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IRI Celebrates the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Award Honorees

September 27, 2021

Washington D.C. – The International Republican Institute’s Women’s Democracy Network held its annual Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Award ceremony honoring those who have made outstanding contributions to the advancement of women in politics and civil society. Receiving this year’s award were Veronika Tsepkalo and Anastasia Kostugova in honor of the women of Belarus for the establishment and leadership of the 'Women in White' protest movement and serving as role models for women around the world.

Prior to, during and in the aftermath of the fraudulent 2020 Presidential Election in Belarus, Veronika Tsepkalo chaired Valery Tsepkalo’s opposition presidential campaign and developed a strong following of her own. Currently, she is widely seen as one of the three women leaders of Belarus Opposition, together with President-Elect Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya and activist Maria Kolesnikova. Mrs. Tsepkalo has been nominated for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.

In August 2020, Anastasia Kostugova refused to stand by and watch state violence rage against peaceful protesters. The 'Women in White' movement was born out of her desire for a different discourse by organizing a group chat among a few friends. But with more women seeking solidarity with the democratic movement, the chat grew to become the largest Belarusian women’s rights-focused Telegram channel, becoming the central hub for numerous street rallies and massive Saturday marches. 

The Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Award recognizes honorees for their commitment to increase women’s political and civic participation within their own communities and on behalf of women worldwide.  A long-time board member of IRI and the first woman to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Dr. Kirkpatrick was a strong advocate for women’s participation in politics.