WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — First lady Jill Biden delivered remarks Monday morning at the State Department, honoring nearly two dozen women on International Women’s Day.
The department recognized 21 women with the International Women of Courage Award.
The annual award, now in its 15th year, recognizes international women who have demonstrated leadership and courage in advocating for peace, human rights and women’s empowerment. International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
“Some of these women have spent their lives fighting for their cause. Others are just starting out on a journey they didn’t ask for,” Biden said in remarks prepared for the ceremony.
The honorees include seven from Afghanistan who are receiving posthumous honors. The 14 living awardees are from Belarus, Cameroon, China, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guatemala, Iran, Myanmar, Nepal, Somalia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Venezuela.
Biden said the women the State Department honored for their courage made an “intentional decision” to persist and demand justice despite their fear.
“Some were called to service, and some couldn’t escape it,” Biden said. “They are fighting for their own lives and for their children. They want to right the wrongs of our past, to build a brighter future for everyone. They aren’t immune to fear. No one is.”
“These women made an extraordinary choice, to persist, to demand justice, to believe that, despite the obstacles and fear they faced, there is a future worth fighting for,” Biden said in the prepared remarks.
The ceremony was held virtually and not at the State Department because of the coronavirus pandemic. The event was hosted by Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Also on International Women’s Day, President Joe Biden is set to sign an executive order directing the Department of Education to review policies implemented by the former administration and establish a White House Gender Policy Council.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.