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Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Clinton Honors Journalists, Peace Builders in Annual Clinton Awards

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton recognized women’s role in peacekeeping and journalism at the annual Hillary Rodham Clinton Awards in Georgetown University’s Gaston Hall.

“Women are agents of change, and women’s stories are powerful reminders of what is possible,” Clinton said at the Oct. 5 event.

The event, themed “Voices for Peace” and hosted by the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security (GIWPS) honored four women journalists and peace builders, including Christiane Amanpour, the host of CNN International’s “Amanpour”; Alaa Salah, a Sudanese activist for democracy and human rights; and Muna Luqman, the founder and executive director of Food4Humanity, one of Yemen’s first female-led Civil Society Organization nonprofits, and co-founder of the Women’s Solidarity Network, a female-led nonprofit aimed at addressing women’s issues. 

Clinton said ongoing global events from climate change to the rise of authoritarianism make highlighting women’s stories particularly important.

“There are some incredibly powerful forces at work around the world. Some of them like climate change, which we are seeing unfold in real time before our eyes, some like unimaginable technical advantages like artificial intelligence, whose pluses and minuses we have no real understanding of yet, to changes in the geopolitical environment, the return to great power competition,” Clinton said.

Maren Fagan | Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton honored four women journalists and peacebuilders, Oct. 5.

“These forces impact every one of us, but they do disproportionately impact women,” Clinton added.

Clinton framed the awards as an opportunity to push back against global repression of women and girls by spotlighting female changemakers.

“Many leaders use women as a reason for pulling back on rights, use women’s lives and aspirations as a challenge, rather than an opportunity, to existing power structures,” Clinton said. “We are trying to tell a different story, a different narrative, by not only standing up for democracy, human rights and progress, but highlighting women who are doing it in their lives every single day.” 

Clinton recognized the first honoree, Amanpour, for her role in covering international issues ranging from the Bosnian War in Sarajevo to interviewing leaders of the Arab Spring.

“Protecting and promoting a free press is critical to all of us, to our democracy, our sense of security, our freedom,” Clinton said. “It’s imperative that we have women’s perspectives in journalism, just as we must have in national security and diplomacy.”

While introducing Amanpour to the stage, Melanne Verveer, the executive director of GIWPS and the former U.S. ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues, said Amanpour’s presence in war zones created her reputation as an international journalist. 

“One of the most prominent reporters in the world, she is known especially for her courageous coverage,” Verveer said at the event. “It is often said, ‘Where there’s war, there’s Amanpour.’”

During a discussion between Clinton and the awardees, Amanpour said her experiences reporting on human rights violations in Bosnia during the 1990s taught her that reporting on war and international events requires honesty rather than impartiality.

“Be truthful, not neutral,” Amanpour said. “I had to figure out what story I was telling, and that was the story of an aggressor and a victim, and it was very clear. There was no ‘both siderism,’ there was no on the one hand, on the other hand.”

Clinton said she first heard about awardee Salah when a picture and video of her leading chants in Sudan against the dictatorial government gained international attention. 

“I was so incredibly moved by what you were doing,” Clinton said, speaking to the audience. “I was also worried and afraid for you, but I was so happy you were there and standing up for the rights of all of your fellow citizens, particularly women and girls.” 

Verveer, while citing Salah’s award, said Salah became the symbolic “Lady Liberty of the Sudanese Revolution.”

When introducing Luqman to the stage, Clinton said she saw Luqman’s work at a conference that began shortly after the war in Ukraine. 

Clinton said she was impressed by Luqman’s work in Yemen to advocate for women’s voices in peacekeeping on a global scale while addressing global scarcities, such as water and food. 

“I know that when you’re on the ground doing that work, and you are not only a voice for Yemeni women and peace, but you are a worldwide advocate for peace,” Clinton said.

During the discussion, Luqman said the greatest challenges in Yemen are the lack of aid, availability of goods and the lack of protection for peacekeepers in the country. 

“I think one of the many challenges as peace builders I’ve had, and also my colleagues, is the protection of human rights defenders and people who are trying to bring the real narrative,” Luqman said. 

Ghalia Alrahhal, a human rights activist and founder of the Mazaya Organization, a network of eight women’s centers and five child care centers in Syria, was the final honoree.

Clinton virtually honored Alrahhal — who transformed her hair salon in Syria into a women’s center where women could discuss politics and their futures — for her contributions to peacekeeping in Syria. 

“She is someone who, in defiance of personal threats and attacks, including the assassination of her son, a journalist, has been working to energize the Syrian women’s movement,” Clinton said. 

During the discussion, Clinton said that the biggest challenge peace builders face remains war. 

“I think the biggest challenge is men starting wars,” Clinton said. “When men fight for a long time. It’s what they know how to do.”

Clinton said that the work to create a peaceful world includes everyone. 

“What is it we need to do to protect democracy here at home? What is it we need to do to make sure women’s voices are heard?” Clinton said. “Let’s recommit ourselves to do everything we can right here in the United States to make sure we never lose our freedoms, our democracy, our rights and our opportunities.” 

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