2018 HRC Awards Honor Two Global Human Rights Activists

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton presented awards from the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security to (from left to right) Nadia Murad, Wai Wai Nu and Lyse Doucet for their efforts in advancing women’s role in creating a more peaceful and secure world.

January 31, 2018 – Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke in Georgetown’s Gaston Hall Feb. 5 on the importance of women’s leadership in advancing human rights, justice and peace.

Hillary Clinton with stained-glass window behind her

She also presented the 2018 Hillary Rodham Clinton awards, bestowed annually by the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security to individuals advancing women’s role in creating a more peaceful and secure world.

This year’s awardees are Nadia Murad, a former ISIS captive, and Wai Wai Nu, a Rohingya activist and former political prisoner from Myanmar. Both women have overcome tremendous personal adversity and become powerful voices for women’s rights in conflict.


Murad is now a Yazidi human rights activist and United Nations’ Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking. Nu works as a civil society advocate for human rights, democracy and peace in Myanmar.

A special Global Trailblazer Award was presented by Clinton to BBC chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet for her courageous reporting on war and her efforts to spotlight the impact of conflict on women and children.

Last year, the awards were presented to four Colombians who ensured women’s voices were included in that nation’s peace agreement with the FARC.


Clinton is the honorary founding chair of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security.

She launched the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security at Georgetown six years ago.

GIWPS, led by former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer, examines and highlights the roles and experiences of women in peace and security efforts worldwide through cutting-edge research, global convening and strategic partnerships.

In partnership with the Peace Research Institute of Oslo, GIWPS has created an index that draws on recognized international data sources to rank 153 countries on women’s wellbeing.

Nadia Murad

Hillary Clinton Award | 02/05/2018

headshot of Human rights activist Nadia Murad Basee Taha

Nadia Murad is a Yazidi activist and human rights champion.

In 2014, the Islamic State attacked Nadia’s village in Iraq’s Sinjar region. That day, she witnessed the murders of her mother and brothers at the hands of the Islamic State, which considers the Yazidis to be ‘infidels.’ Nadia, was kidnapped and enslaved as a sex slave to members of the Islamic State. That year, around 7,000 Yazidi women and girls were abducted by the Islamic State.

Nadia managed to escape from her captives and a nearby family helped her flee from ISIS-controlled territory. She was able to reach a refugee camp in northern Iraq, and thereafter she was selected for a resettlement program in Germany.

Since then, Nadia has testified about her experiences to the United Nations Security Council. She uses her platform to urge the international community to respond to the plight of the Yazidis and other ethno-religious minorities in Iraq. London-based human rights attorney Amal Clooney has taken on Nadia’s case in pressuring the United Nations to investigate the crimes committed against the Yazidis by the Islamic State.

Now a Nobel Peace Prize nominee and the first UN Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking, Nadia is a powerful voice for justice for the Yazidis.

Wai Wai Nu

Hillary Clinton Award | 02/05/2018

head shot of Wai Wai

Wai Wai is a leading voice for human rights and peace in Myanmar.

Wai Wai was among thousands of political prisoners detained by Myanmar’s former military regime. Following the sentencing of her father, an opposition MP, the then-18-year-old law student was sentenced to seventeen years in Insein Prison.

Wai Wai served seven years of her sentence, a period that she now refers to as her “University of Life.” Freed in 2012, at the age of 25, she quickly became an agent of change.

She earned her law degree at Yangon East University. She founded two NGOs: Women’s Peace Network-Arakan—an organization that conducts trainings around civic engagement in Rakhine State—and Justice for Women—a network of female lawyers offering legal aid to Burmese women. Through these organizations, Wai Wai aims to bolster peace-building efforts and empower Myanmar’s women and youth through legal counsel and rights education.

Wai Wai is Rohingya. Her viral #MyFriend campaign in 2015, urging social media users to share ‘selfies’ with their friends of diverse racial and religious backgrounds, solidified her reputation as a young human rights activist worldwide. She recently used her platform to persuade the United Nations to conduct a fact-finding mission in Myanmar—though she lobbied for a more intensive Commission of Inquiry—to investigate the persecution of her fellow Rohingya in Myanmar.