AWIU President Jane Mursener Wetzel took the podium to present the 2012 Internationalism Award to Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards (D-Maryland) and Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Washington) for bipartisan work as chairwomen of U.S. Congress’ Women’s Task Force on Afghanistan. The importance of women in the global arena was underscored by the acceptance speeches of the recipients.
Ms. Schweitzer returned to the podium to invite the Women of Courage to the stage and to introduce the Honorable Melanne Verveer, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues for the United States. In the highlight of the evening, Ambassador Verveer introduced each of the 2012 Women of Courage and gave a brief description of the work for which they were being honored.
The 2012 International Women of Courage are: Afghanistan, Maryam Durani; Brazil, Major Pricilla de Oliveira Azevedo; Burma, Zin Mar Aung; Colombia, Jineth Bedoya Lima; Libya, Han Elhebshi, Maldives, Anessa Ahmed; Pakistan, Shad Begum; Saudi Arabia, Samar Badawi; Sudan, Hawa Abdullah Mohammed Salih; and from Turkey, the Honorable Safak Pavey. Ms. Aneesa Ahmed, Woman of Courage from the Maldives, was selected to speak on behalf of the awardees. Ms. Ahmed thanked AWIU for its support and for the warm and intimate reception.
To honor the Women of Courage and their substantial contributions to the rights of women, the Women of MUSE/IQUE, lead by renowned Maestra Rachael Worby, performed a stirring program of American music. AWIU’s Women of Courage signature song, “What You Take Away,” was performed by award winning composer, Tim Acito, and Broadway vocalist, Laurie Wells.
The Bernice Behrens Founder’s Award is presented to an AWIU member who makes an extraordinary contribution in the arena of women’s issues and AWIU’s mission. The 2012 recipient was Mary Ripley, who is 97 years young, and a friend of AWIU founder Bernice Behrens. Mary traveled from her home in Portola Valley, California with her son, William, daughter-in-law Erin and granddaughter Jessica. Mary talked about her work with AWIU and passed the torch on to her granddaughter, who is among the group of dynamic young women joining AWIU.