Politics

Melania Trump Honors Women, Some Affected By Travel Ban

| by Michael Doherty

First lady Melania Trump made a public appearance on March 29 to honor 13 "International Women of Courage," some of whom were from countries included in President Donald Trump's travel ban targeting six Muslim-majority countries.

"I am deeply humbled to be here today to honor [these] remarkable and inspirational women, who have given so much for so many, regardless of the unimaginable threat to their own personal safety," Melania said at the State Department event, according to Daily Mail.

"Together, we must declare that the era of allowing the brutality against women and children is over while affirming that the time for empowering women around the world is now," she continued. "For wherever women are diminished, the entire world is diminished with them. However, wherever women are empowered, towns and villages, schools and economies are empowered, and together we are all made stronger with them." 

The award, started in 2007 by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, honors women who have advocated for human rights, gender equality and women's empowerment, "often at great personal risk," Fortune reports. Since the award's inception, more than 100 women from 60 countries have been honored.

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Each U.S. embassy is allowed to nominate one woman for the award. This year's honorees included women from Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo, Peru, Turkey and Vietnam.

Several honorees came from countries that were affected by the president's travel ban, including Syria, Yemen and Iraq, which was excluded from the revised ban.

Yemeni human rights activist Najib Thabet was one of the event's honorees, alongside Colombian acid burn victim Natalia Ponce de Leon, who campaigned for a law that targeted the perpetrators of acid attacks in Colombia.

Other women honored at the event included Sister Carolin Tahhan Fachakh of Syria and Jannat Al Ghazi, the deputy director of the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq.

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"As women, we must continue to stand together with the steadfast goal of making our world safer through acts of collaborative and individual bravery," said the first lady.

The president's travel ban initially called for a 90-day suspension of travel for citizens of seven countries and an indefinite ban on refugees from Syria. After the Jan. 27 executive order was blocked by a court, the president issued a revised order, which excluded Iraq from the list of affected countries, removed the indefinite ban for Syrian refugees, and would no longer affect green card holders and permanent residents.

The March 6 revised order was blocked by a federal judge in Hawaii. Judge Derrick Watson issued a temporary restraining order for the ban, Bloomberg reports.

Sources: Daily Mail, Fortune, Bloomberg / Photo credit: Grain Sand/Flickr

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