Washington, DC – The International Republican Institute’s (IRI) Women’s Democracy Network (WDN) honored the women of Afghanistan and Iran with its annual Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Award for their outstanding contributions to the advancement of women in politics and civil society while facing oppressive governments in Kabul and Tehran. Receiving this year’s award were former Ambassador to the U.N. Adela Raz and Naheed Farid on behalf of Afghan women and Mariam Memarsedeghi and Lily Pourzand on behalf of Iranian women.
Valerie Dowling, Director of WDN at IRI welcomed everyone to the event and noted the importance of women’s participation in politics before IRI Vice President for External Affairs Antonia Ferrier recognized the impact of former IRI Board Member and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Jeane J. Kirkpatrick.
Citing Ambassador Kirkpatrick as “strong, brave, and smart,” Ferrier stated, “I know that Jeane Kirkpatrick would very much approve of giving this award to the women of Afghanistan and Iran…You are braver than we’ll ever know.”
Continuing the program, IRI Board Member Tami Longaberger remembered her late friend, former Executive Vice President of IRI and founder of WDN, Judy Van Rest. “Judy made the world a better place,” said Longaberger. “She lit the torch of WDN…She brought this light to many women around the world.”
After Longaberger, a panel with this year’s honorees was moderated by former Acting Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Heather Nauert to discuss the personal and political oppression that confronts women every day in Afghanistan and Iran. IRI President Daniel Twining closed the event by presenting the award to the recipients and thanking the women of Afghanistan and Iran for leading the fight for a democratic future in their respective countries. “IRI will continue to invest in women as we work to build robust and resilient democracies that ensure the equal protection of all citizens,” said Twining.Top