2023 Convening

2023 Convening

Women of Valor

St. Julian, Malta ~ October 2023

Forward Global Women held its annual international convening in Malta in October 2023, marking its 10th anniversary. In recognition of this milestone, we chose to spotlight distinguished Women of Valor from the MENA region, women who bravely pushed for change and established rich legacies in the fields of medicine, science, education, human rights and more. Over the course of several days, we learned the stories of these women and the impact they had on their countries and the world. For those Women of Valor who were able to attend, we heard from them directly and were able to engage in a dialogue with them about their lives and work.

Topics & Circumstances

The Women of Valor we honored in the 2023 convening were:

  • Dr. Judith Abrahami, Israeli educator and social activist/expert on gender equality and anti-ageism
  • Huda Abu Arquob, Palestinian peace activist, speaker and NGO field operative
  • Shireen Abu Akleh, Palestinian journalist who spent 25 years reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
  • Dr. Tawhida Ben Cheikh, Tunisian physician and pioneer in women’s health care and contraception
  • Aicha Chenna, Moroccan social worker and women’s rights advocate who changed how society treats single mothers and victims of abuse
  • Judy Heumann, US and international disability rights activist, considered the mother of the movement
  • Dr. Orit Kamir, Israeli activist responsible for passage of Israel’s sexual harassment laws
  • Dr. Ellen Kennedy, US human rights activist and founder of World Without Genocide
  • Asma Khader, Jordanian lawyer and advocate for the rights of women and girls
  • Jehan Sadat, former first lady of Egypt and author of Jehan’s laws to protect the rights of women in divorce
We also dedicated a day of the convening to professional development, working with acclaimed communications expert and media trainer Nancy Mathis, President of First Take Communication based in Washington, DC.
Though we tried our best to proceed with our convening agenda, the reality is that those of us in attendance found ourselves united in shock and despair. Approximately one week before our event, Hamas attacked Israel which then declared war, raising the level of violence in the region to a devastating degree and resulting in the death of countless civilians on both sides. As a result, about half of our participants could not attend the convening. Not only was it impossible for our Israeli and Palestinian teams to travel, but they and their families were in great danger and sheltering from rocket attacks during this time. Though we were able to talk to Board members from both countries for a few minutes via Zoom, we very much felt their absence and feared for their safety. It is clear that the lives of those in Israel and Palestine, especially Gaza, have been forever changed by this dramatic escalation of the conflict.
Months later with the war still raging on, one thing is certain – the quest for a sustainable peace and the need for women to be fully included and engaged in the peace process has never been more critical.

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