Since 2007, the State Department has been honoring women from around the world who have exhibited exceptional courage and leadership, who have drawn strength from adversity to help transform their societies, with their International Women of Courage (IWOC) Award. This year, the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See nominated Sister Carol Tahhan of Syria. In March, she was recognized during an award ceremony at the State Department for her perseverance in serving those affected by the Syrian conflict and her willingness to safeguard and empower the most vulnerable, including children, refugees, and displaced women. A member of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians Salesian sisters, working in Damascus, Sister Carol manages a nursery school for children, both Christian and Muslim, and runs a tailoring worship to provide job skills to vulnerable displaced women in collaboration with the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.
At a ceremony on March 29th in Washington, Sister Carol was recognized alongside thirteen other women from around the globe who all have demonstrated exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for peace, justice, human rights, gender equality, and women’s empowerment, often at great personal risk. There, she received her award from First Lady Melania Trump and Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas A. Shannon.
Following her time in Washington, Sister Carol travelled to Minneapolis and Los Angeles to participate in public forums, discussions, and meetings with aid groups and charities. In Minneapolis, Sister Carol visited various organizations and academic institutions focused on the education and protection of children, refugee rights, women’s economic empowerment. She also participated in cultural events, including attending a Minnesota Timberwolves basketball game. In Los Angeles, she attended a dinner hosted by the American Women for International Understanding and a forum hosted by the University of Southern California.
From the United States, she traveled to Rome to meet with Embassy officials, Vatican Press, the International Union Superiors General (UISG), and had the opportunity to attend a papal audience and meet Pope Francis.