-Jalila Haider, human rights attorney in Pakistan known as the Iron Lady of Balochistan
-Amina Khoulani, activist in Syria who helped created Families for Freedom
-Yasmin al Qadhi, journalist who wrote during Arab Spring pro-democracy protests in Yemen
-Dr. Rita Nyampinga, human rights defender in Zimbabwe for more than 35 years