Statement from the U.S. Embassy in Pristina, March 4, 2015

The United States Embassy, Pristina is pleased to announce Arbana Xharra, Editor-in-Chief of Zëri, as the winner of the Secretary of State’s prestigious International Women of Courage Award (IWOC) for the European Bureau.

The Secretary of State’s annual IWOC Award honors women around the globe who have exemplified exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for human rights, women’s equality, and social progress, often at great personal risk. Moreover, it highlights the European Bureau’s strategic priorities of countering violent extremism and combating corruption. The International Visitor Leadership Program brings the honorees to the United States to meet with Americans and make connections that will continue to empower women in their countries. The IWOC Award is the only Department of State award that pays tribute to emerging women leaders worldwide.

Arbana Xharra’s reporting contributes to the strengthening of Kosovo’s democracy.  Her early reporting on religious extremism and its impact on society shed light on a serious issue for Kosovo and the region.  Xharra authored a series of investigative reports on Islamic extremists operating in Kosovo and uncovered financial and operational links with foreign terrorist organizations.  These efforts not only helped society understand the problem, but also bolstered government efforts to address the issue.  Reactions to her reporting resulted in public attacks on her reputation and death threats to her and her family.  Undeterred, Xharra continues to report on malfeasance in public institutions.  .

The Department of State will host the 2015 International Women of Courage Award Ceremony (‪#‎IWOC2015) in Washington, D.C. on March 5, 2015 at 1:00 PM ET, 19:00 in Kosovo. You can watch the ceremony live on First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama, and Deputy Secretary of State Higginbottom, will present the award to Ms. Xharra and the other honorees. Read the U.S. Department of State announcement here: