Human rights activist Karen de Souza was nominated by the US embassy here for this year’s International Women of Courage Award.
This was disclosed by US Ambassador to Guyana D. Brent Hardt in an Op-Ed piece to coincide with Thursday’s International Women’s Day. On International Women’s Day, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama hosted the 6th annual International Women of Courage Awards, honouring 10 women from around the world. These women have shown exceptional bravery and leadership in advocating for women’s rights and empowerment, often at great personal risk. The women who won were Hana El-Hebshi of Libya, Jineth Bedoya Lima of Colombia, Priscilla de Oliveira Azevedo of Brazil, Zin Mar Aung of Myanmar, Aneesa Ahmed of the Maldives, Shad Begum of Pakistan, Maryam Durani of Afghanistan, Samar Badawi of Saudi Arabia, Safak Pavey of Turkey, and Hawa Abdallah Mohammed Salih of Sudan.
Noting De Souza’s association with the NGO Red Thread, Hardt said she works to raise public awareness about domestic violence, continuously demands action from politicians, and supports women in their daily struggles against domestic violence.
“Ms. de Souza has challenged these tragic issues that affect so many women and children and has made great strides in raising national consciousness about this scourge and in challenging the all too common social acceptance of violence.
“As we rightfully honor the achievements of dedicated women such as Karen de Souza, we are also reminded that International Women’s Day is an opportunity to renew a broader call for action, investment, and commitment to women’s equality at this moment of historic opportunity”, he added.
The US Ambassador also listed the various types of help given to women’s groups here by the US and disclosed that it will be hosting a seminar shortly on strategies for successful women.
He noted that recently, the U.S. Embassy was able to attend and support Guyana’s Women and Gender Equality Commission’s forum, entitled `Access to Justice for Women.’ He said that during the forum, the U.S. Embassy witnessed how the Women and Gender Equality Commission created an “open space for women from different sectors to raise specific concerns about women’s justice.”
He added that the Women and Gender Equality Commission also recognized USAID for its continuing contributions and support to Women’s Organizations in Guyana such as the Commission. He said USAID has worked tirelessly to empower Guyana’s women’s organizations, including the Commission, Red Thread, Help and Shelter, and the Roadside Baptist Skills Training Centre, through grants, support, and education.
The Access to Justice for Women Forum, he noted, followed a gender-based violence (GBV) workshop that the U.S. Embassy PEPFAR team hosted on March 2 highlighting the link between GBV and incidence of HIV/AIDS.
USAID has also supported de Souza’s and Red Thread’s efforts through a grant that provided the NGO with a mechanism to work more directly with domestic violence victims. USAID, he pointed out, also awarded a grant to the NGO Help and Shelter, which made it possible to strengthen the skills of counsellors for victims of domestic violence.
He asserted that the U.S. Embassy will continue to reach out to support and recognize women who are making a difference. “To this end, we are planning to host a Symposium focusing on Strategies for Successful Women that will bring together women from across the social spectrum to discuss their distinctive challenges and opportunities”, the envoy disclosed.