The 2017 U.S. Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Awards were presented to 13 women at the U.S State Department on March 29.
First Lady Melania Trump, and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas A. Shannon, presented the awards to extraordinary women from across the globe.
These women have shown exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for peace, justice, human rights, gender equality, and women’s empowerment, often at great personal risk.
The First Lady mentioned in her speech, “Each one of these heroic women has an extraordinary story of courage which must inspire each of us to also achieve more than we had ever imagined possible.”
Veronica Tamar Simongun, from East Sepik province is the East Asia and Pacific awardee for the 2017 U.S. Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award.
Ms. Simongun is the founder and director for the Family for Change Association, based in Wewak, that provides support for women and children affected by violence.
Family for Change has provided support services for more than 6,000 cases, repatriating and/or safely reintegrating more than 60 survivors of domestic violence, into society.
The association also provides durable solutions in a society where there are few options for women who choose to leave abusive relationships.
Additionally, Ms. Simogun has developed a program which she presents in schools to address the root causes of family violence and promote behavior change for men and boys.
Despite the fact that Ms. Simogun finds her own safety threatened as a result of the work she does she continues to work tirelessly to help shelter and relocate victims of violence.
U.S. Ambassador Catherine Ebert-Gray said she was thrilled to honor Veronica as the 2017 nominee for the International Women of Courage Award for Papua New Guinea.
“Veronica is very deserving of the International Women of Courage Award based on her consistent actions and courageous stance on rescuing, defending and caring for women and children who are survivors of violence,” Ambassador Ebert-Gray said.
“She is a change agent for the human rights of women and children in Papua New Guinea,” she added.
The 13 awardees will travel to several cities across the United States on April 1, where they will meet and share their stories with the American people through a State Department exchange program- the International Visitor Leadership Program.
Simogun is expected to return to PNG on the 10th of April.
Watch the presentation of the 2017 U.S. Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Awards here.
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