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U.S. Diplomatic Mission confers “Woman of Courage” award to Ms. Priscilla Ikos Usiobaifo

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The United States Diplomatic Mission in Nigeria, dedicated to advancing women’s rights, named Ms. Priscilla Ikos
Usiobaifo, the Executive Director of Braveheart Initiative for Youth and Women (BHI), as its 2024 Woman of Courage.

The March 27 award ceremony in Abuja recognized Ms. Usiobaifo’s two decades of unwavering contribution to reforming laws and dismantling socio-cultural norms perpetuating gender-based violence in Nigeria. In his remarks at the award ceremony, Art Brown, Acting Deputy Chief of Mission, said preventing and responding to all forms of gender-based violence is a cornerstone of the United States government’s commitment to promoting democracy and advancing human rights, as it works with Nigerian partners to dismantle the barriers and impediments to gender equality.

“This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is ‘Invest in women: accelerate progress.’ I’m proud of the United States government’s longstanding investment in women. Together with the government of Nigeria and our local partners, we’ve made significant investments in the lives of Nigerian women and girls, particularly in health, enterprise, and ending all forms of gender-based violence.”

The U.S. Embassy conferred the award as part of activities celebrating the 2024 Women History Month, in keeping with the U.S. government’s commitment to recognize and celebrate individuals who are advancing gender equality and equity. “This year’s International Women’s Day theme calls on all stakeholders to prioritize women and girls. Ending all forms of gender-based violence requires a whole-of-society approach to address the deep-seated socio-cultural norms underlying gender-based violence in Nigeria. Today, we’re delighted to celebrate and amplify the work of a woman who is a fierce advocate for women’s rights,” said Brown.

Awardee Priscilla Ikos Usiobaifo, in her acceptance speech, thanked the U.S. Mission for spotlighting her work and pledged to do more for women and girls: “Young women, especially those who work in rural communities, can be unrecognized because of the locality of the work that we do. But here I am today as a testament that no matter where you are and where you do your work, your work speaks, and it speaks very loudly. I want to see this as a spur to do more for women for girls, for children in marginalized communities in Nigeria. I hope that an award like this will inspire government to become more accountable to their citizens and to promote justice for survivors of gender-based violence in Nigeria.

Senator Ireti Kingibe, Senate Committee Chairperson on Women Affairs, commended the U.S. Embassy for the recognition, adding that it would motivate other young women to continue to do their best.

FCT Mandate Secretary for Women Affairs, Mrs. Dayo Benjamin-Laniyi, congratulated Ms. Usiobaifo for her courage and reiterated the commitment of the Federal Capital Territory to end gender-based violence.

The Woman of Courage award recognizes women who have taken unusual risks, surmounted significant obstacles, challenged harmful practices, and/or fought discrimination or disinformation in their efforts to defend and promote progress in their societies.

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