Melania Trump makes case for women’s ’empowerment’

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First Lady honors 12 with Women of Courage Award
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First Lady honors 12 with Women of Courage Award
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First Lady Melania Trump made the case for women's "empowerment" at a ceremony Wednesday honoring a dozen activists who have overcome great odds to advance human rights around the world.

In a rare public speech, Melania Trump called for an embrace of diversity, appearing as a "special guest" at the International Women of Courage event at the US State Department.

"We must begin now to challenge old fears, and fight for justice and stand up against evil and injustice wherever it may be," she said as she paid tribute to the 13 women honorees, all but one of whom were present.

"As leaders of our shared global community, we must continue to work towards gender empowerment and respect for people from all backgrounds and ethnicities, remembering always that we are all ultimately members of one race, the human race."

The first lady's vocal support of diversity appeared somewhat at odds with the stance of President Donald Trump's administration, whose "America first" worldview has often cast outsiders as a threat.

Three of the honorees Wednesday were from countries targeted by Trump's thwarted travel ban on refugees and travelers from Muslim-majority nations: Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

Praising the strength and courage of the laureates who have fought against gender bias and discrimination, Melania Trump said it is women like them who will "ignite a global battle against inhumanity."

"Together, with the international community, the United States must send a clear message that we are watching," she said.

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