U.S. first lady Melania Trump presented the International Women of Courage Award to 13 women in Washington Wednesday.
“These honorees on the stage with me have fought for their rights and for the rights of others. Each battle forces, such as governments, the courts, gender bias, terrorism, war and corruption, and were willing, in each moment, to face harsh penalties including imprisonment and death,” Trump said.
“Together, with the international community, the United States must send a clear message that we are watching. It is therefore our duty to continue to shine the light on each miraculous victory achieved by women— all capable of trying, truly leading the change to fight for those that cannot fight for themselves,” she said.
WATCH: Melania Trump at Women of Courage Award ceremony
The Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award honors women around the world for exhibiting courage and leadership in their advocacy for peace, justice, human rights, gender equality, and women’s empowerment, often at great personal risk.
Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, the Vietnamese green blogger and environmental activist, could not attend because she’s in prison.
Since its creation in 2007, the program has awarded over 100 women from 60 countries.
Trump presented the awards alongside the Undersecretary of State for political affairs Thomas Shannon.
After the ceremony, the women will travel to a number of American cities on individual International Visitor Leadership Programs before reconvening in Los Angeles to discuss further collaboration to improve the lives of women and girls across the globe.
The 2017 awardees are:
Sharmin Akter, Activist Against Early/ Forced Marriage, Bangladesh
Malebogo Molefhe, Human Rights Activist, Botswana
Natalia Ponce de Leon, President, Natalia Ponce de Leon Foundation, Colombia
Rebecca Kabugho, Political and Social Activist, Democratic Republic of Congo
Jannat Al Ghezi, Deputy Director of The Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, Iraq
Major Aichatou Ousmane Issaka, Deputy Director of Social Work at the Military Hospital of Niamey, Niger
Veronica Simogun, Director and Founder, Family for Change Association, Papua New Guinea
Cindy Arlette Contreras Bautista, Lawyer and Founder of Not One Woman Less, Peru
Sandya Eknelygoda, Human Rights Activist, Sri Lanka
Sister Carolin Tahhan Fachakh, Member, Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (F.M.A.), Syria
Saadet Ozkan, Educator and Gender Activist, Turkey
Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, Blogger and Environmental Activist, Vietnam
Fadia Najib Thabet, Human Rights Activist, Yemen