Secretary of State John Kerry WASHINGTON, D.C. /eNewsChannels/ — On Friday, March 8, Secretary of State John Kerry will honor 10 extraordinary women with the Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award. First Lady Michelle Obama will join Secretary Kerry and the awardees as a special guest at the 3 p.m. ceremony in the Dean Acheson Auditorium of the U.S. Department of State.

The Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award annually recognizes women around the globe who have shown exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for women’s rights and empowerment, often at great personal risk. Since the inception of this award in 2007, the Department of State has honored 67 women from 45 different countries.

The 2013 awardees are:

Malalai Bahaduri, First Sergeant, Afghan National Interdiction Unit (Afghanistan)

Samira Ibrahim, Coordinator, Know Your Rights (Egypt)

Julieta Castellanos, Rector, National Autonomous University of Honduras (Honduras)

Dr. Josephine Obiajulu Odumakin, President, Campaign for Democracy (Nigeria)

Elena Milashina, journalist, human rights activist (Russia)

Fartuun Adan, Executive Director, Elman Peace and Human Rights Centre (Somalia)

Tsering Woeser (Wei Se), Tibetan author, poet, blogger (China) *

Razan Zeitunah, human rights lawyer and Founder, Local Coordination Committees (Syria) *

Ta Phong Tan, blogger (Vietnam) *

Nirbhaya “Fearless,” champion for justice (India) **

* Will be awarded in absentia. ** Will be awarded posthumously.

Full biographies and photos are available here:

The honorees begin their visit to the United States in Pittsburgh, where they will participate in an open to the press forum at Chatham University on March 4, as well as in meetings with organizations such as the Women and Girls Foundation and Gwen’s Girls. They arrive in Washington on March 6 for meetings with Department of State and White House officials, Members of Congress, and NGO leaders.

Following the award ceremony, the honorees will travel separately to cities across the United States to engage with the American people through an International Visitor Leadership Program. They will visit Indianapolis, Jackson Hole, Portland, San Francisco, and Tampa. The women will reconvene in San Diego to reflect on their visit and discuss ways to work together to improve the lives of women and girls around the world.