IRI Launches Women’s Leadership Institute to Support Arab Women

March 17, 2009

Amman, Jordan – The International Republican Institute (IRI) today announced the creation of AWLI which will support the efforts of Arab women to increase the participation of women in public life and the political process throughout the region.  By bringing together Arab women from government, politics, civil society and academia, AWLI will create a forum in which women leaders can assist their peers and provide valuable skills necessary to succeed as community leaders, civil servants and elected officials.

While the status of women in the Arab world has improved in recent years, women continue to lag behind men in human, social and political rights.  Through trainings and peer-to-peer networking, AWLI will connect aspiring leaders to their counterparts in other Arab countries and help them gain leadership, advocacy, management and governance skills enabling them to compete for leadership positions within their communities.

AWLI will be supported by an advisory council whose members include:

Chair: Tami Longaberger, United States Chair and Chief Executive Officer of The Longaberger Company and the former chair of the National Women’s Business Council, a bipartisan U.S. advisory council advising the President of the United States, Congress, and the U.S. Small Business Administration on economic issues for small female-run businesses.  Longaberger also served as a member of the U.S. delegation to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights held in Geneva, Switzerland in 2004.

Dr. Eman Alhussein, Jordan A professor of Education at Albalqa`a Applied University, Dr. Hussein also served as a councilor for the Greater Salt Municipality from 2003-2007.   As head of the Amman branch of the Jordanian National Forum for Women, she was active in encouraging women to run for elected office at the municipal and parliamentary levels.

Nehad Abul Komsan, Egypt A practicing lawyer and member of the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, Ms. Abul Komsan is also the Chair of the Board for the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights, an organization founded in 1996 that promotes women’s involvement in political and public life.  An experienced trainer, she is also a consultant for the Global Fund for Women.

Sundus Abbas, Iraq The Executive Director of AWLI in Baghdad, an organization that helps build the capacity of Iraqi women to become involved in the political process.  Dr. Abbas also regularly contributes to Iraq’s main daily newspapers and other media outlets pressing to further women’s rights in Iraq and has worked to the build the capacity of Iraqi civil society organizations to take part in national reconciliation efforts.

Dr. Wajeeha Sadiq Al-Baharna, Bahrain President of the Bahrain Women’s Society, which seeks to expand the role of women in the public sphere in Bahrain.  She also serves as Vice President of the Innovation Cultural and Social Society and is a member of the Arab Thought Forum of Jordan and the World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations.

AWLI is funded through a grant from the National Endowment for Democracy.

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