Ugandan Activist Agather Atuhaire Wins U.S.’ Women Of Courage Award

Atuhaire is among the activists who are currently leading the online campaign exposing corruption in Parliament

Prominent Ugandan activist, Agather Atuhaire is set to receive the United States Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award.

Established in 2007, this annual award honours women from around the world who have demonstrated exceptional courage, strength, and leadership in order to bring about positive change to their communities, often at great personal risk and sacrifice.

“Agather Atuhaire is a renowned journalist, lawyer and social justice activist who advocates for human rights, public accountability, and the rule of law in Uganda,” said the U.S. State department in a statement.

“Her work as a journalist has brought to light parliamentary abuse of process and excess, threats to multi-party democracy and governance, health sector abuses, sexual harassment in the NGO sector, and violations of students’ rights,” the statement added.

Atuhaire is among the activists who are currently leading the online campaign exposing corruption in Parliament.

She recently published documents which showed that the Leader of Opposition in Parliament Mathias Mpuuga secretly worked with Parliament leaders to award himself Shs 500m as a ‘service award.’

Mpuuga’s party, National Unity Platform (NUP), has since asked Mpuuga to resign his position as Commissioner of Parliament in the wake of the scandal.

Atuhaire also exposed the Speaker of Parliament Anita Among for receiving billions of shillings in per diem for foreign trips which she did not undertake.

“Courage means doing what has to be done regardless of the circumstances,” said Atuhaire.

“It means putting the lives and livelihoods of people with no voice, the future of our children, and the progression of our societies above fear,” she added.

The U.S. government said Atuhaire’s work has garnered her a reputation as a trusted voice on matters of governance, accountability, and social justice in Uganda.

“Her dedication to alleviating suffering for others – sometime at great personal risk – has brought change to Ugandan institutions such as Parliament, National Water Corporation, Kampala Capital City Authority, Ministry of Health, and the Law Development Center to name a few,” said the U.S. State Department.

“As team leader at AGORA – a platform to foster public discourse, social justice, public accountability – her team continues to hold leaders accountable through evidence-based activism, reporting, and civic awareness.”

Also recognised by the U.S. government is Rabha El Haymar – a courageous Moroccan woman who successfully navigated her country’s legal system and fought to obtain, through a recourse provided by Morocco’s family code reform of 2004, recognition of her traditional marriage to spare her daughter a life of marginalisation and discrimination as an undocumented child.

The U.S. government also honoured Iranian activist Fariba Balouch who continues to advocate for Iranian women’s rights and to draw attention to the Iranian regime’s gender-, ethnicity-, and sect-based discrimination among others.

Each year, the IWOC awardees are invited to Washington, DC to receive their awards from the Secretary of State and the First Lady of the United States in a high-level ceremony held on or in proximity to International Women’s Day (March 8th).

The IWOC awardees conclude their visit to the United States with a dinner hosted by American Women for International Understanding (AWIU) in Los Angeles, California, which provides the awardees with special grants to continue their work at home.

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