Iraqi Woman Honored as One of Secretary of State’s 2016 International Women of Courage

The U.S. Embassy congratulates Dr. Nagham Nawzat Hasan, a recipient of the Secretary of State’s 2016 International Women of Courage Award. Dr. Hasan joined thirteen other extraordinary women from around the world who were honored by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at a ceremony yesterday in Washington, D.C.

In recognizing Dr. Hasan, Secretary Kerry remarked that,

“Nagham Nawzat Hasan has spent the last 15 years promoting equality for women and providing psychological help to victims of gender-based abuse. Nothing could have prepared her, however, for the dark days of 2014, when Daesh terrorists swept through communities in northern Iraq, taking captive the women and children of the Yezidi and other minority communities. Older women were summarily executed, killed, and they were dumped in a mass grave. Women and girls were auctioned off, sold into slavery, and forced into sham “marriages,” including girls barely into adolescence. As this horror unfolded, Nagham was among the first to respond. She provided psychological support and health screenings to girls who had escaped. She visited camps for the displaced where she often had to persuade frightened parents to allow their daughters to receive counseling and treatment. And she launched a campaign against sexual abuse called “I am Yezidi – I am against harassment.”

A Yezidi physician and activist in Iraq’s Kurdistan Region, Dr. Hasan has challenged social norms and promoted equality for women in Iraq. She has combatted gender-based violence (GBV) and provided psychological support to GBV survivors. Today, she regularly visits internally displaced persons camps with large Yezidi populations to conduct outreach and to encourage parents to allow their daughters to visit her clinic for basic health care and psychosocial support.

The Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award annually recognizes women around the globe who have demonstrated exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for peace, justice, human rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment, often at great personal risk. Since the inception of this award in 2007, the Department of State has honored nearly 100 women from 60 different countries.