The United States Embassy in Bucharest awarded Women of Courage in a Wednesday night’s ceremony. Ambassador Hans Klemm said the purpose was “to help honor and celebrate six Romanian women who embody compassion, resilience, and, above all else, courage.”
The main honoree was Erika Garnier. “Though still relatively early in her career, Ms. Garnier already has what it takes to become a leader in her field, and she does this by serving both as an inspirational trainer and as a living example for others. (….) Since 2011, Ms. Garnier has worked with Motivation Romania, a well-respected NGO that helps people with mobility challenges discover how they can become more active in their personal, social, and professional lives,” the ambassador said. He also mentioned that Garnier “has been instrumental in the success of the U.S. Embassy’s Sports Envoy Program, which recently brought two U.S. wheelchair tennis players to Romania for an inspirational event.”
Other awards went to Magda Ciobanu, MD and Ramona Brad, who have supported some time ago the foundation of a group that later evolved into the Romania Respira [Romania Breathes] Coalition, a network of more than 250 organizations advocating a ban on smoking in public places; to freelance photojournalist Ioana Moldovan, who documents the human impact of conflicts, in works published internationally; to Sergeant First Class Mirela-Valentina Melinte, the first Romanian to join the U.S. Special Forces in a mission; and to Madalina Turza, chair of the European Centre for the Rights of Disabled Children.
The event hosted by the American Embassy was attended, among others, by chief anti-corruption prosecutor Laura Codruta Kovesi, recognized as Woman of Courage in 2014, by Justice Minister Raluca Pruna and Education Minister Adrian Curaj.
As explained on the website of the U.S. Department of State, the Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award was established in 2007 to honour women who have “exemplified exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for human rights, women’s equality, and social progress, often at great personal risk.”