PNG’s ‘Woman of Courage’
US first lady presents award
Papua New Guinean Veronica Simogun has been recognised in the annual International Women of Courage awards handed out by the US Department of State.
She recieved her award in the US from the first lady, Melania Trump.
Simogun is the director of the Family for Change Association based in Wewak, East Sepik Province. She founded the association in 2012 and has been helping women affected by violence ever since, funding much of the work herself.
Simogun was born in Urip village in the Boykin/ Dagua area of Wewak. She studied at the Civil Aviation Training College and graduated with a certificate in civil aviation in 1981. She worked with the Department of Civil Aviation for six years before moving back to her home village in 1986 to assist her church and community in the promotion of safe and healthy living.
Her life-long desire has been to see strong communities, where families are happily secure and women and children live free from violence and intimidation.
Risking her own safety, she has intervened to protect women experiencing gender-based violence. In the face of death threats, she has helped shelter and relocate victims many times.
The International Women of Courage awards recognise women around the globe who have demonstrated exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for peace, justice, human rights, gender equality, and women’s empowerment, often at personal risk.
Since the inception of the awards in 2007, the Department of State has honoured over 100 women from 60 countries.
Awardees, alongside Simogun, this year included human rights and social activists from countries including Botswana, Colombia, Bangladesh and Iraq.
As part of the awards, the women travelled across the US to engage with Americans. They visited Atlanta, Denver, Des Moines, Minneapolis, New York, Pensacola, Pittsburgh, Portland, San Diego and Tampa. ■
Women of courage … PNG’s Veronica Simogun receives her award from America’s first lady Melania Trump (right); the winners of the Women of Courage awards with the first lady and under secretary Shannon Pose (above).