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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University November 29, 2004 | Vol. 34 No. 13
SAIS Center Receives Grant for Leadership Training of Iraqi Women

By Felisa Klubes

The U.S. State Department has awarded SAIS's Protection Project a 15-month grant to establish a women's leadership development program in postwar Iraq.

Launched on Sept. 1, the program, Preparing Iraqi Women as Leaders, Advocates and Participants in the Political Process, aims to prepare Iraqi women for leadership roles by first informing them about their rights and then giving them the tools and skills to become politically active.

The program underscores the U.S. government's interest in the equal participation of women in the region," said Mohamed Mattar, co-director of the Protection Project. "Activities reflect the understanding that women's participation is crucial to a successful and fair democratic process in the new Iraq."

The Protection Project currently coordinates with Iraqi nongovernmental organizations to promote women's rights in the educational and legal systems and in the media. Staff members are collecting and translating into Arabic various documents pertaining to human rights, including comparative Middle East constitutions, international conventions and covenants on women's rights. The project also is researching and developing school curricula incorporating women's issues, organizing workshops and training seminars, and creating contact databases throughout the Middle East to promote collaboration.

Mattar and colleague Ashraf Faramawi will travel to Baghdad for two weeks in December to conduct the first of a series of training sessions targeted to a variety of constituencies, including Iraqi human rights and women's rights NGOs, local women's groups, female university professors and female secondary school teachers and students, as well as university and school administrators. Topics to be covered will range from democracy and elections to advocacy and effective leadership.

The Protection Project also will conduct training, community forums and workshops for local women to learn about their rights and voting procedures in upcoming elections.

Based since 1999 at SAIS's Foreign Policy Institute, the Protection Project is a human rights research institute established in 1994 to address the issue of trafficking in persons as a human rights violation. The project also focuses on promoting universal human rights values throughout the world through academic research and by conducting training, exchanges and fellowship programs.


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