Colorado Springs, CO, March 6, 2020 – Colorado Springs World Affairs Councilwill host a recipient of the U.S. Secretary of State's International Women of Courage (IWOC) Award on March March 10-14 as part of a two-week exchange program. The IWOC Award annually recognizes women from around the world who have demonstrated exceptional courage, strength and leadership in acting to improve others' lives. As part of the U.S. Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program, the awardees visit U.S. universities, businesses, and nonprofit organizations to share strategies and ideas to empower women around the globe.
Colorado Springs World Affairs Councilis hostingAmaya Coppens of Nicaragua. Coppens is one of the leaders of the 19th of April Student Movement in Nicaragua. She participated in numerous protests against the Sandinista government and the violent, repressive tactics deployed by its security forces. In September 2018, she was abducted by Nicaraguan police from her residence after participating in a peaceful protest. She was released in June and continued to speak out against the regime in Nicaragua. She had the opportunity to repatriate to Belgium during her first captivity, but refused. On November 14, Coppens was imprisoned again when she and 12 other activists attempted to bring water to mothers of political prisoners on hunger strike. She and other political prisoners were released by the regime on December 30, 2019.
Coppens will meet with several organizations in Colorado Springs to speak about her experience, including students at UCCS and a panel of elected leaders. Coppens story in is in furtherance of IWOC's goal to explain how work of these courageous women directly impacts and promotes U.S. national security.
The 2020 IWOC recipients received their awards at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. on March 4 and are now headed to cities across the United States as part of the IVLP. The program concludes in Los Angeles, California on March 17.
"Since the inception of the International Women of Courage Award in 2007, the State Department's International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) has hosted awardees in 36 communities across 23 states in the United States," said Marie Royce, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. "During their exchange program, the International Women of Courage awardees will meet and share ideas with Americans, creating new relationships and lasting bonds critical to U.S. foreign policy. I know that their stories and life experiences will engage, inspire, and empower the Americans they meet."
For the past 80 years, the IVLP has connected current and emerging leaders from around the world to the United States through short-term exchanges. The program has grown to include over 225,000 alumni, including more than 500 current and former heads of state, and continues to build vital linkages between U.S. citizens and emerging leaders throughout the world. The IVLP continues to play a critical role in U.S. foreign policy and provides an opportunity for the next generation of leaders to gain firsthand experience in the United States.