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Jan 31, 2014 at 03:58 PM

Guest Speakers:

Partial List of Expert panel presenters:

The program will include violin performance.

As the Middle East goes through unprecedented change, the role of women in peacemaking is becoming more visible. The struggle of women in Egypt for basic rights, women fighting in Syria for liberty and survival, and the struggle of women in Iran for essential human freedoms are intertwined. Such open rebellion against injustice, unknown or thought impossible just a few years ago, is now forever etched in Middle Eastern psyche.
These women are Muslims, Christians, Jews, Bahai, non-religious. Some are very political. Others are apolitical. A common bond unites them: they are all concerned about the future role of women and rightfully view it as the most important prerequisite to stopping the extremism now engulfing the  Middle East.

About the Speakers and what they will speak about:

  • Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee, a Senior Member of the House Judiciary and Homeland Security Committees. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee is an influential and forceful voice in Washington.  She is serving her tenth term (20 years) as a member of the United States House of Representatives.   Website and Bio
  • Senator Sandy Pappas, President of the Minnesota Senate, Founder of Forward Global Women and Vice President of the Women Legislators’ Lobby, a program of Women’s Action for New Directions. Throughout her legislative career, Senator Pappas has been a fervent and long-standing advocate for human rights. She has fought tirelessly for women, children and other vulnerable groups.  Website and Bio

Senator Pappas will share her personal motivation for her work on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) through two organizations – both centered on  UN Security Resolution 1325.  In 2011 Senator Pappas began convening women leaders  from the middle east, beginning with  Jordan, Israel and the USA to build relationships and improve their leadership skills.   Forward Global Women was established in 2012 and continued that work with additional women leaders from Palestine and Morocco with a focus on conflict resolution training.  In 2014, the next convening will take a sharper focus on implementation of UN Security Resolution 1325 and expand to include women from Egypt and Tunisia.
On a parallel track, Pappas is Vice President of the Women Legislators Lobby (WiLL), a program of Womens Action for New Directions (WAND).  Her WPS work includes exchanges with women parliamentarians from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Morocco, Tunisia, the USA and LIbya.  In the US, she advocates through their 50 state network of women legislators for the US National Action Plan to be passed by Congress.   

  • Antonia Felix is the New York Times bestselling author of 16 books, including several political biographies, most recently Sonia Sotomayor: The True American Dream (Berkley/Penguin USA). Her previous biographies include Condi: The Condoleezza Rice Story, Wesley K. Clark: A Biography, and Christie Todd Whitman. A popular speaker on women in politics, she has lectured at the Dole Institute of Politics and Columbia Monmouth Women’s Conference, among many others, and appeared on CNN, CNN International, MSNBC, NPR, BBC, SkyNews, FoxNews Channel, and SiriusXM. Ms. Felix is an adjunct professor at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota.  Website

She will speak about: “The Far-reaching Impact of Women Leaders”: From America’s Supreme Court justices to women heads of state around the world, women leaders have an impact that goes far beyond their professional expertise on the job. These highly visible women represent the importance of gender equality in government systems. They inspire new generations of women to take on the challenge of political work. And they prove that when a woman is involved in a closed-door policy or lawmaking meeting, the critical issues facing women and children have a voice at the table. High-profile women leaders are beacons of hope and possibility for women’s leadership to develop throughout the world.

  • Donna Hughes, Professor & Eleanor M. and Oscar M. Carlson Endowed Chair of Women’s Studies at Rhode Island University. She is a leading international researcher on human trafficking. She has completed research on the trafficking of women and girls for sexual exploitation in the United States, Russia, Ukraine, and Korea. She does research and writing on women’s rights. Her topic areas include: violence, slavery, sexual exploitation, Islamic fundamentalism, and women’s organized resistance to violence and exploitation. Website and Bio
  • Frances Belisle, Professor of the Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Program at the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs, Virginia Commonwealth University.  Belisle is a former Foreign Service officer who served in Montreal, Canada; Ankara, Turkey and Algiers, Algeria. She is a former Air Force officer, stationed in Misawa, Japan, and is an active member of the Virginia State Bar and a practicing attorney and consultant in Chesterfield, Va. Website and Bio

She will speak about:  “The Negative Effect of The Arab Spring on Women’s Rights in the Maghreb”

  • The power vacuum caused by the Arab Spring has allowed previously outlawed Islamic Fundamentalist groups to gain power.
  • The rise in Islamic Fundamentalist groups, (Salafist groups) PAS have significantly curtailed the progress of women’s rights in the Maghreb region
  • Tunisian Women have lost some of the advances made during the Bourguiba years
  • Moroccan women have seen a rise in the Salafist threat since the PAS
  • Libyan women have a pessimistic view of their future PAS

 Eventbrite - Women in Leadership: Litmus Test for Democracy in the Middle East & Iran

or RSVP via email: rsvp@womenfreedomforum.com  by February 20, 2014

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