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Friday, April 3, 2009

International Women of Courage Award

Ambiga Sreenevasan, former President Malaysian Bar Council, received the US Secretary of State's “Award for International Women of Courage” from the US State Secretary Hillary Clinton on 11th March, 2009 in the Ben Franklin Room at the State Department in Washington, DC.

She is the first Malaysian woman who was selected as the ... "US honoree from the hundreds of millions of women they represent not only deserve our respect, they deserve our full support,” Secretary Clinton said at the 3rd Annual International Women of Courage Awards ceremony.

“The rights of women – really, of all people – are at the core of these challenges, and human rights will always be central to our foreign policy," Secretary Clinton said in her Speech.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama present give away Secretary of State's Award for International Women of Courage to Malaysia's Ambiga Sreenevasan at the State Department in Washington, DC, on March 11, 2009.

Ambiga, who, for the past two years, has been leading and serving the Malaysian Bar Council, a professional organisation consisting of approximately 13,000 lawyers in Malaysia. She believes in the “Struggle for Justice, Rule of law and Rights of Women”. She was given the honour to deliver a speech on behalf of the six other recipients and herself at the presentation award ceremony.

“This award will help to bring to the international stage our voices and our advocacy on these important issues. This occasion gives us an opportunity to reflect on the importance of the rule of law in promoting the rights of women around the world. When the rule of law is upheld, equality is upheld, the cause of justice is upheld, and human rights are upheld,” she said in her speech.

Earlier on, Hillary Rodham Clinton welcomed those present who attended the ceremony held at the State Department to celebrate International Women’s Day with a very special event and a very special guest, the First Lady, Michelle Obama.

Before Clinton invited Ambiga to deliver her speech on the podium, Secretary of State commended Ambiga as having achieved “a remarkable record of accomplishment in Malaysia. She has pursued judicial reform and good governance, she has stood up for religious tolerance, and she has been a resolute advocate of women’s equality and their full political participation. She is someone who is not only working in her own country, but whose influence is felt beyond the borders of Malaysia.”

The full list of honorees were as follows: In her Speech State Secretary Clinton elucidated why these women of courage were chosen and honoured.

Wazhma Frogh, from Afghanistan; Norma Cruz  from Guatemala; Suaad Allami, from Iraq; Veronika Marchenko, from Russia; Mutabar Tadjibayeva from Uzbekistan; Hadizatou Mani form Niger; Ambiga, the final honoree, responded on her hehalf and also on behalf of all of the honourees. 

Here is Ambiga’s full text speech.

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