Rohingya lawyer gets US State Department “Women of Courage” Award

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10:40 AM, March 06, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:39 PM, March 06, 2019

Rohingya lawyer gets US State Department “Women of Courage” Award

In this photo taken from UN News, Razia Sultana, human rights activist and lawyer, addresses the Security Council’s open debate on behalf of the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security. Photo: UN Photo/Mark Garten

 Star Online Report

Rohingya-born Bangladeshi citizen Razia Sultana has been awarded the United States’ International Women of Courage (IWOC) Award  for her work with Rohingya refugees.

She is among the 10 extraordinary women from around the world who will be honoured this year, said a press release from the State Department of United States issued today.

Secretary of State Pompeo will host the award at US Department of State on March 7. First Lady of the US, Melania Trump, will deliver special remarks at the ceremony. IWOC Award recognises women around the globe for exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for peace, justice, human rights, gender equality, and women’s empowerment.

Since the inception of this award in March 2007, the State Department is said to have recognised more than 120 women from more than 65 different countries. US diplomatic missions overseas nominate one woman of courage from their respective host countries. The finalists are selected and approved by senior officials.

The finalists are selected and approved by senior department officials. Nine other 2019 awardees are – Naw K’nyaw Paw of Myanmar, Moumina Houssein Darar of Djibouti, Mama Maggie of Egypt, Colonel Khalida Khalaf Hanna al-Twal of Jordan, Sister Orla Treacy of Ireland, Olivera Laki of Montenegro, Flor de Maria Vega Zapata of Peru, Marini de Livera of Sri Lanka and Anna Aloys Henga of Tanzania.

Following the official award ceremony and meetings or interviews with government officials, NGOs, media, and others in Washington, IWOC honorees will travel to individual US cities on the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP.) American organisations and businesses will host IWOC awardees and collaborate with them on strategies and ideas to empower women both in the US and abroad. The awardees will reconvene in Los Angeles for a closing ceremony before returning to their home countries.


Razia Sultana was born in Maungdaw, Myanmar, in 1973 to ethnic Rohingya parents and has devoted her career for human rights for her own community and for all in Myanmar. A citizen of Bangladesh, she has spent most of her life as a lawyer, teacher, and human rights advocate, says her biography at US State Department’s website.

She has been working directly with the Rohingya, particularly women and girls, since 2014. She practices law advocating for the Rohingya and conducts research and educational programs, specializing in trauma, mass rape, and the trafficking.

Since 2016, she interviewed hundreds of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and published two reports – “Witness to Horror” and “Rape by Command” – documenting systematic sexual violence by Burmese security forces against the Rohingya.

She contributed to “The Killing Fields of Alethankyaw,” a recent report by the Kaladan press. Beyond being a lawyer and an educator, Sultana is a coordinator of the Free Rohingya Coalition (FRC) and a director of the Arakan Rohingya National Organization’s (ARNO) women’s section.

While she has always identified as a Rohingya, as a human rights activist, Sultana believes in rights and justice for all in Burma as a means to bring peace.

Related Topics :  Myanmar Rohingya crisis , Human Rights Activist Razia Sultana


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Posted in International, Media, Myanmar, Publication, Report, Rohingya

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