Jill Biden helps honor women from 15 countries for courage

FILE - In this Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, file photo, first lady Jill Biden speaks during a visit to the Massey Cancer Center at Virginia Commonwealth University for a discussion about cancer disparities, in Richmond, Va. Biden says nearly two dozen women the State Department is honoring, Monday, March 8, 2021, for their courage, made an intentional decision to persist and demand justice despite their fear. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)
FILE - In this Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, file photo, first lady Jill Biden speaks during a visit to the Massey Cancer Center at Virginia Commonwealth University for a discussion about cancer disparities, in Richmond, Va. Biden says nearly two dozen women the State Department is honoring, Monday, March 8, 2021, for their courage, made an intentional decision to persist and demand justice despite their fear. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

First lady Jill Biden says nearly two dozen women the State Department honored for their courage made an “intentional decision” to persist and demand justice despite their fear.

The 21 women recognized Monday with the department's International Women of Courage Award included seven from Afghanistan who are receiving posthumous honors.

The first lady said that the women's stories make it easy to think of them as “mythical heroes or angels among us” but that they're also humans who want to enjoy life's simple pleasures.

“Some of these women have spent their lives fighting for their cause. Others are just starting out on a journey they didn’t ask for,” Biden said.

“Some were called to service, and some couldn’t escape it,” she said. “They are fighting for their own lives and for their children. They want to right the wrongs of our past, to build a brighter future for everyone. They aren’t immune to fear. No one is.”

Biden said that in the course of ordinary lives, each of the women made “an extraordinary choice.”

“You see, courage isn’t really found,” she said. "It doesn’t conjure away our doubts. It’s an intentional decision made.”

The ceremony was held virtually and not at the State Department because of the coronavirus pandemic.