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Melania Trump Makes Rare Speech to Honor Female Activists: ‘The Time for Empowering Women Around the World Is Now’

This one’s for the ladies. Melania Trump made a rare appearance at a ceremony at the State Department on Wednesday, March 29, that honored female activists.

The First Lady, 46, spoke to a room full of attendees that included the State Department’s International Women of Courage Award winners, urging the community to stand up against violence toward women and children and championing female empowerment and diversity.

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First Lady Melania Trump honors International Women of Courage during a ceremony at the State Department in Washington, DC, on March 29, 2017. AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

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“I am deeply humbled to be here today to honor these 12 remarkable and inspirational women, who have given so much for so many, regardless of the unimaginable threat to their own safety,” she said. “Together, we must declare that the era of allowing the brutality against women and children is over while affirming that the time for empowering women around the world is now.”

Honorees at Wednesday’s event included women from Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Turkey. More than 100 women have been recognized at the event since its inception in 2007, which was “meant to showcase and support a group of women who put their personal safety and sometimes lives at risk in order to help improve their communities,” according to the White House website.

Melania Trump International Women of Courage Awards IWOC
First lady Melania Trump presents the 2017 Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award to Sister Carolin Tahhan Fachakh of Syria March 29, 2017 in Washington, DC. Win McNamee/Getty Images

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Continued Trump, “For wherever women are diminished, the entire world is diminished with them. However, wherever women are empowered, towns and villages, schools and economies are empowered, and together we are all made strong with them.”

“We need to continue working toward gender empowerment and respect for people from all backgrounds and ethnicities, always remembering that together we are one race — the human race — and each one of us has unique gifts and talents to share with the world,” she said. Wednesday’s event marked a rare appearance by the First Lady, who has spent much of her time since the inauguration in New York City caring for her 11-year-old son, Barron.

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U.S. President Donald Trump, his wife Melania Trump and their son Barron Trump arrive together on Air Force One at the Palm Beach International Airport to spend part of the weekend at Mar-a-Lago resort on March 17, 2017 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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The FLOTUS’ remarks come as a surprise to some given that her husband, President Donald Trump, has been seeking to defund Planned Parenthood and has issued travel bans on several Muslim-majority countries.

During last year’s campaign, the 70-year-old real estate mogul also made headlines after he was heard making lewd comments about women on leaked Access Hollywood tapes from 2005. At the time, he told then-host Billy Bush, “You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything. … Grab them by the p–sy. You can do anything.”

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