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Secretary Blinken, First Lady, grant International Woman of Courage Award to Moroccan Rabha El Haymar

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Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and First Lady Jill Biden hosted the 18th International Woman of Courage (IWOC) Awards ceremony at the White House, recognizing 12 outstanding women from all over the globe.

Since 2007, the Secretary of State’s IWOC Award has recognized more than 190 women from over 90 countries, 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.

In Morocco, the 2024 IWOC Awardee is Rabha El Haymar, a courageous Moroccan woman who successfully navigated the legal system and fought to obtain, through a recourse provided by Morocco’s Family Code reform of 2004, recognition of her traditional marriage to spare her daughter a life of marginalization as an undocumented child.

Rabha’s story became more than a personal triumph when she crossed paths with British film-maker Deborah Perkin and agreed for her story to be told in a documentary entitled Bastards. Shown on Moroccan national television and film festivals around the world, Bastards raises awareness about the plight of mothers of undocumented children, and the Moroccan family laws allowing women like Rabha to seek justice.

Commenting on the award, Ambassador Puneet Talwar stated: “Rabha is an amazing, determined, and courageous woman. Her award is well-deserved. She is an inspiration to so many as Morocco, under His Majesty King Mohammed VI’s leadership, achieves more justice and equality for Moroccans, including women and children.”

At the White House, after receiving the Award from the hands of First Lady Jill Biden and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Rabha El Haymar declared to the press: “I am honored to be recognized by the United States, among formidable women from different walks of life that I had the chance to meet here, in Washington. As we shared our stories and learned from our experiences, we found out that the common thread in our respective endeavors is indeed courage, coupled with resilience.”

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