I am celebrating National Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day today by attending the #StateMeetup for the International Women of Courage (#IWOC) Award Ceremony which will be hosted by Deputy Secretary Higginbottom and First Lady Michelle Obama. Ten amazing women from around the globe will be honored for their exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for human rights, women’s equality, and social progress, often at great personal risk.
Dr. Nasrin Oryakhil, Director, Malalai Maternity Hospital Kabul
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)
After the Ceremony, I will attend a private policy briefing with a State Department official about U.S. engagement on international women’s issues.
I’ll be live tweeting about the event and sharing photos, podcasts, and videos from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Be sure to follow me on Facebook, Google+,Instagram, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Twitter, Vine, and VoiceBo (podcast). I’ll post a blog recap of my adventures and lessons learned later this week.
Click here to watch the State Department’s live coverage of the #IWOC Award Ceremony at 11:30 AM EST. Follow @StateDept on Twitter and use the hashtags #IWOC to participate in the conversation.
Today, my Digital Sister Janet Johnson sent me a Facebook email about the U.S. Department of State’s application for social media leaders to attend the International Women of Courage #StateMeetup on March 4 in Washington, DC. I met Janet while attending the White House State of the Union Social in January (see photo above where Janet is wearing a red sweater). Through several conversations, we discovered we share a passion for digital citizenship. I am deeply grateful to her for sharing the #StateMeetup information. Her act of sharing represents #DigitalSisterhood and the power of promoting Digital Citizenship (#digcitizen)!!!!
#StateMeetups were created to expand the Department of State’s engagement efforts by inviting social media leaders to attend in-person meetings and engage with the Department through Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, and other social media channels.
About the International Women of Courage (IWOC) #StateMeetup
The IWOC Awards was created in 2007 to honor women around the globe who have shown exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for human rights and women’s equality. While in the United States, awardees participate in the International Visitors Leadership exchange program where they get to meet with their U.S. counterparts and leaders.
Social media leaders will attend the IWOC Award Ceremony, hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry with special guest First Lady Michelle Obama, at the Department of State on March. They will also participate in a policy briefing with a Department official about international women’s issues. I encourage you to apply to participate in the #StateMeetup. Visit www.state.gov/social for more information. The deadline is February 26 (today) at 5:00 p.m. EST.
Excerpt from Chapter Four: A Game Changer: Beijing Women’s Conference
One of the benefits of following my heart and living my life passionately in Beijing was meeting women from all over the world. During the NGO Forum’s opening ceremony, I sat with a group of women from Brazil, India, Kenya, Korea, the Netherlands, Russia, Senegal, and Zimbabwe. As the ceremony ended, we stood together and sang Pat Humphies song, “Keep on Moving Forward.” Five lines from that song became my mantra and helped me fully embrace my conference experience as a series of life-changing adventures.
“Gonna keep on walking forward Keep on walking forward Keep on walking forward Never turning back Never turning back”
One of those life-changing adventures happened when I heard former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton give her famous “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights” speech which included the following remarks:
“Those of us who have the opportunity to be here have the responsibility to speak for those who could not.
We need to understand that there is no formula for how women should lead their lives. That’s why we must respect the choices that each woman makes for herself and her family. If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, it is that human rights – and women’s rights are human rights. Let us not forget that among those rights are the right to speak freely – and the right to be heard.”
Clinton’s words echoed what was in my heart, gave me a clearer understanding of why I was in Beijing, and helped shape my digital path. They came to life when I visited a conference art exhibit organized by the Women’s Caucus for Art (WCA), a national member organization of multidisciplinary and multicultural artists, art historians, students, educators, and museum professionals. While I was there, I struck up a conversation with several WCA artists who were overseeing the exhibit. We talked about WCA’s role as a NGO and founding member of the Feminist Art Project, the conference, their careers, and my life as a budding artist. Before we parted, they gave me their business cards and encouraged me to visit the WCA web site and join the D.C. Chapter.
Walking with Sharon into the NGO Forum’s Internet Café was another life changing adventure. It marked the first time I saw a diverse group of women sitting at computers. My face lit up with a smile as I realized how powerful women could be with Internet access. They were free to speak their minds, discuss their concerns, share information, build community, create web sites and coalitions to address their concerns, and launch advocacy campaigns that defied geographical boundaries. They were demonstrating what Clinton said in her speech: “Let us not forget that among those rights are the right to speak freely – and the right to be heard.”