Remarks by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield at the U.S. Department of State’s 17th Annual International Women of Courage Awards Ceremony

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
Washington, D.C.
March 8, 2023


Hello, everyone. It really is a privilege to present this new award – one that honors our first female Secretary of State, the late Madeleine Albright.

Secretary Albright showed so many women, including myself, how to lead with moral clarity and with courage. Her legacy lives on in those still fighting for gender-equality and universal human rights. It is fitting that this award recognizes not just one woman, but the bravery, the fortitude, and collaboration of a whole movement. It speaks to the outsized impact of Secretary Albright’s example and life of service.

When the Albright family – who is here with us today – learned about this award, they asked that another trailblazing leader – one who knew Secretary Albright well – be a part of this ceremony: Secretary Condoleezza Rice.

Secretary Rice created the International Women of Courage Award in 2007, and though she couldn’t join us today, she wanted to take part in this very special ceremony.

[Prerecorded remarks by Secretary Condoleezza Rice.]


And I wish they could be here to hear your applause.

I’m proud to present the Madeleine K. Albright Honorary Group International Women of Courage Award. This inaugural award goes to women and girls in Iran, who – in the wake of the brutal killing of Mahsa Amini – have inspired us all.

All Mahsa wanted was to live a normal and happy life. She dreamed of starting a family after finishing her studies. But these hopes and dreams were crushed – they were crushed by the tyranny of Iran’s so-called “Morality Police.” The Iranian government probably thought this would just be another footnote in the long record of violence and discrimination against women. But this time, this time it was different.

The Iranian people – led by women – took to the streets in peaceful protest. They followed in the footsteps of brave women before them, who sacrificed so much in the name of freedom. Through neighborhoods and classrooms, out of apartment buildings and car windows, the protestors’ chanted throughout Iran and around the world, creating a global chorus demanding gender-equality and human rights.

But for all the hope this movement represents, we must never forget how the Iranian regime has responded: They have tortured peaceful protestors. They have arrested tens of thousands of people. They have badly injured and killed Iranians in bloody crackdowns. The international community must continue to condemn the regime’s repression and violence, and we must back up our words with action.

That’s why the United States led a successful effort to remove Iran from the UN Commission on the Status of Women, and it’s why we are working to hold those complicit in these abuses accountable.

To all the women and girls across Iran, know this: We will continue to stand with you in your fight for women, for life, and for freedom. So, everyone, please join me in recognizing the courageous women and girls in Iran. [Applause.]

I now have the honor of introducing another courageous woman who has been an unwavering champion for vulnerable populations in Malaysia.

When a car accident and a brutal assault paralyzed Senator Ras Adiba Radzi from the waist down, she dedicated her life to advocacy. To raise awareness, Malaysians across the country saw her on TV, in Parliament, and at the Paralympics. They heard her commentary. They heard her poetry. They heard her fierce call for justice.

In May 2020, she became Malaysia’s representative for people with disabilities. And later that year, she was appointed the first female chair of the Malaysian National News Agency.

Senator Ras Adiba Radzi embodies – she embodies what it means to live a life in service to others. Please join me in welcoming her to the podium. [Applause.]