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Melania Trump Honors Women In Rare First Lady Appearance

In a rare speaking appearance, First Lady Melania Trump called Wednesday for a celebration of the achievements of women around the world.
Image: Melania Trump attends  the International Women of Courage ceremony
First lady Melania Trump speaks before presenting the 2017 Secretary's of State's International Women of Courage (IWOC) Awards at the State Department in Washington on March 29, 2017.Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

In a rare speaking appearance, First Lady Melania Trump called Wednesday for a celebration of the achievements of women and the need for their empowerment during an event at the State Department.

Honoring a dozen women from around the world at the "Women of Courage" award ceremony, Trump said the United States must "continue to shine the light on each miraculous victory achieved by women" and preached vigilance against injustice "in all of its forms."

"Together, we must declare that the era of allowing the brutality against women and children is over," she added. "While affirming that the time for empowering women around the world is now. For if ever women around the world are diminished, the entire world is diminished with them."

Though she spoke powerful words on Wednesday, the appearance was one of a only a handful has made in D.C. since becoming first lady.

She has lived largely outside of the White House spotlight, remaining in New York with son, Barron, where she intends to stay until the end of the school year in June. The two then plan to join President Donald Trump in Washington.

The East Wing of the White House has seen a recent uptick in activity. Melania Trump announced on Monday that the key role of communications adviser would be filled by current White House Deputy Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham.

Before taking a post in the White House, Grisham was an early member of Team Trump, working the press throughout the 2016 election as the traveling member of the campaign's communications team.

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The appearance at the State Department was the latest instance of Trump's increased visibility this week. Along with her husband, Trump hosted a bipartisan gathering of senators and their spouses at the White House Tuesday evening. And Wednesday, after her short remarks at State, she appeared alongside her husband and several other White House officials for a women's empowerment panel in the East Room.

But one of the biggest and most anticipated events on the First Lady's calendar is mere weeks away: the annual White House Easter Egg Roll. After questions about whether the event would take place, the White House announced the traditional roll be held on Monday, April 17th.

The women honored by Trump on Wednesday were: Sharmin Akter, activist against early/forced marriage, Bangladesh; Malebogo Molefhe, human rights activist, Botswana; Natalia Ponce de León, president, Natalia Ponce de León Foundation, Colombia; Rebecca Kabugho, political and social activist, Democratic Republic of Congo; Jannat Al Ghezi, Deputy Director of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq; Major Aïchatou Ousmane Issaka, Deputy Director of Social Work at the Military Hospital of Niamey, Niger; Veronica Simogun, Director and Founder, Family for Change Association, Papua New Guinea; Cindy Arlette Contreras Bautista, lawyer and founder of Not One Woman Less, Peru; Sandya Eknelygoda, human rights activist, Sri Lanka; Sister Carolin Tahhan Fachakh, member, Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (F.M.A.), Syria; Saadet Özkan, educator and gender activist, Turkey; Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, blogger and environmental activist, Vietnam; and Fadia Najib Thabet, human rights activist, Yemen.