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Malalai receives courage award from Michelle

Malalai receives courage award from Michelle

Mar 09, 2013 - 10:02

WASHINGTON (PANinfo-icon): US First Lady Michelle Obama on Friday presented 2nd Lieutenant Malalai Bahaduri of Afghanistaninfo-icon with the prestigious International Womeninfo-icon of Courage Award at a glittering function held at the State Department.

 “For courageous and dedicated service to drug law enforcement and training in Afghanistan as a First Sergeant in the Counter Narcotics Police of Afghanistan’s National Interdiction Unit, we name Malalai Bahaduri a woman of courage,” Secretary of State John Kerry said as he read out the citation before Michelle Obama presented her with the prestigious award.

Bahaduri was in fact first among nine others to receive the award. “When the Talibaninfo-icon fell in 2002, Malalai made a life-changing decision. 

She left her job as a telecommunications operator in order to undertake a career in law enforcement.  And when her uncle found out, he broke her nose,” Kerry said.

 “Undeterred, she was eventually elected as the first female member of the Afghan National Interdiction Unit.  And to this day, she endures death threats and daily discrimination, but she has never let that weaken her resolve,” he said.

 “Not only has her persistence inspired other women to join the Narcotics Interdiction Unit, she is already halfway through a training program that will allow her to be promoted to an officer – and the first woman officer in her elite unit,” Kerry said amidst applause.

Before presenting the award, Michelle Obama said when these women witnessed horrific crimes or the disregard for basic human rights they spoke up, risking everything they had to see that justice was done.

“When they saw their communities or their countries were ignoring issues like sexual violence or women’s rights, they gave those issues a face and a voice.  And with every act of strength and defiance, with every blog post, with every community meeting, these women have inspired millions to stand with them, and find their own voices, and work together to achieve real and lasting change,” she said.

In his address, Kerry said women’s issues are more than just women’s issues.  “They’re families’ issues, they’re economic issues, they’re security issues, they’re justice issues.  And they matter to all of us, men as well as women, boys as well as girls, those of us who live in free countries as well as those of us who don’t,” he said.

“That’s why, including with the work of Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Melanne Verveer, the Obama Administration has put advancing the status of women and girls right at the center of America’s foreign policy,” he said.

Congratulating Bahaduri on receiving the prestigious award, the former Afghan Ambassador to the US, Said T Jawad, in a statement said for Afghanistan, International Women’s Day is not only a date.  “It is a commemoration of the sacrifices that women have made across our nation for the last decade and for many years before that,” he said.

“If Afghans and our friends in the International Community are truly committed to peace and prosperity in Afghanistan, then awareness, educationinfo-icon, training, and every development initiative must include our women,” Jawad said.


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