Courage Honorees: JSU hosting 2 justice fighters who empower women globally

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The International Visitor Center of Jackson (IVCJ), which is housed in JSU Global, has been selected by the U.S. Department of State to host two of its International Women of Courage (IWOC) Awards honorees.



Wang Yu, a prominent human rights lawyer until her arrest and imprisonment in China, and Ranitha Gnanarajah, a lawyer from Sri  Lanka who’s fighting for human rights, will participate in an International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) virtual exchange with IVCJ on April 6, 9 and 16. During this time, the honorees will cultivate relationships with counterparts in Jackson to share strategies and ideas to empower women around the globe. The April 16 session will be open to the JSU community.

Yu was held after a nationwide persecution of lawyers and rights advocates during the “709 crackdown.” She had taken on multiple politically sensitive cases, representing activists, scholars, Falun Gong practitioners, farmers, and petitioners. Cases involved a wide array of issues, including women’s and children’s rights, and the rights to religion, freedom of expression, assembly and association.

Yu is now under an exit ban and has been harassed, threatened, searched and physically assaulted by police since she began to take on rights abuse cases in 2011.



Gnanarajah continues to defend the rights of the marginalized and vulnerable communities in the country, despite threats and challenges by the state. She has dedicated her career to accountability and justice for victims of enforced disappearances and prisoners detained often for years without charge under Sri Lanka’s Prevention of Terrorism Act. She provides free legal aid and related services.

As an individual personally affected by the conflict and based on her extensive experience working with victims and their families, Gnanarajah has demonstrated tremendous passion and dedication to justice and accountability, especially for Sri Lanka’s most vulnerable populations.

The U.S. Department of State’s IWOC Award recognizes women from throughout the globe who have demonstrated exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for peace, justice, human rights, gender equality, and women’s empowerment – often at great personal risk and sacrifice.

“Courageous women inspire a better world,” said Shameka Reed, international marketing and recruitment specialist for JSU Global. “We are excited to be selected by the U.S. Secretary of State and the U.S. Department of State to host these amazing women. We look forward to hearing their stories and strengthening our connections with them.”

For more information, contact Reed at 601-979-3796 or shameka.reed@jsums.edu.

 About International Visitor Center of Jackson

The International Visitors Center of Jackson (IVCJ) is Mississippi’s only visitor center and the only center in the country located on the campus of an HBCU. IVCJ is committed to improving and strengthening cultural and economic understanding between citizens of Mississippi and foreign dignitaries.