By Ashley A Yu
Despite facing the potential of harassment at border crossings and on social media, Naw K’nyaw Paw came to Washington, D.C. to accept the 2019 International Women of Courage (IWOC) Award and act as keynote speaker on behalf of all 10 awardees. Now in its 13th year, the Secretary of State’s IWOC Award recognizes women around the world who have shown leadership, courage, resourcefulness, and willingness to sacrifice for others, especially in promoting women's rights. When asked how she felt being an award recipient, Naw K’nyaw Paw said she was honored, but “this award is not just for myself as an individual, it is going to KWO. At KWO, we believe in collective leadership because I cannot do this alone.”
In the spirit of collective learning and leadership, Naw K’nyaw Paw and eight other awardees are currently embarking on an exchange with the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), which connects foreign leaders with their American counterparts for short-term visits in the United States to build mutual understanding on foreign policy issues. For her IVLP visit, Naw K’nyaw Paw has traveled to San Diego, California, where she will meet with community-based organizations that address issues such as gender-based violence, community building and empowerment of women and minorities.
As demonstrated by KWO and all the Women of Courage, there is no limit to what people can do when they collaborate. At the end of her keynote IWOC speech, Naw K’nyaw Paw proclaimed, “I’d like to close with a poem by Rupi Kaur: ‘I stand on the sacrifices of a million women before me, thinking what can I do to make this mountain taller, so the women after me can see farther.’’