MICHELLE OBAMA AWARDS RUSLANA
Ruslana, winner of the 2004 Eurovision Song Contest, was presented with the United States Secretary of State’s Women of Courage award by US First Lady Michelle Obama on March 4. The award was presented in recognition of her bravery and courage.
“It’s very important to be … a voice of my country,” she said as she accepted the award, presented to women recognized for their “exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for peace, justice, human rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment, often at great personal risk.”
Over the past three months, that’s been the world in which Ukraine’s Ruslana has lived, the world of risk. She’s devoted countless hours to supporting and energizing the thousands of people who gathered on Kyiv’s Independence Square to demand changes in their government – changes that are unfolding as the world looks on.
Ruslana’s activity has catapulted her popularity far beyond that brought by her music. She’s earned respect for her dedication, courage, and sheer strength of character, and is rapidly becoming considered a national heroine.
“I think of myself as a volunteer … showing people that we need to be [on Independence Square] because there is no other way,” she said in December. “Europe must be our future.”
It’s no surprise that Ruslana took to the stage in Kyiv this winter. Her career as an activist and humanitarian is as well-established as her 20 years’ experience as a performer. She was an active participant in the 2004 Orange Revolution, became the first-ever UNICEF National Ambassador in Ukraine in 2005, and has been an advocate for renewable energy. She currently serves as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.