Thursday, April 23, 2009
Malaysian woman received US Secretary of State's Award for International Women of Courage in the White House!!
Well, i guess not many of us knew that United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and United States First Lady, Michelle Obama presented Secretary of State's Award for International Women of Courage to Malaysia's Ambiga Sreenevasan at the State Department in Washington, DC, on March 11, 2009.
This is because the news apparently made its way to the pages of Indian Times instead, but not in Malaysia's own papers!!!!!
Ambiga Sreenevasan, has a remarkable record of accomplishment in Malaysia. She has pursued judicial reform and good governance, she has stood up for religious tolerance, and she has been a resolute advocate of women’s equality and their full political participation. She is someone who is not only working in her own country, but whose influence is felt beyond the borders of Malaysia.
The US Secretary of State's Award for International Women of Courage was introduced in 2007.
Source - Office of the US Department of State
The detail of the event is as follows :
Occasion - 2009 International Women of Courage Awards
Presented by Hillary Rodham Clinton - United States Secretary of State
In the presence of : United States First Lady - Michelle Obama
Venue - Benjamin Franklin Room, The White House, Washington DC, USA
Date - Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Speech by Hillary Rodham Clinton during the presentation :
Our final speaker, Ambiga Sreenevasan, has a remarkable record of accomplishment in Malaysia. She has pursued judicial reform and good governance, she has stood up for religious tolerance, and she has been a resolute advocate of women’s equality and their full political participation. She is someone who is not only working in her own country, but whose influence is felt beyond the borders of Malaysia. And it is a great honor to recognize her and invite her to the podium. (Applause.)
Acceptance Speech by MS. SREENEVASAN:
The First Lady Mrs. Obama, Madame Secretary Hillary Clinton, ladies and gentlemen, I am humbled to be in the company of seven extraordinary women receiving this award for courage, and I am deeply honored to now speak on their behalf and on mine.
We accept this award in all humility, remembering that we have been fortunate in being singled out from among countless courageous women in our countries who are dedicated to the cause of equality and justice.
It is also timely for us to remember all the women in other conflict-ridden territories, like Palestine and other countries, who have to show courage every single day in their struggle to survive and to keep their families together.
Each of us fights causes that promote equality and justice, and by presenting us with this award you honor those causes and all the people who work tirelessly for them with unflinching dedication.
This award will help to bring to the international stage our voices and our advocacy on these important issues. This occasion gives us an opportunity to reflect on the importance of the rule of law in promoting the rights of women around the world. When the rule of law is upheld, equality is upheld, the cause of justice is upheld, and human rights are upheld.
Today, we are witnessing a struggle for the souls of our nations, taking place between the forces of the old and the forces of change. We see our commitment to the rule of law, fundamental liberties, and the independence of our institutions being tested. The strength of our nations will depend on how well they withstand this test.
There are those who claim that democracy is a Western concept and is unsuitable elsewhere. There are yet others who perpetrate injustices behind a veneer of democracy. We say that democracy is universal, and a true democracy and the rule of law will prevail when the collective voices of the people are raised in its support.
On my part, I have for the past two years had the privilege to lead and serve the Malaysian Bar, a professional organization consisting of approximately 13,000 lawyers. History will bear testament to the fact that the Malaysian Bar has always been true to its first article of faith, to uphold the cause of justice without regard to its own interests or that of its members uninfluenced by fear or favor. In a sense, I was merely stepping into the shoes of the many other brave leaders of the bar who came before me, whereas many of the awardees today are pioneers in their struggle for justice.
This award has given us the opportunity which we would not otherwise have had, to share our stories, our successes, our failures, to reach out across our borders and to establish a base upon which we can build a meaningful network of support. These stories must be told in all our countries. By this experience, we are both enriched and enraged; enriched by what we have shared, and enraged that so many of our sisters endure intimidation and suffering in their countries. Nevertheless, ours is a message of hope that something has been achieved, despite the odds.
Martin Luther King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” This means that although we may come from different walks of life, our struggle is common. And each success is a success for all, just as each failure is a failure for all. When we unite on a human rights platform, whether domestically or internationally, above politics and political alliances, we create more enduring partnerships and relationships. When we pursue freedom and empowerment for others, we reaffirm and protect our own.
In my interaction with the other awardees present here today, it was evident that the passion we feel for our causes is driven by the love of our homelands and our people. That, in turn, drives our passion for what is right and what is just. Our people deserve nothing less. We all believe in striving for ideals that are– if I may borrow the words – self-evident; namely, the ideals of truth, justice, goodness, and universal love and understanding. Our stories are a testament to the universality of these ideals.
We are truly and deeply honored by this award, more so, when it comes from you, Madame Secretary, yourself a woman of courage, who has inspired women around the world to reach great heights. Your untiring efforts in championing women’s rights worldwide are well known. Your immortal words that, “Human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights,” resonate with all of us here.
We would also like to express our deep admiration for the First Lady Mrs. Obama, and we would also like to express our appreciation for your sharing this moment with us. Madame Secretary, on behalf of all the awardees, I thank you. And we accept the honor with humility and pride. Thank you. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. These women of courage will serve to remind us every day as we do our work in this venerable building – here we are in the Benjamin Franklin Room, and I’m about to invite you to join our reception in the Thomas Jefferson Room – that our own country has a lot to live up to. But we derive inspiration from those who are struggling so hard just to realize the basic rights that we sometimes take for granted. And it is our responsibility not only to continue to do what we must here at home to realize the dream that America represents, but to use our talents and our abilities and resources to help others as well.
It is such a great privilege to be here with all of you, to be the Secretary of State at this moment of history in an administration represented by Mrs. Obama today, led by President Obama, who means so much already to so many around the world. Now, it’s our job to realize the promise that that represents. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)