The League of Arab States adopted a regional action plan on women, peace and security in partnership with U.N. Women in October 2015, highlighting the need to empower Arab female leaders to strengthen institutions and help communities address conflict peacefully. On December 5, to mark the Fifth Annual Arab-American Day, the League of Arab States and the U.S. Institute of Peace hosted a discussion with Arab women leaders, academics and policymakers, including the newly-elected Minnesota House Representative and Somali American, Ilhan Omar, on how education and economic opportunities can engage women and men in supporting women’s voices, equality and success.
Social and economic empowerment of women has been shown to strengthen stability and resilience. From the national level to the grassroots, Arab women continue to face and overcome challenges to lead their countries and communities, while empowering one another.
Panelists, including leaders of government and civil society, explored opportunities for the League of Arab States to invest in supporting women’s empowerment for the region’s peace and prosperity. The discussion featured success stories of Arab women leaders breaking barriers, assessed Arab and global initiatives focusing on women, and made recommendations for greater inclusivity.
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Session 1: Empowering Women and Building Resilience
- Nancy Lindborg, President, U.S. Institute of Peace
- Ambassador Inas Mekkawy, Head of Women, Family and Childhood Development, League of Arab States
- Manal Omar, Associate Vice President, Center for Middle East and Africa, U.S. Institute of Peace
- Hibaaq Osman, Founder & CEO, El Karama
- Donald Steinberg, CEO, World Learning
- Moderator: Randa Fahmy, Founder, Fahmy Hudome International
Luncheon and Keynote Address
- Keynote Speaker: Representative Ilhan Omar, Minnesota House Representative for District 60B
- Moderator: Dr. Linda Bishai, Director of North Africa Programs, U.S. Institute of Peace
Session 2: The Up-and-Coming Arab Woman
- Marwa Alkhairo, Manager of Partnership Development, International Youth Foundation
- Asma Ayari, Regional Program Specialist, U.S. Institute of Peace
- Hajar Sharief, Co-Founder, Libya Ma'an Nabneeha
- Moderator: Dr. Kathleen Kuehnast, Senior Gender Advisor, U.S. Institute of Peace
- Dr. Sahar Mohamed Khamis, Professor of Middle East Media and Communications, University of Maryland
- Amy Schedlbauer, Director of the Office of Regional Affairs, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, U.S. Department of State