Sharmin Akter, a Bangladeshi girl who successfully resisted her family’s efforts to marry her off at the age of 15, was honored with the International Woman of Courage (IOWC) Award by US First Lady Melania Trump.

When Sharmin was only 15, her mother tried to put a stop to her schooling and marry her off to a man decades older than her. But Sharmin refused the marriage and eventually succeeded in bringing her mother and prospective husband to justice.

The US State Department said Sharmin “demonstrated exceptional courage and self-possession” and “dared to break the silence expected of women and girls and advocated for her rights”.

Since its inception in 2007, International Woman of Courage Award has been recognizing the exceptional courage and leadership of woman around the world who advocate peace, justice, human rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment, often at great risk to themselves.

A total of 13 women received the 2017 International Woman of Courage Award. Many environmental activists, women and children’s rights advocates, peace activists and anti-domestic violence campaigners from around the world are on the list of women who received the award this year.

Sharmin, now 17, stays with grandmother and attends Rajapur Pilot Girls High School.

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