On Thursday 30 April 2015, at a ceremony in New York, Diana Nammi, Founder and Executive Director of the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO) will be honoured with the Voice of Courage Award for her lifelong commitment to protecting the rights of Middle Eastern and North African women and girls and to ending “honour” based violence, forced marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM) and domestic violence.

The awards, which celebrate refugee women who champion the prevention of violence against refugee women and girls are held by the Women’s Refugee Commission, an international organisation that monitors the care and protection of refugee women and children globally.

Diana, a former Kurdish refugee, founded IKWRO in 2002 in response to the police dismissing the “honour” killing of her own interpreter as a “cultural matter”. She recognised the need for an organisation to protect the human rights of women and girls from Middle Eastern and North African communities and to tackle “honour” based violence, forced marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM) and domestic violence. Prior to arriving in the UK, Diana spent 12 years as a Peshmerger, freedom fighter, defending women’s rights in Kurdistan. Eventually, she had to flee the Middle East when the situation became too dangerous for her young child.

Diana’s work has broken the silence on the taboo of “honour” based violence and one of her stand out achievements was securing the first ever extradition of “honour” killing murderers from the Kurdish region of Iraq to the UK through the Justice for Banaz campaign.

Last year IKWRO assisted over 780 clients face to face and gave advice to over 2500 clients and professionals over the telephone. IKWRO provides advice, advocacy, training and counselling and campaigns for better laws and policies.

Diana’s work has received national and international recognition and she is regularly called upon to share her expertise with government, academics, the media and professionals. In 2007 Eve magazine awarded Diana the Eve Heroines Honour, in 2012 she was named in a list of 150 women who shake the world by Newsweek and The Daily Beast. In 2014 she received the Special Jury Women on the Move Award from UNHCR, The Forum and Migrants Rights Network, she was selected as one of BBC’s “100 Women” and she was honoured with the Woman of the Year Award.

In response to winning the Voice of Courage Award Diana said;

‘I am deeply moved to be honoured with the Voice of Courage Award in recognition of my activism and my work with IKWRO. It is a great moment for our movement that the international community are joining us in recognising that “honour” based violence must be treated as the the crime that it is and must never be justified in the name of culture.

Together we must commit to ending “honour” based violence and all forms of violence against all women and girls, everywhere in the world. Only by true equality and full realisation of every woman and girl’s rights, whether they are in their place of birth or if they have migrated, can we all progress as a healthy society.’

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