Thursday, March 5, 2015

GlobalPittsburgh Coordinates Local Visit of U.S. State Department’s 2015 International Women of Courage Awardee from Bangladesh

GlobalPittsburgh designed and arranged the local visit of 2015 International Women of Courage awardee Nadia Sharmeen, a journalist from Bangladesh, whose meetings in Pittsburgh focused on how good journalism can protect the rights of women and girls.

Nadia Sharmeen meets
Sally Wiggin at
During her time in Pittsburgh from March 7-11, Ms. Sharmeen was welcomed by Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, and met with representatives of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, WTAE-TV, the Duquesne University School of Law, and the FISA Foundation, among others.

The U.S. 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.


This year’s 10 recipients, who are scheduled to receive their awards from First Lady Michelle Obama and Deputy Secretary of State Heather Higginbottom in Washington, D.C., last week, reflect women’s roles as agents of change and leaders in many of the crises and challenges facing the world today, from countering violent extremism to promoting security and recovery from the Ebola Virus Disease. Since the inception of the award in 2007, the Department of State has honored 86 women from more than 50 different countries.

GlobalPittsburgh has hosted women participating in the program for the past four years, according to Gail Shrott, Director of GlobalPittsburgh’s International Leaders Program.

“We are proud and honored to have another opportunity to host a participant in the International Women of Courage project,” Ms. Shrott said.  “The past recipients of this award with whom we have worked have been inspirational and have been excellent models of leadership and accomplishment in the face of adversity for women and girls in our region.”

About Nadia Sharmeen
Nadia Sharmeen is a dedicated journalist and staunch women’s rights advocate. Having set her sights on becoming a journalist in middle school, she joined the Bangladesh press corps in 2009, working as a crime reporter.

In April 2013, while assigned to cover a massive rally organized by a coalition of fundamentalist organizations whose platform included a call for revoking Bangladesh’s women’s development policy, Ms. Sharmeen fearlessly went to work despite the strong possibility of facing a hostile crowd.

As verbal harassment escalated and the crowd grew aggressive, a group of 50 to 60 men repeatedly beat, kicked, and threw her to the ground – causing her serious injury. Ms. Sharmeen’s employer denied sending her on the assignment, refused to cover her medical expenses, and eventually forced her to resign. Although local police filed a case against 60 unnamed rally attendees, now – nearly two years later – none of her assailants have been identified or arrested.

Today, Ms. Sharmeen works for another TV station and has enthusiastically resumed work as a crime reporter, challenging the social forces that oppose any changes to prevailing gender norms.

About GlobalPittsburgh
Founded in 1959 as the Pittsburgh Council for International Visitors (PCIV), GlobalPittsburgh boosts international connections in the Pittsburgh Region and around the world through three main programs:

  • Coordinating activities and events for globally-minded members.
  • Hosting delegations of international leaders for the U.S State Department and other agencies.
  • Attracting international students to the region through its Study Pittsburgh initiative.

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