2013 International Women of Courage Award Ceremony with First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry

Mrs. Obama:

“When these women witnessed horrific crimes or the disregard for basic human rights they spoke up, risking everything they had to see that justice was done. When they saw their communities or their countries were ignoring issues like sexual violence or women’s rights, they gave those issues a face and a voice. And with every act of strength and defiance, with every blog post, with every community meeting, these women have inspired millions to stand with them, and find their own voices, and work together to achieve real and lasting change.

And that is truly the power of the International Women of Courage Award — that this is not simply an honor bestowed upon a few, but a call for all of us to open our eyes to the injustices around us, and to ask ourselves just what kind of courage we’ve got inside our own hearts….

And the potential that I see in not just all of you, but all of our young women all across this world, that reminds me that the rest of us must work to lift up the women and girls in our own communities — because we know that when women and girls rise, their communities and their countries rise with them.”

The First Lady’s complete remarks: http://1.usa.gov/YISSXr

Secretary Kerry:

“As you know, I returned less than 48 hours ago from Europe and the Middle East…

I spoke with one young woman at a coffeehouse in Berlin. She is Muslim, and told me that she’s part of an organization of teenagers who have created a dialogue about equality and tolerance. So, my friends, steps from the Reichstag and the markings – the old markings and brick of the Berlin Wall, a young Muslim woman today proudly stands up with her peers to map a very different, and better, more open future. Her activism and her fearlessness spoke to me about a special kind of courage….

…. it is also the courage of every man who defends his daughter’s right to an equal education, or every brother who challenges a law that keeps his sister from owning property or opening a business, or every husband who not only promises that the cycle of domestic violence can stop with him, but who proves it.

I see that courage and I see that hope in every woman on this stage – and you will learn that in a moment – and in the testimony of the four honorees who cannot be here today because of the repression and the intimidation that still festers around the world. I see how much work we still have to do, and so do you. One of our awardees is in hiding. One is in prison. Another is locked under house arrest. And we present a fourth award posthumously for a brave woman whose life was brazenly stolen by brutal violence.

Their cause is our cause. Women’s issues, as we know, are more than just women’s issues. They’re families’ issues, they’re economic issues, they’re security issues, they’re justice issues. And they matter to all of us, men as well as women….”

The Secretary’s complete remarks: http://1.usa.gov/X5gOrc

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