Highlights from the 4th Global Women’s Convening

 August 2-7, 2015

The Woman’s Club of Minneapolis, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Women’s Challenges for Security, Peace, Rights and Equality ​in the Middle East: Reducing Vulnerability and Building Resilience 

  • Keynote speech by Manal Omar, Vice President for the MENA region, U.S. Institute for Peace at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota
  • Participants as Presenters: Teams from Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and the USA gave presentations on country updates, religion and politics in the MENA region, women and security, women and leadership, success stories and action planning.
  • Introductory comments by Congresswoman Betty McCollum at From MENA to Minnesota: A Community Conversations
  • Returning convenor, Sussan Tahmasebi from iCAN, International Civic Action Network
  • Talia Sasson, President of the New Israel Fund and a convening participant was asked to speak at three other venues while in Minnesota. She prominently thanked FGW for bringing her to Minnesota
  • Return of the Palestinian team leader, Dr. Lily Feidy along with a new young Palestinian leader
  • Strong support from the Minneapolis/St. Paul Community with hosting families, transportation, co-sponsoring and attending public events
  • Donated venues: Minneapolis Women’s Club, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Minnesota Historical Society
  • All Forward Global Women board members participated as convening participants, hosting a meal, hosting a guest, providing transportation, photography
  • An exciting new Action Plan was created: 1,000 Israeli women will meet with 1,000 Palestinian women to demand a restart of the peace process and that their leaders include women at the peace negotiation table. Other solidarity events will be coordinated in MENA nations and through the U.S.
  • The 2016 Convening will take place in Cyprus.

Keynote Speaker Manal Omar

Manal OmarManal Omar is the acting vice president for the Middle East and Africa Center at the United States Institute for Peace. Previously, she was the Regional Program Manager for the Middle East for Oxfam – Great Britain, where she responded to humanitarian crises in Palestine and Lebenon, and supported work in Yemen, Iraq, and Egypt. She also previously served as the Regional Coordinator for Afghanistan, Iraq, and Sudan with Women for Women International.

​She was named among Top 500 World’s Most Influential Arabs by Arabia Business Power in 2011 and 2012, and among the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World by Georgetown University and The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre in 2009. In 2007, Islamic Magazine named her one of the ten young visionaries shaping Islam in America.

Barefoot in BaghdadMs. Omar is the author of Barefoot in Baghdad, a riveting story of hope and despair, of elation and longing that takes readers to the front lines of a different kind of battle, where the unsung freedom fighters are strong, vibrant—and female.

An American aid worker of Arab descent, Manal Omar moves to Iraq to help as many women as she can rebuild their lives. She quickly finds herself drawn into the saga of a people determined to rise from the ashes of war and sanctions and rebuild their lives in the face of crushing chaos. This is a chronicle of Omar’s friendships with several Iraqis whose lives are crumbling before her eyes. It is a tale of love, as her relationship with one Iraqi man intensifies in a country in turmoil. And it is the heartrending stories of the women of Iraq, as they grapple with what it means to be female in a homeland you no longer recognize.

“Manal Omar captures the complex reality of living and working in war-torn Iraq, a reality that tells the story of love and hope in the midst of bombs and explosions.”—Zainab Salbi, founder and CEO of Women for Women International, and author (with Laurie Becklund) of the national bestselling book Between Two Worlds: Escape from Tyranny: Growing Up in the Shadow of Saddam

“A fascinating, honest, and inspiring portrait of a women’s rights activist in Iraq, struggling to help local women while exploring her own identity. Manal Omar is a skilled guide into Iraq, as she understands the region, speaks Arabic, and wears the veil. At turns funny and tragic, she carries a powerful message for women, and delivers it through beautiful storytelling.”—Christina Asquith, author of Sisters in War: A Story of Love, Family and Survival in the New Iraq

“At turns funny and tragic…a powerful message for women, [delivered] through beautiful storytelling.”—Christina Asquith, author of Sisters in War

From MENA to Minnesota

Public event: Community Conversation

Wednesday, August 5, 7:00-9:00 pm; 6:30 pm check-in

The Woman’s Club of Minneapolis Ballroom, 410 Oak Grove Street, Minneapolis, MN

Co-sponsors: Congregation Shir Tikvah, World Without Genocide, Office of Minnesota State Senate President Sandy Pappas, and Minnesota International Center.

Open to the public, no reservations necessary. $10 admission. Refreshments will be served.

Join women leaders from Israel, Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco, Palestine, Egypt and the US for a conversation on peace-building and global human rights.

View Photos from the Convening here.

Peace Statements from the convening:

2015 Peace Statements
“Coexistence with the shared understanding that all individuals deserve respect and have the right to live their lives without the fear of violence.”— Pat Davis
“Peace for me is the ability to reach out to people across the boundaries of religion, gender and political orientation. It is an exquisite sense of freedom that gives meaning to life and to what we do as women.”— Fatima Sadiqi

“I think peace is not only the absence of violence or conflict, peace means: respecting Justice, dignity, equality, freedom and living together in harmony and accept differences, making this difference as a source of enrichment. In this way, People can live in peaceful, stable societies.”       — Amira Marzouk

“Peace is tolerance, love and dialogue.”— Fatima Outaleb

“The state of peace materializes when individuals enjoy the same rights and privileges, when human dignity is safeguarded and basic needs provided.”— Anissa Hassouna

“Peace can only be reached after a past management, a conflict prevention and a difference acceptance. Peace is harmony, is sharing, is accepting others’ beliefs, cultures, ideas.”— Loubna Amhair

“Peace is when the population of any community lives without any social or economical violence or conflicts. Regionally and globally speaking it is when the states can resolve conflicts without wars.”— Jihane Abbassi

“I believe this is the FOURTH convening I’m attending both as a participant and fellow founder. Thus, of most importance to me is to meet FACE TO FACE with women who live in my geographical “arena” – the MENA countries. It’s almost a one and only yearly opportunity to converse, discuss, exchange views and opinions, as well as hold conversations of agreement and disagreement related to our issues of the area.To share our values and beliefs, to find out more about each other, to LEARN, to RESPECT and to acknowledge the differences between us, as well as the common grounds, values, beliefs and more, that we might share. Through the above, we should wish to CHANGE THE WORLD we live in. To influence our leaders in our various countries, to offer and suggest CHANGE and to see if we can relate to and carry out our VISION for change, especially for women in our countries. And last but not least, especially during these hard political days in my country where so many PR campaigns are going on….to show that Israel is so much more than what political lobby groups and others try to show her as…To show that not all of us agree with the politics in our country yet we’re the only democracy in the area thus have to respect as well as oppose our leaders when needed and necessary…in short— to bring to the convening different VOICES and share with our sisters in the area our agendas as well.”— Rina Bar Tal

“Peace is a state of balance and understanding, where respect is gained by the acceptance of differences regardless of religion, culture, tolerance persists, conflicts are solved through dialogue, people’s rights are respected and their voices are heard and everyone is at their highest point of serenity without social tension.”— Amal Haddadin

“My concept of a comprehensive peace includes various aspects: it begins with a social and personal security, freedom, and the possibilities to realize and fulfill the potential in the region in which we live. The reality of peace, for me, is no violent conflict but partnership and relations between two sides, the ability to resolve any dispute which may arise by negotiation rather than force and coercion. The starting point is the acceptance and avoidance of any violence and oppression bulging a reality where security does not depend on military force.”— Orit Zuaretz