Women rights activist and filmmaker Roya Sadat received the U.S. State Department’s International Women of Courage Award. First Lady Melania Trump presented the award to Sadat in Washington D.C. on Friday night.
Sadat is one of ten women to be recognized by the U.S. State Department for exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for peace, justice, human rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment, often at great personal risk.
Sadat is known as the first Afghan female director. She began making films in secrecy during the Taliban regime in her home. She is now the founder of the Roya Film House and co-founder of the Afghanistan International Women’s Film Festival.
By using cinema and television as a platform for advocacy, Sadat tells the untold stories of Afghan women. Her latest film Letter to the President portrayed the injustices a woman faces after being imprisoned. Afghanistan selected the film as its entry for the best foreign film category for the 2018 Oscars.
“We have many women of courage in Afghanistan. I am a symbol of them and one of them,” said Sadat during the Overcoming Violence: A Conversation with Women of Courage panel discussion at the United States Institute for Peace on Thursday.
While presenting the awards, First Lady Trump said the recipients of the International Women of Courage Awards “define what it means to be a role model.”
Sadat will travel across the United States in a two week International Visitor Leadership Program.
The U.S. State Department has recognized more than 120 women from around the world since the inception of the awards in 2007. The finalists for the Women of Courage Awards is selected by senior State Department officials.