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Kyrgyz president wins US women's award

09 march 2011, 00:29
Roza Otunbayeva. RIA Novosti photo©
Roza Otunbayeva. RIA Novosti photo©
Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbayeva on Tuesday became the first woman to receive one of 10 International Women of Courage awards given out by the U.S. State Department, AFP reports.

U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama handed the award to Otunbayeva, whom President Barack Obama and National Security Advisor Tom Donilon met on Monday to support Kyrgyzstan’s efforts to consolidate its democracy.

Otunbayeva has struggled to impose order in her country which has been wracked by political chaos and ethnic violence since the ouster of former president Kurmanbek Bakiyev in bloody street protests in April last year.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was at the annual award ceremony launched in 2007, praised Otunbayeva's efforts.

"For visionary leadership and tenacity to end conflict and to keep her country intact, and to empower all of her citizens through meaningful elections and democratic advancement, she stands not only as a great leader of her own country but as a challenge and an example for leaders everywhere," Clinton said.

Otunbayeva, a former ambassador to the United States and Britain, expressed concern for the cause of women's rights in central Asia.

"What I'm concerned with today, is that we see a lot of acheivements in the area of women's rights being eroded now and scaled back," the Kyrgyz president said.

"It breaks my heart to see young women and girls in the region not to have the same rights and opportunities that we, their mothers, had," she said.

The other recipients of the 2011 award are Maria Bashir, the prosecutor general in Afghanistan's Herat Province and Nasta Palazhanka, the deputy chair of the Malady Front (Young Front) non-governmental organization in Belarus.

They also include Henriette Ekwe Ebongo, journalist and publisher of Bebela in Cameroon, and Guo Jianmei, lawyer and director of the Beijing Zhongze Women’s Legal Counseling and Service Center in China.

The sixth and seventh recipients are Yoani Sanchez, founder of Generacion Y blog in Cuba, and Agnes Osztolykan, member of parliament from the Politics Can Be Different Party in Hungary.

The eighth and ninth recipients are Eva Abu Halaweh, executive director of Mizan Law Group for Human Rights in Jordan, and Marisela Morales Ibanez, deputy attorney general for Special Investigations against Organized Crime in Mexico.

The last recipient is Ghulam Sughra, founder and chief executive officer for the Marvi Rural Development Organization in Pakistan.

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