First lady helps present courage awards to 13 women

Melania Trump's participation in Wednesday's award ceremony is an important marker for the first lady, who's gotten off to a slow start in her new job and has chosen to remain primarily in NY while her son, Barron, finishes the school year.

The first lady's vocal support of diversity appeared somewhat at odds with the stance of President Donald Trump's administration, whose "America first" worldview has often cast outsiders as a threat.

First Lady Melania Trump and the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Thomas A. Shannon, presented the 2017 Secretary of State's International Women of Courage Award to thirteen women from around the world on Wednesday morning at the Department of State. In her remarks, the first lady said that we must declare "the time for empowering women around the world is now".

Praising the strength and courage of the laureates who have fought against gender bias and discrimination, Melania Trump said it is women like them who will "ignite a global battle against inhumanity". The 2017 awardees included a group of about a dozen women, including Veronica Simogun, the Director and founder of Family for Change Association from Papua New Guinea, Major Aichatou Ousmane Issaka, a Deputy Director of Social Work at the Military Hospital of Niamey from Niger and Rebecca Kabugho, a political and social activist from the Democratic Republic of Congo. More recently, she has identified women's empowerment as a key platform for her East Wing. "Every door opened by our vision will inspire others, and strengthen the platform on which women and men of courage may stand for generations to come", Kerry said. "However, wherever women are empowered, towns and villages, schools and economies are empowered, and together we are all made stronger with them", she said before presenting the honourees with their awards. The legislation also improves burn treatment for victims.

Three of the honorees Wednesday were from countries targeted by Trump's thwarted travel ban on refugees and travelers from Muslim-majority nations: Iraq, Syria and Yemen. The 13 honorees will be traveling to different USA cities this month and will join up again in Los Angeles for a summit.

  • Larry Hoffman