First Lady Melania Trump and the Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, Thomas A. Shannon, presented the 2017 Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award to 13 women from around the world on Wednesday morning at the Department of State.
The women — from countries including Bangladesh, Botswana, Turkey, and Iraq, among others — were recognized for possessing courage and leadership in their achievements in social advocacy, women’s empowerment, human rights, and peace and justice, among other realms.
Outfitted in an elegant long, white belted coat and Christian Louboutin pumps, the first lady spoke about the tremendous work of the honorees and the important role they each play in the United States and the world.
“Together with the international community, the United States must send a clear message that we are watching,” the first lady said. “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 also spoke about the pressing need to put an end to violence against women in the world. “Together, we must declare that the era of allowing the brutality against women and children is over, while affirming that the time for empowering women around the world is now,” she said. She stated that the way in which women are treated directly affects the state of the world. “Wherever women are diminished, the entire world is diminished with them. However, wherever women are empowered, towns and villages, schools and economies are empowered, and together we are all made strong with them,” she said.
Emphasizing equality, the first lady added, “We must continue to work toward gender empowerment and respect for all people from all backgrounds and ethnicities, remembering that we are all members of one race, the human race.” She also urged audience members to use the stories of the honorees to rise above injustice in their own lives.
“To the young people here today, I ask you to allow the triumphs exemplified by these heroic women to inspire you in your own lives and to remind yourselves that you too are capable of greatness.”
She also emphasized the importance of remaining hopeful in the face of adversity.
“I urge you to not be afraid to fail … as long as you learn from it and realize that your first steps will always involve taking a leap of faith — by believing in yourself while choosing to replace fear for hope. Let these brave women serve as daily inspiration, as it is now up to each of you to remain vigilant against injustice in all its many forms.”
After introducing the honorees at the ceremony, the first lady presented each woman honored with an award for her bravery.
Read more from Yahoo Style + Beauty:
- Kate Middleton Hits the Art Scene in Lacy Green Gown
- There’s a ‘Border Wall’ Costume, and People Are Not Happy About It
- Melania Trump Is Channeling Nancy Reagan’s First Lady Style