State welcomes International Women of Courage award recipient

INDIANAPOLIS – The State of Indiana Commission for Women and the International Center welcomed Judge Iris Yassmin Barrios to Indianapolis today to celebrate her recognition from the U.S. Department of State as a 2014 International Women of Courage award recipient.


As one of ten women leaders from around the globe, all of whom have advanced women's rights in their countries even at great personal risk, Yassmin Barrios received recognition from First Lady Michelle Obama and Deputy Secretary of State Heather Higginbottom on March 4 as an International Woman of Courage. All of these women are now traveling across the United States to share their stories and meet with Americans.


As the honoree visiting Indianapolis, Yassmin Barrios is the President of one of two of Guatemala's High Risk Court Tribunals. She has made a career of taking on the most difficult and politically-sensitive cases. Such cases have confronted high-profile corruption, organized crime and drug trafficking, and human rights abuses occurring during Guatemala's 36-year internal armed conflict (1960-1996). Most strikingly, in 2013, Barrios served as the Presiding Judge in the genocide trial of former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt. The trial represented the first time a former head of state was tried for genocide in his home country by the national judiciary. By initiating the judicial process against the former dictator, Barrios gave a voice to thousands of Ixil-Mayan victims, provided an important legal precedent for genocide cases worldwide, and demonstrated the importance of an independent judiciary.


The International Center developed Yassmin Barrios' Indianapolis itinerary to include a meeting with a group convened by the Indiana Commission of Women, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, Judge Sarah Evans Barker along with other high-ranking members of the Indiana judiciary and members of the Indiana University McKinney School of Law. She will also be a part of a roundtable discussion involving women's empowerment and equity, as well as volunteer at the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic.


Following the award ceremony and meetings with U.S. Government officials and NGO counterparts in Washington, D.C., the honorees traveled as a group to Pittsburgh, then separately to selected cities across the United States to engage with the American people through an International Visitor Leadership Program. Following her visit to Indianapolis, Yassmin Barrios will reconvene with her fellow award recipients in Chicago to reflect on their visit and discuss ways to work together to improve the lives of women and girls around the world.


The prestigious Secretary of State's Award for International Women of Courage annually recognizes women around the globe who have shown exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for women's rights and empowerment. Since the inception of this award in 2007, the Department of State has honored 76 women from 49 different countries.


About the Indiana Commission for Women

The Indiana Commission for Women is committed to the full participation of women in all aspects of society in order to live, work and raise a family. ICW works to move Indiana women forward by understanding the needs of Indiana women and their families and by working strategically both within government and in our communities to help bring about positive solutions. We act as the voice of women, communicating their needs and concerns as well as their successes and contributions, so that they can become better connected to their communities and to the tools, resources and opportunities needed to find their own voice.