Equality for Women is Progress for All

International Women’s Day is celebrated in around the world each year on March 8.  This year the United Nations theme for International Women’s Day is “Equality for Women is Progress for All.”  In that vein, we thought it would be great to highlight the work that women are doing around the world in their struggle for equality for all people.  Each year the Department of State honors Women of Courage, and one of this year’s recipients is a young woman from Fiji who is focused on increasing participation of her fellow Fijians in the political process.  You can read the remarkable stories about the honorees this year, and look back at previous year’s winners.

With Roshika Deo are First Lady Michelle Obama and Deputy Secretary of State Heather Higginbottom.

With Roshika Deo are First Lady Michelle Obama and Deputy Secretary of State Heather Higginbottom.

The 2014 International Women of Courage Award Winners.

First Lady Michelle Obama with the 2014 International Women of Courage Award Winners.

When honoring the nominees in Washington, DC, Heather Higginbottom, Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources summarized the work that Roshika has done.

“Roshika Deo was born and raised to make a difference. When she was a little girl, her father used to take her to the squatter settlements to raise awareness of inequality and the importance of giving back. As an adult, she has been a vocal advocate for Fiji’s return to democracy and especially for the participation of women and young people in the democratization process. She was one of the very first candidates in the country to announce her intention to stand in Fiji’s 2014 elections, the first since a military coup in 2006.

Transcript here.

Despite intense criticism, constant threats of rape and violence, and financial difficulties, Roshika and her Be the Change political campaign are inspiring a new generation of Fijian women and youth to believe in democracy and the power of civic participation. Roshika has also been one of Fiji’s most outspoken critics of violence and discrimination against women and girls, and has publicly stood up for greater government accountability. And in her bold efforts to expand political participation among all Fijians, Roshika has refused to be silenced or intimidated. For her advocacy, for political reform in the name of democracy and human rights, and a country free of violence against women, we name Roshika Deo a Woman of Courage.”