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Mrs. Obama's speech,  March 2012.   Thank you. Thank you so much. Good morning, everyone. To say it is a pleasure to be here with all of you today would be an understatement. This is truly an important opportunity, it is an uplifting opportunity, and I am happy to be a part of it every single year.

And I have to start by thanking Secretary Clinton not just for that very kind introduction, but she has been an outstanding -- should I say that again? -- an outstanding Secretary of State. And she has been an inspiration to women and girls around the world. She is a role model for me in so many ways. I don't think she realizes how what she has done has made what I am doing partially possible. So with all the respect and admiration that I can give to her, I will be wherever she needs me to be, whenever she needs me to be there.

I also want to join in recognizing our special guest, First Lady Mills, who is a dear friend. We enjoyed our visit to Ghana. And she is going to have a productive stay here in Washington, so she's going to be busy. Just take it easy. And of course, Secretary Vanda Pignato, who is a dear friend as well. We are honored to have you with us as well. I also want to thank them for taking the time to be here today. It means so much to us all for you to be here.

I have to thank Ambassador Melanne Verveer for her terrific work she is doing -- what she is doing for -- for Global Women’s Issues. This event is top-notch, and it wouldn't happen if not for her. We are so grateful.

And of course, I want to recognize most of all the ten Women of Courage that we're honoring here today. These women come from all different corners of the globe. They have taken very different journeys to this moment. But they are all here today because somewhere along the line, they decided they could no longer accept the world as it is. And they committed themselves to fighting for the world as they know it should be. They saw corruption, and they worked to expose it. They saw oppression, and they worked to end it. They saw violence, poverty, discrimination, and inequality -- and they decided to use their voices, and risk their lives, to do something about it.

And day after day, these women have stood up and said the things that no one else could say, or would say. Year after year, they endured hardships that few of us could bear.

At the age of 22, Zin Mar Aungwas imprisoned for 11 years simply for writing a letter demanding that the elected civilian government take power in Burma. When she was freed, she went right back to work, fighting for the rights of women and ethnic minorities and political prisoners.

Shad Begum founded a women’s NGO in Pakistan, and she ran for district council. When she won, she intended to use her position to improve health care and education. But when the council met, she was forced to sit in a separate side room, behind a locked door. The microphone that was supposed to allow her to participate never worked. But undeterred, she decided to run for an even higher elected office, saying -- and this is her quote -- “Whatever it takes, I will make them hear me.”

And then there is Jineth Bedoya Lima, an investigative journalist in Colombia. Back in 2000, when she was writing about an arms struggling [sic] network, she was kidnapped, brutally assaulted for hours by those who wished to silence her. But instead of backing down, she moved from her regional newspaper to a national one, and despite continued threats against her life, she kept reporting. She became a spokeswoman for a global campaign against sexual violence. And for 12 years, she’s fought to hold her attackers responsible for their crimes.

She has even taken her case all the way to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, seeking justice not just for herself, but for women across her country.

And that is why, despite the risks they face, despite the hardships they endure, these women carry on -- because they know that they are fighting not just for their own rights and freedoms, but for the rights and freedoms of so many others. That is why, despite daunting physical obstacles, Safak Pavey didn’t just win a seat in parliament in her own country; she traveled to countries across the globe, winning support for the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. She lives her life by a simple motto -- these are her words: “Whatever you experience is an example to others.” Whatever you experience is an example to others.

The same can be said of Pricilla de Oliveira Azevedo. Despite being one of just a few women in the Rio de Janeiro military police, she has risen through the ranks, commanding more than 100 male officers. We love that. Working in one of the toughest communities in the city and even arresting a gang of criminals who kidnapped her. Women of all ages have been inspired by her leadership, and of them she says -- again a quote -- “They see me as an example of the fact that any woman can work in any type of activity. It’s just a question of wanting to do it.”



And that is why each year we invite young people to join us at this event. It is so important because we want them to learn from and be inspired by the example of these women of courage.

We invite them because we want them -- we want to say to them and to boys and girls across America that if, despite all the obstacles these women of courage face, if they are still running for office and running organizations and serving their communities and their countries, then surely you can find a way to follow your dreams. Surely, you can find a way to give back to your community and to your country. If these 10 women can endure death threats and horrifying violence and years behind bars to stand up for what they believe in, then surely our young people can find a way to stand up for what they believe in. Surely, all of you can overcome the obstacles you face in your own life.

And I’m thinking particularly of Jineth Bedoya Lima and what she endured on that day 12 years ago. As her attackers assaulted her, they said to her, “Pay attention. We’re sending a message to the press in Colombia.” Well, today, with every story she writes and with every public appearance she makes, Jineth is sending her own message that she will not back down, that she will not give up, and she will never, ever allow her voice to be silenced.

And it is the same message that all of these women are sending with every act of courage they commit -– the message that injustice will not stand, that inequality will not be tolerated, and that they will not stay silenced in the face of evil.

And to all of those who are oppressed and abused and left out and left behind, they are saying: I am standing with you. I am fighting for you. You are not alone.

And on this International Women’s Day, that is the very message I wish to send to these 10 women and others like them in every corner of the globe.

On behalf of my husband and our country, I want you to know that you are never, ever alone. The United States of America stands with you. And we are so incredibly proud of everything that you have achieved. And we will continue to fight with you for the causes to which you have devoted your lives.

So thank you all so much. Enjoy this day. Congratulations. God bless. Now, before I sit down, I have one important honor. I get to introduce two more women of courage who have received the highest honor for their work –- our 2011 Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman. Please, let’s welcome them to the stage.





The Marina South Gardens is the largest garden project ever to be constructed in Singapore. The structure, which is inspired by the shape of an orchid, features a series of enormous solar super trees that provide the gardens with an abundant source of rain water and renewable energy.



Lights made with discarded soda bottles, water and a spot of bleach are bringing light to developing countries, one liter at a time. Check out the project at: gliwanag.org


Earth Day began on April 22, 1970 and has been an important day ever since. It's a day to reflect on our planet, our environment and what we can do to help keep them healthy.

From the beginning, children and schools were approached to support the formation and continuation of this special day. And this makes sense! Children have the most important stake in keeping our planet healthy. They'll still be the caretakers long after their parents and grandparents have passed away. Younger children can get a feel for what Earth Day is all about by singing songs, coloring pictures and making crafts. 

What Did Earth Day Accomplish?

Well, after the first earth day in 1970 here's what happened: The Environmental Protection Agency was established later in 1970. The tough Clean Air Act of 1970 was passed with only a handful of dissenting votes in both Houses of Congress.The Federal Occupational Health and Safety Act aimed at "in-plant pollution" was passed by a coalition of labor and environmental groups.Within the next three years, such landmarks as the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act were passed.

Other countries have accomplished similar achievements.

But this is one of those jobs that's never complete. Global warming and other issues never conceived of in 1970 are now common themes on the news. What Did Earth Day 1990 Achieve?  The UN Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. The Earth Summit was the largest collection of national political leaders ever to meet in one place. It made some important initial steps toward addressing climate change and preserving biodiversity. More than a dozen countries established eco-labeling programs to guide consumers toward environmentally preferable goods and services. Several Eastern European nations, responding to public demand, established new environmental protection agencies.CARE, the international relief agency, set out new environmental goals for itself in the 1990s that include planting 500,000,000 trees worldwide.

And in the new millenium there's still lots to do!  But, What Can I Do?

All these big "news stories" are great, but what does that really have to do with you and me?  I mean, we're not part of the U.N. or anything important like that.

But we are important!  If it's important to us, then it's important to our leaders. You can start with things like using recycled items in your crafting.  You can learn about your local areas recycling program. Help your family sort the recycling. Encourage your family to purchase a small home recycle bin!


You can do the same thing at work, school, clubs, home and anywhere else you spend time.

Let others know what you've done!  Write a letter to your local government representative and let them know how much you care about the environment and what work you've put in to improve it. There's nothing more inspiring than seeing people put thought into action!  It's simple to write to someone and say, "Fix the environment!" but it's more convincing if that same note read, "Here's what I'm doing to help fix the environment!!  Do you have any ideas on what else I could do? What are you up to to solve the same problem?"

But the most important part is to be aware and make others aware, every day of the year!






Spring, is meant for enjoying the outdoors.  It is much more fun to plan outdoor dining, weather permitting.  Spring is a time for, outdoor barbecues, and simple buffets-any meal that can either be prepared quickly, or offer minimal last minute preparation.  Fresh herbs, enhance Spring cooking.  Herbs are very accommodating; they grow very well in apartment windows, your balcony, backyards in the city, or in your country gardens.  Herbs grow year round, and add a magical experience to your favorite recipes.  Fresh herbs add a distinctive flavor, and intensity, that bottled herbs cannot.  Herbs in a decorative pot, can serve as an appealing table decoration, to your Spring outdoor dining experience.  They can simply be transferred, from your window to your outdoor or indoor table easily.  Fresh fragrant basil, adds great flavor to your pesto sauce, and zest to your homemade Italian dishes.  The decorative flowers of basil, thyme, society garlic and chives make tasty garnishes to your plate.  The beautiful color of Lavender chive blossoms can contribute, contrasting colors to clam chowder, atop your macaroni salad, potato salad, and your vegetable dishes.

Simple pretty bouquets are very easy to create, wild sunflowers from a meadow, or simple daisies from your local supermarket, look just as nice, as a sophisticated centerpiece.  You can also use a house plant, in the center of a large plate, with whole fresh fruit around the houseplant.  Simplicity can be elegant.  Eating outdoors, whether on your apartment balcony, a deck overlooking the city, on the beach or a spacious lawn, is always a romantic change to everyday dining. There is never a special occasion needed, to spice up your life.  Spreading a quilt on a patch of grass anywhere, with a simple candle can spice up the dining experience.  There is no need to fuss over matching tableware; contrasting colors will stimulate your dining experience.  Less is more when you are enjoying outdoor dining.  Paper plates inside of a wicker plate holder are also an excellent idea. You can also use re-cycled glass jars for your cold drinks.  Wedding parties, baby showers, engagement parties, and birthdays, that call for china and crystal, can take on a more casual and lighthearted appearance outdoors.  An outdoor experience with guacamole, salsa and tortilla chips is always a hit with guest.  Remember there is no need to stick to just one traditional themed dinner, it is okay to mix cultural themed dishes like Spaghetti and Taco's, Indian Curry with Rice, and Thai Spiced Barbeque with Traditional Potato Salad at the same outdoor dinner.

 

A picnic is a very relaxing casual form of dining.  The preparation for your picnic can be as casual as stopping by your local supermarket, picking up some prepared potato salad and adding the leftovers in your refrigerator to the meal.  Remember that the food is only a part of the picnic appeal.  The company, the view, and the atmosphere adds to the picnic appeal.  The item that will ensure the success of the picnic is a cooler or chest to store your items,

Here is a lovely easy spicy, Mediterranean Hummus spread, to serve with whole wheat pita bread, pita chips, or as a dip for fresh vegetables.

Spicy Hummus

2 cans (16 ounces each) reduced-sodium garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained except 1/4 cup of the liquid.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 teaspoon Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce

1/4 teaspoon paprika

3 tablespoons Tahini (sesame paste)

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1. Puree garbanzos, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic paprika tahini, parsley and sriracha chili sauce, in a blender or food processor.

2. Add reserved liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture is smooth.

3. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve

Unlike meat-based proteins, beans are naturally low in fat, are free of saturated fat and trans-fat.   Beans are a cholesterol free source of protein, iron, and fiber.  Research shows that a diet including beans may reduce your risk of heart disease.

 

You will love this recipe:

Caribbean Chicken and Pineapple Salsa

1 1/4 cup Fiber One Cereal

1 tablespoon jerk seasoning (dry)

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves

1/4 cup buttermilk

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon Sriracha chili sauce

Pineapple Salsa

1 can (8oz) crushed drained pineapple

1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper

1/4 cup chopped papaya or apricots

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1. Heat oven to 400F Spray cooking sheet with olive oil cooking spray.  Finely crush cereal place it in a shallow pan.  Stir in jerk seasoning.

2. Place chicken, buttermilk, mustard and pepper sauce in a large food storage bag.  Seal bag; shake well.  Remove chicken from the bag; coat with cereal mixture then place on sprayed baking sheet. Bake 15 to 20 minutes make sure chicken is done. Serve with chilled pineapple salsa on top, a green salad, and jasmine rice.

Spring Picnic Trail Mix

2 Cups Fiber One Cereal

3 Cups Cinnamon Chex Cereal

2 Cups Cheerios

2 Cups Fiber One Honey Clusters Cereal

1 Cup Chopped Walnuts

2 Cups Dehydrated Banana Chips

1 Cup Dried Raisins

Store in a tightly covered container, or plastic storage bag.

 


Zucchini Chips with Wasabi Creme.

Almonds

Because of its various antioxidants and anti-aging properties, you can use almond oil to reduce wrinkles, and fine lines in your face. It can be done, by lightly massaging your face nightly with almond oil. When you apply regular massage with this oil, you will have a remarkable, glowing and radiant complexion, that will make you look younger than your age.



Almond oil, has been used for centuries, to reduce dark circles around the eyes, and to revitalize the skin.

Jackfruit

Jackfruit, is the largest tree-borne fruit in the world. It is believed to be indigenous, to the rain forests of the Western Ghats, a mountain range along the western side of India. In 1782, jackfruit plants from a captured French ship destined for Martinique, were taken to Jamaica by the British Navy, where the tree is now common. About 100 years later, the jackfruit made its appearance in Florida.
 
Jackfruit is moderately large to very large, weighing from 10 to 60 pounds. The pulp of the opened fruit, smells like pineapple and banana, and has a flavor similar to Juicyfruit gum.  In addition to containing vitamin C, jackfruit is also rich in phytonutrients such as lignans, isoflavones and saponins which have anti-cancer actions.  These phytonutrients, may eliminate cancer-causing free radicals from the body and slow the degeneration of cells that can lead to degenerative diseases.  Healing Hands Magazine, will ship cans of Green Jackfruit to you.  Go to our Contact Page to order.