First Lady Melania Trump attended the International Women of Courage Awards at the State Department on Wednesday for the fourth year in a row. The ceremony was marred after the award for a Finnish journalist, Jessikka Aro, was rescinded when it was revealed that she had posted critical tweets about the Trump administration.

“I continue to be inspired by the personal stories that accompany each of these extraordinary women,” Trump said during her opening remarks. “Courage is something that is not easily taught and is closely tied with bravery, humility and sacrifice.”

These were the twelve recipients of the award this year:

    • Sayragul Sauytbay, a Chinese doctor who was forced to teach Chinese to Muslims in a detention camp who fled and became an outspoken critic of the Chinese Communist Party’s campaign against Muslims
    • Amina Khoulani, a Syrian civil rights leader whose brothers were assassinated by the Assad regime. She founded “Families for Freedom,” an organization dedicated to helping families of disappeared Syrians
    • Zarifa Ghafari, the mayor of Maidan Shahr, the capital city of the Wardak Province, Afghanistan. She is one of the few female mayors in the country and is the youngest at age 26.
    • Lucy Kocharyran, an Armenian journalist working to fight against domestic violence
    • Shahla Umbatova, an Azerbaijani lawyer who has defended numerous political prisoners. Her license was suspended due to her politically-based work.
    • Ximena Galarza, a Bolivian journalist whose work has exposed government corruption and supported democratic values
    • Claire Ouedraogo, the President of the Songmanegre Association for Women’s Development which seeks to end female genital mutilation/cutting and empower women in Burkina Faso
    • Susanna Liew, the wife of pastor Raymond Koh who mysteriously vanished in February 2017. She has since become an advocate for other members of religious minorities who similarly disappeared in Malaysia.
    • Amaya Coppens, a 26-year old activist who has been jailed multiple times by the Nicaraguan government for her criticism
    • Jalilah Haider, a human rights lawyer from Pakistan who founded “We the Humans – Pakistan”, to lift local communities by strengthening opportunities for vulnerable women and children
    • Yasmin al Qadhi, a journalist from Yemen who obtained the military’s commitment to release any child recruited or detained by the military in its civil war efforts
    • Dr. Rita Nyampinga of Zimbabwe, who has worked to achieve prison reform, especially for women in detention, and has fought to create a fairer legal system

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