Swat activist honored with International Women of Courage Award

Updated March 06, 2015

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Tabassum Adnan was awarded in recognition of her work for the improvement of women's rights. -Twitter photo
Tabassum Adnan was awarded in recognition of her work for the improvement of women's rights. -Twitter photo

After Malala Yousafzai, the scenic Swat valley is again in the limelight on the world scene due to another brave woman from the area - Tabassum Adnan, the founder of Khwendo Jirga.

In recognition of her service for women's rights, the United States has awarded Tabassum Adnan the 2015 Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award.

US Deputy Secretary Heather Higginbottom presented 10 extraordinary women from 10 countries the award. First Lady Michelle Obama will join Higginbottom and the award winners as a special guest.

A victim of child marriage, Tabassum Adnan was married at the age of 13. The marriage and spike with domestic abuse, ended after 20 years when she gathered courage to divorce her husband.

Later she started her NGO, Khwendo Jirga, or Sister’s Council, a women-only Jirga where women meet weekly to discuss issues such as honor killings, acid attacks and swara, or giving women as compensation for crimes.

The Jirga has launched awareness campaigns related to women's security, their right to vote and also offer free legal help to victims of violence.

According to a press release by the US Department of State, “the Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award annually recognizes women around the globe who have demonstrated exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for peace, justice, human rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment, often at great personal risk.”

The award was launched in 2007, and since then, 86 women from more than 50 different countries have been honored.

“This year’s recipients reflect women’s roles as agents of change and leaders in many of the crises and challenges facing the world today, from countering violent extremism to promoting security and recovery from the Ebola Virus Disease,” said the press release.

The other 2015 award winners are:

Captain Nilofar Rahmani, Afghan Air Force (Afghanistan)

Nadia Sharmeen, journalist, women’s rights activist (Bangladesh)

Rosa Julieta Montaño Salvatierra, Founder and Director, Oficina Jurídica para la Mujer (Bolivia)

May Sabe Phyu, Director, Gender Equality Network (Burma)

Béatrice Epaye, President, Fondation Voix du Coeur (Central African Republic)

Marie Claire Tchecola, nurse, Ebola survivor and activist (Guinea)

Sayaka Osakabe, Founder and Representative, Matahara Net (Japan)

Arbana Xharra, Editor-in-Chief, Zeri (Kosovo)

Majd Chourbaji, External Relations Director, Women Now for Development Centers (Syria)