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Environmentalist Rizwana to receive US Int’l Women of Courage award

The US government has decided to recognise noted environmentalist Syeda Rizwana Hasan, who demonstrates “exceptional courage and leadership” in her mission to protect the environment and defend the dignity and rights of marginalised Bangladeshis, with the International Women of Courage (IWOC) Award 2022.

Rizwana is the Chief Executive of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA).

US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken will host the annual International Women of Courage (IWOC) Awards in a virtual ceremony at the U.S. Department of State on Monday (March 14), said a media note of the US Department of State.

The 2022 IWOC Award ceremony will honor a group of twelve extraordinary women from around the world who are working to build a brighter future for all.

The 2022 awardees are: Rizwana Hasan–Bangladesh, Simone Sibilio do Nascimento–Brazil, Ei Thinzar Maung–Myanmar, Josefina Klinger Zúñiga–Colombia, Taif Sami Mohammed–Iraq, Facia Boyenoh Harris–Liberia, Najla Mangoush–Libya, Doina Gherman–Moldova, Bhumika Shrestha–Nepal, Carmen Gheorghe–Romania, Roegchanda Pascoe–South Africa and PhạmĐoan Trang–Vietnam.

The First Lady of the United States, Dr. Jill Biden, will deliver remarks in recognition of the courageous accomplishments of this year’s IWOC awardees.

Out of an abundance of caution due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and in order to practice safe social distancing, the ceremony will be pooled press coverage only and will be live streamed on www.state.gov.

According to the State Department citation, Rizwana Hasan is a lawyer who demonstrates exceptional courage and leadership in her mission to protect the environment and defend the dignity and rights of marginalized Bangladeshis.

Through landmark legal cases over the past 20 years, Hasan has changed the dynamic of development in Bangladesh to include a people-centered focus on environmental justice.  In her capacity as Chief Executive of the public interest law firm Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association, she has argued and won monumental cases against deforestation, pollution, unregulated ship breaking, and illegal land development.

In 2009, Rizwana was named as one of 40 Environmental Heroes of the World by TIME magazine and was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2012 for her activism.

In the years since, she has continued her crucial work in the courtroom to combat environmental degradation and the local effects of climate change, despite significant resistance from powerful interests and threats of violence to herself and her family.

Now in its 16th year, the Secretary of State’s IWOC Award recognizes women from around the globe who have demonstrated exceptional courage, strength, and leadership in advocating for peace, justice, human rights, gender equity and equality, and the empowerment of women and girls, in all their diversity – often at great personal risk and sacrifice.

Since March 2007, the Department of State has recognized more than 170 women from over 80 countries with the IWOC Award.  US diplomatic missions overseas nominate one woman of courage from their respective host countries and finalists are selected and approved by senior Department officials.

Following the virtual IWOC ceremony, the awardees will participate in an International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) Virtual exchange to connect with their American counterparts and strengthen the global network of women leaders.