Making a rare public appearance, the first lady presented the ‘International Women of Courage’ awards at the state department.
Honoring 13 recipients from around the world at the ceremony, Trump said the United States must “continue to shine the light on each miraculous victory achieved by women”
Among those honoured include the deputy director of a group in Iraq that provides protection and shelter for women suffering from domestic violence, a woman who tries to prevent children in Yemen from being radicalised and a nun who runs a nursery in Damascus. Under President Donald Trump’s revised executive order on immigration, citizens of both these nations would not receive U.S visas.
Established in 2007 by Condoleezza Rice, the then- Secretary of State, the awards were created to recognise those women who have shown leadership, courage and who have been adversaries for women’s rights.
The 13 women honored Wednesday come from Bangladesh, Botswana, Colombia, Congo, Iraq, Niger, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Sri Lanka, Syria, Turkey, Vietnam and Yemen.
Speaking at the event, Melania said:
“As leaders of our shared global community, we must continue to work toward gender empowerment, and respect for people from all backgrounds and ethnicities, remembering always that we are all ultimately members of one race – the human race,”
“Their stories of individual bravery remind us that there is always hope whenever the human spirit is brought to bear in the service of others,” Melania Trump said, “and that healing and personal empowerment are often born from such deeds.”
The awards were then announced by Thomas Shannon, the undersecretary of state for political affairs.
Melania’s appearance on Wednesday is one of her few public appearances since becoming first lady. She continues to live in New York City with her son, Barron. A recent petition has received 250,000 signatures, requesting Ms. Trump pay for her own travel and security expenses, rather than U.S taxpayers.