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Jill Biden: Global pandemic underscores how ‘we are all connected’

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First lady Jill Biden said Monday that the coronavirus pandemic has taught Americans that — for better or worse — people across the world are tied to each other.

“If we have learned anything in this year of sickness and sorrow, it’s that we are all connected to one another — how one deadly breath can move through the world,” Biden said during remarks at the International Women of Courage Awards, an annual event hosted by the State Department that recognizes brave women from around the globe.

“Poverty and conflict, unrest and uncertainty, these aren’t contained by borders,” the first lady told a virtual audience for the ceremony.

“But we’ve seen how joy can spread too, with the music of balcony concerts bringing comfort to people across the world,” Biden continued, highlighting scenes from across the country as the nation has grappled with COVID-19.

“We’ve seen calls for justice echoing through the streets of cities near and far,” she said. “And we’ve seen how the things that connect all of us — our love for family and friends, our hope that we will be together soon — transcend language and distance.”

“Diplomacy at its best is a recognition of this connection,” Biden said.

This year’s 21 honorees include Guatemalan trial judge Erika Aifan, who has presided over war atrocity cases, Iranian chess champion and women’s rights activist Shohreh Bayat and Chinese human rights lawyer Wang Yu.

Seven of the award winners were honored posthumously.

The honor, which is described as the State Department’s “only all-female award,” recognizes women “who have demonstrated exceptional courage and leadership.”

Standing alongside Secretary of State Antony Blinken during the ceremony, Biden said forcefully, “Justice can only be justice if it’s for all.”

The United States, she said, will “make the choice to lead, to be bold, and to lift up women and girls everywhere who light our way.”

“Today, we recommit to being worthy of that courage,” Biden added. “To understanding that our lives are tied together in immeasurable and powerful ways. And by choosing every day to honor that connection.”

Tags Antony Blinken China Coronavirus COVID-19 Global health Guatemala International Women of Courage Awards Iran Jill Biden Pandemic State Department

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