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Activist Jalila Haider Receives International Women Of Courage Award In US

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Washington DC: Pakistani lawyer and rights’ activist Jalila Haider has been honoured by the US government.

Jalila Haider, known as the ‘The Iron Lady’ of Balochistan, is the founder of ‘We the Humans – Pakistan’, a non-profit organization supporting local communities.  Her advocacy work was honoured for strengthening opportunities for women and children; and supporting vulnerable communities against forced disappearances and atrocities against the Hazara community.

The first lady of the US, Melania Trump, delivered remarks and presented honors, together with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, at the International Women of Courage Awards on Wednesday at the State Department in Washington DC.

The accolade, described as the State Department’s “only all-female award, recognises women around the globe” who have demonstrated exceptional courage and leadership.”

Haider has campaigned against enforced disappearances and killings of Baloch political workers and demonstrations against the mass killings of the Hazaras. Speaking after the ceremony, dedicating her award to all the brave women of Pakistan, Haider said, “this is a huge achievement for all the women who have lost their loved ones to terrorism.”

She added, “the people of Pakistan are pleased the US has recognised my work; moreover, the recognition will help to strengthen my human rights work.” To date, the Pakistan government has not recognised her work.

Haider stressed, despite the criticism about her work from the society and threats from state and non-state actors she would continue.

A dozen women from Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, an autonomous prefecture in China, Malaysia, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen and Zimbabwe received the 2020 International Women of Courage Award on Wednesday from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The twelve women included a recipient who was imprisoned in Syria; now helps families of forcibly disappeared Syrians. Another is the mayor of Maidan Shar, a town in Afghanistan’s conservative Wardak province, who has faced death threats and angry male mobs. Other recipients are journalists and human rights advocates.

Speaking at the occasion, Melania Trump said she was inspired by the personal stories of each of the women, highlighting that they often risk their safety to help others.

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