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Dhaka Tribune

Rohingya lawyer Razia Sultana wins Int’l Women of Courage Award

Nine other women from around the world will also be given the honour

Update : 06 Mar 2019, 11:46 AM

A Myanmar-born Bangladesh citizen Razia Sultana, who practices law advocating for the Rohingyas, has been named as one of the 10 winners of International Women of Courage (IWOC) Award 2019.

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will host the Annual IWOC Awards at the State Department on Thursday, to honor 10 extraordinary women from around the world.

First Lady of the US Melania Trump will deliver special remarks at the ceremony.

According to the US State Department, Razia was born in 1973 in Maungdaw, Myanmar, to ethnic Rohingya parents, and has devoted her career to advancing human rights for her own community.

The State Department identified her as a citizen of Bangladesh.

Razia has spent most of her life as a lawyer, teacher and human rights advocate, and has been working directly with the Rohingyas – particularly women and girls – since 2014.

She practices law advocating for the Rohingyas and conducts research and educational programs, specializing in trauma, mass rape, and the trafficking of Rohingya women and girls.

Since 2016, she has interviewed hundreds of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and published two reports – “Witness to Horror” and “Rape by Command” – documenting systematic sexual violence by Burmese security forces against the Rohingya.

She contributed to “The Killing Fields of Alethankyaw,” a recent report by the Kaladan Press.

Beyond being a lawyer and an educator, Razia is also a coordinator of the Free Rohingya Coalition (FRC) and a director of the Arakan Rohingya National Organization’s (ARNO) women’s section. While she has always identified as a Rohingya, as a human rights activist Razia believes in rights and justice for all in Myanmar, as a means to bring peace.

Since 2007, the US Secretary of State’s IWOC Award has recognized women around the globe who have demonstrated exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for peace, justice, human rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment, often at great personal risk and sacrifice.

Since the inception, the US State Department has recognized more than 120 women from more than 65 different countries. 

US diplomatic missions overseas nominate one woman of courage from their respective host countries. The finalists are selected and approved by senior State Department officials.

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