Happy Fierce Living Friday!

This week I have been surrounded by many Fierce Living women. The way they live their lives and the work they do inspire me. I have included photos of several Fierce Living women below.

Who are the Fierce Living women that inspire you?

International Women of Courage 2014 Awardees and FLOTUS Michelle Obama -- Photo Credit: State.gov
International Women of Courage 2014 Awardees and FLOTUS Michelle Obama — Photo Credit: State.gov

The 10 women who were named 2014 International Women of Courage (#IWOC) by the U.S. Department of State on March 4 and First Lady Michelle Obama are Fierce Living women in my life. The #IWOC awardees were honored for their exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for human rights, women’s equality, and social progress, often at great personal risk. See list of #IWOC awardees below.

  • Dr. Nasrin Oryakhil, Director, Malalai Maternity Hospital Kabul (Afghanistan)
  • Ms. Roshika Deo, Feminist and Political Activist, Be the Change Campaign (Fiji)
  • Bishop Rusudan Gotsiridze, Bishop, Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia (Georgia)
  • Dr. Iris Yassmin Barrios Aguilar, Tribunal President, High Risk Court, (Guatemala)
  • Laxmi, Campaigner, Stop Acid Attacks (India)
  • Ms. Fatimata Touré, Etude, de Formation Femme-Action (Mali)
  • Dr. Maha Al Muneef, Founder and Executive Director, National Family Safety Program (Saudi Arabia) *To be awarded in absentia
  • Ms. Oinikhol Bobonazarova, Director, NGO Perspektiva Plus (Tajikistan)
  • Ms. Ruslana Lyzhychko, activist and pop artist (Ukraine)
  • Ms. Beatrice Mtetwa, human rights lawyer (Zimbabwe)

Click here to read their full biographies. To learn more about #IWOC, check out my Pinterest board of resources.

FLOTUS Michelle Obama and the #IWOC Social Media Leaders - Photo Credit: State.gov
FLOTUS Michelle Obama and the #IWOC Social Media Leaders – Photo Credit: State.gov

First Lady Michelle Obama has always been a Fierce Living woman in my life. Meeting her in person at the #IWOC Award Ceremony was an incredible experience.

Meeting, talking to, and working with my fellow #IWOC social media leaders Kelsey Glover, Salma Bahramy, Jen Charlton, Erin Dunne, Laila Alawa, and Katie Kaestner during the Award Ceremony and meetings with State Department officials gave me a chance to witness how fierce these ladies are. After one day together, they became Fierce Living women in my life!

Author Emily Parker at New America Foundation event
Author Emily Parker at New America Foundation event

On March 4, I attended the New America Foundation’s event featuring a conversation with Emily Parker, author of Now I Know Who My Comrades Are: Voices from the Internet Underground. Listening to Parker discuss her experiences with political activists who blog and use social media in the midst of government imposed restrictions on free speech brought back memories of my own trips to Beijing, China and Havana, Cuba. As I listened to her share her experiences with Cuban online activists, I thought of one of my Cuban digital diva sheroes, Yoani Sanchez, a blogger activist and author of Havana Real: One Woman Fights to Tell the Truth about Cuba Today. During the question and answer period, I asked Parker about her interactions with Sanchez. Her comments about Sanchez revealed a deep passion and commitment to telling stories that might not otherwise get told. In that moment, she became a Fierce Living woman in my life.

Me and Dartmouth Professor and Author Ella Bell Smith at the Center for American Progress Action Fund
Me and Dartmouth Professor and Author Ella Bell Smith at the Center for American Progress Action Fund

Today I attended the Center for American Progress Action Fund’s Blind Spots and Double Binds: The Leadership Issues for Women of Color forum. I attended the forum to hear what Dartmouth Professor Elle L.J. Bell Smith had to say about women of color and leadership. Professor Bell has been one of my Fierce Living sheroes for several years. After the forum, I had a chance to meet and talk with her one-on-one. What a Fierce Living moment!

My Fierce Living mentor and friend Toni Dunton-Butler, Founder of A Silver Thread, Inc. (in all black outfit) at Center for American Progress Action Fund
My Fierce Living mentor and friend Toni Dunton-Butler, Founder of A Silver Thread, Inc. (in all black outfit) at Center for American Progress Action Fund

During the Center for American Progress Action Fund’s event, I sat next to Toni Dunton-Butler, Founder/President of A Silver Thread, Inc. Toni has known me since I was in high school. She has been a Fierce Living mentor and friend for numerous years. Spending time with her at the event and having a juicy lunch chat reminded me how blessed I am to be surrounded by so many Fierce Living women.

Photo Credit: State.gov
Photo Credit: State.gov

Tomorrow is International Women’s Day. It is a day to honor Fierce Living women all over the world. One way you can do that is by participating in the State Department’s Instagram and Twitter #WeAreCourage campaign. All you need to do is post a photo of your woman of courage with the hashtag #WeAreCourage.

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