Exchange Matters / April 26, 2019

International Women of Courage Visit the Global Ties Network

From March 8-18, this year’s recipients of the U.S. Department of State’s International Women of Courage Award participated in the International Visitor Leadership Program, taking them across the country from Boston to Los Angeles. In each city, our Community-Based Members served as hosts, connecting them to local counterparts in their work in peace, human rights, and women’s empowerment. See where they went and our members’ reflections of their visit.


Atlanta, GA
Woman of Courage: Colonel Khalida Khalaf Hanna al-Twal of Jordan
Hosted by: Georgia Council for International Visitors

Colonel Khalida Al-Twal (fourth from left) poses with women representatives of the Atlanta Police Department.


“GCIV was truly honored to host Colonel Khalida Al-Twal in Atlanta. Learning about her career and work in Jordan, she has more than proven she is a Woman of Courage. Our community was moved and inspired by her story, and look forward to long lasting connections and friendships.”

—Emily O’Harris, Senior Program Director


Minneapolis, MN
Woman of Courage: Razia Sultana of Bangladesh
Hosted by: Global Minnesota

Razia Sultana (center) with staff of Standpoint, an organization that promotes justice for domestic and sexual violence victims, in Minneapolis, MN. Photo credit: Laurel Stoneking


Razia Sultana (right) at the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center in Minneapolis, MN. Credit: Laurel Stoneking.


“Global Minnesota proudly welcomed Razia Sultana of Bangladesh to the Twin Cities. During her time, Razia met with local organizations to discuss strategies and ideas for serving at-risk communities, refugees, and survivors of domestic violence. Razia met with recent sex trafficking survivors who have taken on a leadership role at The Link, a local nonprofit, to help shape future trauma care and programming. Razia spoke to more than 60 high school students interested in foreign affairs and human rights. She shared the history of the Rohingya crisis and the abuses suffered by women and girls in the region, grabbing the attention of students eager to better understand refugee issues.

A lawyer and human rights advocate, Razia has dedicated her life to defending the Rohingya community in Burma, conducting human rights advocacy on behalf of Rohingya refugees, and documenting systematic violence against women and girls.”

—Global Minnesota


Boston, MA
Woman of Courage: Olivera Lakic of Montenegro
Hosted by: WorldBoston

Olivera Lakic (center) with WorldBoston staff at the offices of The Boston Globe.


“Being able to host International Woman of Courage awardee Olivera Lakic from Montenegro was a true pleasure and we greatly enjoyed having the opportunity to learn from such an inspiring woman! While visiting The Boston Globe, she was bouncing off the walls with excitement during the tour of the newsroom and was ecstatic to be able to pick up her own copy of the day’s issue. It was moving to see how much this visit meant to her and served as a wonderful reminder of the incredible impact of exchanges.”

—Jenna Bergquist, Manager of Outreach and Custom Visitor Programs


Seattle, WA
Women of Courage: Moumina Houssein Darar of Djibouti
Hosted by: World Affairs Council – Seattle

Moumina Darar (center) poses with Jacqueline Miller (to her right), President of the World Affairs Council – Seattle, and staff.


“Moumina Darar was warmly received in Seattle. At a public speaking event, she shared the successes and challenges of pursuing her lifelong dream to work in law enforcement, inspiring students at the Seattle Girls’ School. She also shared professional experiences with Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best, and spent an evening engaging with the members of the local Somali community.”

—Sean Bowman, Program Officer, International Visitor Program


Chicago, IL
Woman of Courage: Mama Maggie of Egypt
Hosted by: WorldChicago

Mama Maggie (far right) with WorldChicago staff in Chicago, IL.


“Having Mama Maggie come to Chicago was inspiring. She is a quiet force of nature who touches the lives of all she meets. In Chicago, Mama Maggie spoke with homeless teenagers of the NGO, Teen Living Programs. There, she asked a young woman about her dreams, rather than asking why she was homeless. WorldChicago also hosted Mama Maggie with a small reception, where she took the leftover food and passed it out to the homeless people she met on the way to her hotel. Mama Maggie is a woman who used courage to change her world, and we were delighted to honor her in Chicago!”

—Peggy Parfenoff, President


Portland, OR
Woman of Courage: Flor de Maria Vega Zapata of Peru
Hosted by: WorldOregon

(Left to right): Yeji Kim, Korea West intern; Traci Ross, Executive Director, Center for Women’s Leadership, Portland State University; Flor de María Vega Zapata; Megan Jessup-Varnum, WorldOregon Intern.


“It was a huge honor to host Flor de María Vega Zapata. Our community welcomed the opportunity to learn from Ms. Vega, as she openly shared her knowledge and expertise in law. Her visit resulted in a quality two-way exchange and included formal opportunities for Ms. Vega to share her work with the U.S. District Attorney, Lewis & Clark Law School, and other community partners. She also presented at WorldOregon’s Youth Forum, an event that included approximately 75 high school students to help motivate the next generation of global citizens.”

—Amy Barss, Director of International Visitors and Training Programs


Detroit, MI
Woman of Courage: Anna Henga of Tanzania
Hosted by: Global Ties Detroit

Anna Henga (center) meets “Powering Up!” author Anne Doyle, Global Ties Detroit President Francine Pegues, and Board Members Rosemary Max and Sanja Savic-Berhamovic. Photo credit: Melanie Grund


“It was an honor for Global Ties Detroit to host International Woman of Courage awardee Anna Henga from Tanzania. Anna’s work advancing human rights, promoting women’s empowerment, and advocating for families was inspiring to those in Detroit who had the opportunity to meet her, including leaders from the ACLU of Michigan, Dearborn Police Department, Detroit Free Press, Freedom House, Michigan Women Forward, Oakland University Global Engagement, the Wagner family, and Women Officials Network. Anna’s tireless efforts and dedication to improving the quality of life for women, families, and their communities is a shining example to those in Detroit doing similar work, making a valuable impact both locally and internationally.”

—Marian Reich, Executive Director


Pensacola, FL
Woman of Courage: Marini de Livera of Sri Lanka
Hosted by: Gulf Coast Citizen Diplomacy Council

Marini de Livera (front, center) with a group of legal professionals from the ACLU, Escambia County attorney’s office, and the Florida Department of Child Services following a meeting where the group brainstormed ways to support Livera in her work. Photo credit: Jena Melançon

Marini de Livera (right) with Youth Diplomats in Pensacola, FL. Credit: Jena Melançon


“While in Pensacola, Marini de Livera spoke at the annual women’s celebration in conjunction with the Institute of Women in Politics for Northwest Florida. It is important for the Gulf Coast Citizen Diplomacy Council to engage high school students with IVLP participants, including Ms. de Livera, who got to meet two young ladies from our Youth Diplomats program, which focuses on teens and cross-cultural engagement. She also met with students at the University of West Florida, legal professionals, and local volunteers.

Listening to the challenges Ms. de Livera faces [in fighting child abuse], it’s easy to feel overwhelmed or hopeless. But when I reflect on her engagement with our community, I am reminded of the beauty found in collaboration with like-minded individuals.”

—Jena Melançon, Executive Director


San Diego, CA
Woman of Courage: Naw K’nyaw Paw of Burma
Hosted by: San Diego Diplomacy Council

Naw and County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher discussed the current political situation in Burma and how San Diego County can improve services for its refugee communities. Left to right: Fabienne Perlov, Naw K’nyaw Paw, Nathan Fletcher, Natalie Maroun.


“We are deeply grateful for the opportunity to welcome the lovely, brave, and resilient Naw K’nyaw Paw – a true International Woman of Courage – to San Diego. This program is such a highlight for our team, and our community at large. From the visit with high school girls at The Monarch School, to a meeting with County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, to a conversation with community members, San Diegans were hungry to hear her story and learn about the people she lives and fights for.”

—Natalie Maroun, Program Director


Los Angeles, CA
Women of Courage: All
Hosted by: International Visitors Council of Los Angeles

The 2019 International Women of Courage and IVCLA Board Member Rima Nashashibi (seated, front left). Photo credit: Yael Swerdlow

The awardees pose with certificates from the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office. Photo credit:Yael Swerdlow


“IVCLA was honored to host the 2019 International Women of Courage. A luncheon in their honor on March 18 at Los Angeles City Hall provided attendees inspiration and hope. During a panel discussion, the women shared the challenges they overcame and the triumphs they have accomplished. They were presented with certificates from the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office by Ambassador Nina Hachigian, Deputy Mayor for International Affairs.

Raymond Duronslet, IVCLA intern, shared his impressions: “I was amazed to hear about their goals. Mama Maggie explained the importance of restoring dignity; Olivera Lakic spoke of the need to do work that no one else will do. Marini de Livera explained that as a pro bono lawyer, she is unable to represent every under-served child and woman who approaches her, despite her best efforts. They all sacrificed their own safety and a comfort to work for the betterment of others. It was apparent through tears of joy, laughter, and applause that they were there for each other and support one other through a common duty to humanity.”