Obama, who was on a brief state visit to Saudi Arabia, handed the accolade to Muneef, founder of the National Family Safety Program, a state-funded body campaigning against domestic violence in the Kingdom.
Speaking exclusively to Asharq Al-Awsat, Muneef said the US State Department’s award will help her organization step up efforts to support victims of domestic violence and consolidate the image of the Saudi women and their contribution to changing society in line with Islamic Shari’a law.
“The award will help me and my colleagues involved in the cause to provide more services that befit the Saudi woman,” she said. “During the meeting [with Obama] we talked about the issues of domestic violence, operational mechanisms, and the preventive and therapeutic services we have provided through the program.”
She also discussed with Obama the role of Saudi women in social development and politics.
As for the nature of the award, Muneef said she received the award but she refuses to accept any financial support from abroad. “The National Family Safety Program is a governmental [body] that is supported by the government,” she added.
The award is presented annually by the US Department of State to ten distinguished women across the world.
“Dr. Al Muneef has worked relentlessly to spread awareness about domestic violence and victims of child abuse,” the State Department said.
Muneef had been awarded with the prize earlier this month but was reportedly unable to attend the ceremony in the United States for family reasons.