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BELA's Rezwana among State Dept's Int’l Women of Courage '22

Human rights 2022-03-09, 11:26am


Rezwana Hasan of BELA

Dhaka, Mar 8 - Rezwana Hasan, a lawyer who demonstrates "exceptional courage and leadership" in her mission to protect the environment and defend the dignity and rights of marginalised Bangladeshis, has been named as one of the recipients of the International Women of Courage (IWOC) Award this year.

US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken will host the annual event on March 14 at the U.S. Department of State.

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

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

Now in its 16th year, the Secretary of State’s IWOC Award recognises 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 recognised more than 170 women from over 80 countries with the IWOC Award.  

U.S. 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.  

Crusader in Court

Through landmark legal cases over the past 20 years, Rizwana Hasan has changed the dynamic of development in Bangladesh to include a people-centered focus on environmental justice, said the US Department of State on Tuesday.  

In her capacity as Chief Executive of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association, she has argued and won monumental cases against deforestation, pollution, unregulated ship breaking, and illegal land development.  

In 2009, Hasan 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.- UNB