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First Lady Melania Trump talks about ‘the strength of the female spirit’

(Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

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With little media fanfare, ever graceful first lady Melania Trump recognized women around the world for their extraordinary accomplishments at the 2020 International Women of Courage Awards.

The event, hosted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the State Department, took place on Wednesday and featured 12 women being honored.

“Now in its 14th year, the Secretary of State’s IWOC Award recognizes 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,” the State Department said in a statement. “Since the inception of this award in March 2007, the Department of State has recognized 134 women from 73 countries.”

It was the fourth year Mrs. Trump was on hand, and she told those gathered that she was “inspired” by the women’s stories, Fox News reported.

“It is an honor to be here again to celebrate these inspiring women and the incredible impacts they are making through the work they’ve dedicated themselves to all over the world,” Trump said. “In my fourth year attending this ceremony, I continue to be inspired by the personal stories that accompany each of these extraordinary women. Some demonstrate raw courage in the face of terror.”

“As first lady of the United States, I’m proud of what this country continues to do for women,” she continued. “I’m honored to represent a nation that not only recognizes women around the world who are making a difference internationally but empowers and supports them in their endeavors so they can affect positive change for others.”

(Photo credit Michael Brochstein / Echoes WIre/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

The first lady spoke positively about the “strength of the female spirit.”

“These women represent the strength of the female spirit,” Trump said. “Each of them have demonstrated acts of courage and leadership, often at risk to their own personal safety.”

More from Fox News on the women honored:

2020 award winners came from Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China, Malaysia, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen and Zimbabwe. They have faced everything from death threats to lawsuits to social media harassment while taking on their leadership positions and attempting to make positive change.

 

One of the women recognized, Zarifa Ghafari, a 26-year-old mayor of a conservative Afghanistan town, thanked the United States for being the global leader in the fight for women’s rights.

“It was not so long ago that most women were considered property and sadly, in some parts of the world, it’s still the same,” Ghafari said in her speech Wednesday at the event. “Throughout the modern area, there has been one global leader in the fight for women’s rights, and that’s the United States of America. To the American people, to the American government, let me say: Thank you. Thank you for all you have done to improve conditions for women all around the world.”

“When I started my job, the men at the municipal office refused to acknowledge me and my authority. A mob came and chased me away. They thought that was the end of that. But I came back. I came back and stood my ground,” she said.

“Women of my generation have not forgotten the reign of the Taliban and we are as always worried for the future,” she added. “Whatever we women of the world have achieved, we must not take it for granted. It can be taken back from if we are not diligent and strong.”

The first lady had a busy week, as she was also on hand at the Department of Justice National Opioid Summit on Friday with Attorney General William Barr.

(Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)

Mrs. Trump also had a message Saturday for all the critics who trash her every move.

She tweeted: “I encourage everyone who chooses to be negative & question my work at the @WhiteHouse to take time and contribute something good & productive in their own communities. #BeBest.”

Tom Tillison

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