Melania Trump highlights women’s empowerment in keynote speech

First Lady Melania Trump honors International Women of Courage during a ceremony at the State Department in Washington, DC, March 29, 2017.
Melania Trump makes rare public appearance
02:07 - Source: CNN

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Her next major event is the Easter egg roll

She is currently living in New York City

Washington CNN  — 

First lady Melania Trump called for women’s empowerment and celebration of diversity in rare remarks Wednesday morning at the State Department.

“As leaders of our shared global economy, we must continue to work towards gender empowerment and respect for people from all backgrounds and ethnicities, remembering always that we are all ultimately members of one race, the human race. Each one of us is uniquely different,” Trump said, honoring 12 women at the 2017 Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Awards.

The awards honor women across the globe who have overcome injustice – from domestic violence to environmental disaster to gender bias to acid attacks – and gone on to transform their societies, often in the face of personal danger.

“We must continue once again to shine a light on the horrendous atrocities taking place around the corner and around the globe,” Trump said. “We must continue to fight injustice in all its forms, in whatever scale or shape it takes in our lives. Together, we must declare that the era of allowing brutality against women and children is over, while affirming that the time for empowering women around the world is now. For wherever women are diminished, the entire world is diminished with them.”

Wednesday’s event was Trump’s first formal on-camera speech since her husband took office. She made brief remarks thanking attendees at an inaugural ball and though she gave a speech at the White House on International Women’s Day, reporters were escorted out of the room before she spoke. The State Department event comes as she continues to slowly embrace her first lady spotlight.

Trump spoke broadly and did not mention her husband or his administration during her 10-minute remarks, signaling a desire to remain above the partisan fray.

She personally handed out the 12 awards and many recipients became visibly emotional upon being honored.

“Their lives remind us of the boundless capacity of the human spirit when guided by moral clarity and desire to do good,” she said of the honorees, encouraging those in the audience to consider what it would be like to experience the adversity they were each able to overcome.

“Ask yourself if you would have the fortitude of spirit, the courage of your convictions, and the enormous inner strength required to stand up and fight against such odds,” Trump said.

She called for US and international communities to “remain vigilant against injustice in all its many forms.”

During the campaign, Trump said she would seek to champion combating cyberbullying as first lady. More recently, she has identified women’s empowerment as a key platform for her East Wing.

Her staff is slowly coming together – on Monday, it was announced that Stephanie Grisham would serve as her communications director, joining chief of staff Lindsay Reynolds and social secretary Anna Cristina “Rickie” Lloyd.

Trump, who is living in New York with son Barron, 11, was on hand Tuesday evening to host a reception with senators and spouses. She is expected to make her move to Washington at the conclusion of the school year.

Her next major White House event will be the annual Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn next month.

This story has been updated.