March 28, 2018
US embassy nominates Indira Gandhi for ‘woman of courage’ award
US ambassador Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir (left) presenting a plaque commemorating the nomination to Indira Gandhi.
KUALA LUMPUR: The United States embassy in Malaysia today honoured kindergarten teacher M Indira Gandhi by nominating her as Malaysia’s candidate for the US International Women of Courage award.
Indira is the mother of three children, whose Muslim-convert ex-spouse had snatched the youngest daughter, Prasana Diksa, then aged 11 months, in April 2009, before unilaterally converting all three children.
In January this year, the Federal Court set aside the unilateral conversion of Indira’s three children to Islam after ruling that any conversion of non-Muslim children must get the consent of both parents.
US ambassador Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir, who has been in Malaysia for 14 months, said she had known about Indira’s case even before coming to Malaysia.
“We wanted to recognise her struggles. Her struggles go beyond her whole family. It is for all Malaysians.
“We are here to celebrate her effort and those who had supported her struggle over the past eight years,” Lakhdir said at a press conference following a brief ceremony held at the ambassador’s residence on Jalan Langgak Golf here today.
Lakhdhir added that Indira deserved the nomination because she was an extraordinarily courageous women.
The International Women of Courage Award is presented annually by the US Department of State to women around the world who have shown leadership, courage, resourcefulness and willingness to sacrifice for others, especially in promoting women’s rights.
It was established in 2007 by then US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice. Every US embassy is allowed to recommend or nominate one woman as a candidate.
Previous recipients of the award include former president of the Malaysian Bar and human rights lawyer Ambiga Sreenevasan, and transgender rights activist Nisha Ayub.