Bernice Behrens Founder’s Award to AWIU Grant Program Chair

AWIU is pleased to announce that the Bernice Behrens Founder’s Award will be presented to Marsha Niazmand at the 2018 International Women in Courage Celebration in Los Angeles. Created in 2003, this award is given to an AWIU member, who through extraordinary efforts, has furthered the mission of the organization. Marsha Niazmand is being honored for her dedicated work on reshaping AWIU Grant program to be a vibrant, internationally-focused source of microgrants for women across the globe.

Marsha joined AWIU in 2004 and became an active member in the Chicago chapter.  She participated in AWIU’s delegation to Japan. In 2011, Marsha joined the AWIU Board and, a year later, she began working on the Grant Committee. Under Marsha’s leadership, the AWIU Grant Program changed its focus from supporting US- based program to supporting “in country” grants to grassroots groups of women from developing countries. In 2017, the AWIU Grant Program supported 17 organizations, from Afghanistan to Nicaragua to Tanzania in addition to the 13 US Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage. The AWIU Grant Program is supported by the Sponsors and Patrons of the International Women of Courage Celebration.

To read more about the AWIU Grant Program, click here. 

AWIU grantees in Uganda purchased sewing machine for their collective with a microgrant.

“It’s been very gratifying to reshape AWIU’s grant model from one which provided a small number of grants to one or two individuals annually to one which enables grassroots women’s groups in developing countries to pursue programs which are relevant to them,” Marsha says about her work on the AWIU Grant Program. “In the course of doing, this I’ve learned so much about the conditions women experience throughout the world. In addition to enabling them to improve their lives, I hope it also gives them a sense of sisterhood with American women and presents them with an impression of the United States as a generous and enabling nation.”

Marsha earned her BS from Penn State and her MSW from the University of Chicago.  She spent her career as a social worker for the Chicago Board of Education. She retired in 2007 and now devotes much of her time to volunteer,  from AWIU and beyond. She is the board of the Southeast Evanston Association, the Irving Park Food Pantry, and the Community Animal Rescue Effort, and am active as a foot soldier with the Democratic Party of Evanston, and First United Methodist Church of Evanston.

Marsha Niazmand will be in Los Angeles to receive the award at AWIU’s  International Women of Courage Celebration on March 29, 2018.

To read about AWIU’s 2018 Internationalism Award honoree, click here.

To become a Patron of the 2018 International Women of Courage Celebration, click here.

 

 

AWIU Announces Diplomatic Courier’s Ana Rold as 2018 Internationalism Award Honoree.

The American Women for International Understanding is honored to announce that the 2018 Internationalism Award recipient is Ana C. Rold, the founder and publisher of Diplomatic Courier, a global affairs media network. Ms. Rold is also an advocate for women’s global issues and a mentor to women leaders at home and abroad. The AWIU Internationalism Award is presented to individuals who have addressed concerns and issues facing women worldwide. The commitment and work of the individuals have set them apart by every standard. Recipients have exhibited international support for women’s issues and contributed to worldwide understanding, raised awareness of global concerns, and fostered and encouraged cross-cultural dialogue. AWIU will present the Internationalism Award at the International Women of Courage Celebration in Los Angeles on March 29, 2018.  

Ms. Rold is the Founder and Publisher of Diplomatic Courier, the flagship media network and magazine for top diplomats in Washington, DC, New York, Brussels and Geneva. Digitally, Diplomatic Courier’s network spans 180 countries and 3.6 million readers.

Rold is also the Founder of Medauras Global LLC, a global communications firm for “The Connected Generation.” Medauras specializes in custom publications for organizations and institutions that are focused on a multitude of strategic concepts of national and global importance.

In 2012, Rold founded the global futuristic think tank, The World in 2050. The think tank has convened over 3000 multi-stakeholders in the private and public sectors, partners and futurists, through a series of global summits and forums, research papers and reports, and digital and print media, to stimulate discussion and solutions on seven megatrends, including infrastructure, jobs, transportation, food security, health, wealth, and future cities.

Since 2009 Rold has served as the Editor-in-Chief of the annual leadership publications of the G7 Summit (formerly the G8), the G20 and B20 Summits, and APEC Summit.  She covered and managed the editorial production of these publications for the summits in Italy, Canada, South Korea, the United States, France, as well as the G8 and NATO in the United States, the G20 in Mexico, and the APEC Summit in Russia.

In tandem with her publishing and editorial work, Rold has taught Comparative Politics and Political Science at Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies since 2006.  At Northeastern, she has also served as Director of the Cyprus Program and co-Director for the Egypt Program for Northeastern’s Dialogue of Civilizations Initiative.

Prior to starting her career in international diplomacy and communications, Rold worked for the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the UN Foundation (UNF), and the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP).

Rold received a Master’s in International Peace and Conflict Resolution, with a focus on Alternative Dispute Resolution at American University and a Bachelor’s Degree in International Affairs at Northeastern University.  She speaks five languages.

Her advocacy and mentorship on behalf of women and women’s global issues extend around the globe.

In 2012, Ms. Rold was invited to serve as a Mentor for the inaugural cohort of women fellows of Mrs. Laura Bush’s Women’s Initiative at the George W. Bush Presidential Center and the George W. Bush Institute. The leadership program engages women around the world, with an initial focus on women from Egypt, focusing on helping the women develop leadership skills, exchange techniques, ideas, and expertise, and provide effective tools to empower women in the Middle East to be a force for change. The year-long program began in Dallas, and included visits and meetings in New York, Washington, DC and California’s Silicon Valley. Ms. Rold served in the program for one year as a mentor to a young woman from Egypt. In 2015, Ms. Rold interviewed Mrs. Laura Bush for the Diplomatic Courier magazine, where they candidly discussed the Women’s Initiative and the impact of the Fellowship for Women’s empowerment in the Middle East. Ms. Rold received a thank-you letter from President Bush and Mrs. Bush for her service on the program.

In addition, Ms. Rold has served as a Member of Women’s Democracy Network Advisory Council, chaired by Mrs. Cindy McCain, since 2011. The Council plays a vital role in galvanizing women to forge new paths to political leadership. Since its founding in 2006, WDN empowers women in more than 60 countries to participate in the political process and helps them gain the skills needed to take on greater leadership roles in government, political parties, and civil society. Ms. Rold has served on the Council by providing her expertise in convening and advising women leaders from around the world in media training and leadership skills.

As part of her position at WDN, in 2012 and 2016 Ms. Rold provided pro-bono services to a group of women leaders from Afghanistan and Pakistan through a program funded by USAID called Pakistan-Afghan Women’s Forum for Peace and Democracy (PAWFPD). Since 2001, militancy and terrorism have grown in Afghanistan and Pakistan destabilizing all socio-political and economic efforts at bringing stability and prosperity to both countries and the region. A group of women leaders from the policy, media, and private sector came together to discuss powerful women’s voice in effecting peace in the region. Ms. Rold, through her formal background in peace and conflict resolution served as a convener and mediator to the groups’ two meetings—one in Istanbul and one in Dubai. During the meetings, Ms. Rold held a negotiation and mediation skills training for the women. In the 2015 meeting, Ms. Rold served as the editor and publisher of a policy brief that was produced by the women leaders. The Women, Peace and Security Policy Brief was published pro-bono through Ms. Rold’s publishing company to an audience of influencers worldwide.

 Since its founding, Diplomatic Courier magazine has recognized global women that have made significant contributions in their respective fields during International Women’s Month. The magazine has published several dedicated editions to women and girls, including acclaimed editions such as “Empowering Girls in the Digital Age”,  “Feeding the Planet, Empowering Women”, as well as a book on “Engaging Women in Kapisa Province”, a study conducted by Social Scientist of the U.S. Department of Human Terrain Systems, Ms. Naheed Vadsaria.

In her leadership capacity at Diplomatic Courier, Ms. Rold has provided pro-bono advertising and sponsorship to women’s health initiatives such as the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. She has hosted a group of First Ladies from Africa for a conference at NASDAQ discussing women’s maternal health (September of 2012), as well as host and moderate a foreign female ambassadors conference in 2010, while she was nine months pregnant. She loves to mentor and regularly host young girls at the National Press Club, such as the next generation of women leaders from Wakefield High School.

Ms. Rold is a member of the National Press Club (NPC), an Advisory Board Member of the Center for Education Diplomacy, and an Advisory Board Member of the Council of Women’s Democracy Network (WDN) in Washington, DC.

American Women for International Understanding looks forward to welcoming Ana Rold to Los Angeles  in March to receive her honor and join us at the International Women of Courage Celebration, highlighting the US Department of State’s 2018 International Women of Courage.

 

Journalist Lisa Ling named Honorary Chair for the International Women of Courage Celebration 2018

American Women for International Understanding is pleased to announce that our Honorary Chair for the International Women of Courage Celebration 2018 is Lisa Ling, an award-winning journalist, author and advocate for women. Ms. Ling will join a list of other distinguished women on the Honorary Committee offering their support to AWIU’s Celebration in the spring of 2018. The exact date of the International Women of Courage Celebration will be determined by the US Department of State in early February 2018, but our committee is honored to work with Ms. Ling as we plan our event.

Lisa Ling recently wrapped her fourth season the CNN Original Series, “This is Life with Lisa Ling.” In each episode, she immerses herself in communities that are unusual, extraordinary and sometimes dangerous, giving viewers an inside look at some of America’s most unconventional segments of society and some of its most important issues. In 2017, the series won a Gracie Award for Excellence in Media.

Ling is also the host of the new CNN digital series, “This is Sex with Lisa Ling,” where she explores the taboos around sex in America and the ways in which sexuality has been stigmatized, policed and politicized.

Before coming to CNN, Ling was a field correspondent for “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and contributor to ABC News’ “Nightline” and National Geographic’s “Explorer.” She has reported from dozens of countries, covering stories about gang rape in the Congo, bride burning in India and the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, among other issues that are too often ignored.

Ling got her start in journalism as a correspondent for Channel One News where she covered the civil war in Afghanistan at 21 years of age.  She later went on to become a co-host of ABC Daytime’s hit show “The View,” which won its first daytime Emmy during her time at the show. Ling has also served as a special correspondent for CNN’s “Planet in Peril” series and is a contributing editor for USA Today’s USA Weekend magazine. In 2011, her acclaimed documentary journalism series, “Our America with Lisa Ling,” began airing on OWN.

Ling is the co-author of “Mother, Daughter, Sister, Bride: Rituals of Womanhood” and “Somewhere Inside: One Sister’s Captivity in North Korea and the Other’s Fight to Bring Her Home,” which she penned with her sister, Laura. In 2014, President Obama named Ling to the Commission on White House Fellows.

Ling resides in Los Angeles with her husband, two daughters and father. The International Women of Courage Celebration Committee thanks Ms. Ling for her support of this AWIU event and her advocacy on behalf of women leaders around the world.

Click here to read  Highlights from the 2017 IWOC Celebration

AWIU Announces List of Grant Recipients for 2017

 

2017 GRANT PROGRAM SUMMARY 

AWIU awards grants focused on training and empowering women and girls throughout the globe. Each year individual grants are given to the U.S. Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage, whose bios can be viewed at www.awiu.org.  AWIU grants enable these remarkable women to continue their work in their respective countries. AWIU also awards grants to organizations in remote areas of the world. What makes AWIU’s grants unique is that the majority of our grants are given directly to grassroots organizations in the form of micro-grants, filling an important niche by providing much needed funds to organizations considered too small by large foundations.  AWIU also partners with other organizations with established projects for a greater impact. 

Many thanks to our sponsors and supporters of the International Women of Courage Celebration that make these grants possible. 

2017 US SECRETARY OF STATE’S INTERNATIONAL WOMEN OF COURAGE

Malebogo Malefhe, Bostswana

Maj. Aichatou I. Ousmane, Niger

Zhanna Nemtsova, Russia

Sister Carolin Tahhan Fachakh, Syria

Natalia Ponce de Leon, Colombia

Vernoica Simogun,             Papua New Guinea

Saadet Ozkan, Turkey

Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, Vietnam

Rebecca Kabugho, Democratic Republic of Congo

Cindy A. Contreras Bautista, Peru

Fadia Najib Thabet,  Yemen

Jannat Al Ghezi, Iraq

Fatimata M’baye, Mauritania

Sandya Eknelygoda, Sri Lanka

Dr. Nihal Naj Ali Al-Awiaqi, Yemen

 

2017 AWIU REPRESENTATIVE LIST OF GRANT RECIPIENTS

AFGHANISTAN:

KHADIJA KUBRA WOMEN’S ASSOCIATION FOR CULTURE – Kandahar

English /Computer Classes to provide education and career advancement

INDIA:

HOPE, Human Organisation for Peoples Enlightenment

Child Survival and Safe Motherhood Program

FRIENDLY WATERS

Training on the use of bio-sand filters to sanitize water

RPDS, Rural People Development Society

Trade skills training program for vulnerable young girls and women

KENYA:

FRUITS OF HOPE

Constructing sinking wells to improve hygiene 

PDI, Participatory Development Initiative

Providing “power porridge” to malnourished women and child victims of HIV and TB

LIBERIA:

WSD, Women Solidarity and Development

Empowerment of Ebola women and caretakers of Ebola orphans to end poverty through skill training

MEXICO:

MELEL XOJOBAL – CHIAPAS (Year 2)

Program to help girls obtain birth certificates, without which they have no legal rights to healthcare and education

NICARAGUA:

THE LILY PROJECT

Providing screening for cervical cancer

PAKISTAN:

AWARE

Programs focused on stopping violence against women

 REPUBLIC OF KOSOVO:

CITIES OF PEACE

Art project aimed at reducing religious extremism through engaging marginalized youth in a creative, interactive art initiative
TANZANIA:

NYAMETE WOMEN AND DEVELOPMENT (Year 2)

Poultry keeping training and loan facility for women

UGANDA:

BAWONIFA, Banda Women Initiative

Tree planting project to prevent soil erosion and maintain biodiversity whilst improving living conditions and farming initiatives

UAOWF, United African Orphans and Widows

Training women to make and distribute reusable sanitary pads

International Women of Courage Celebration 2017: Compassion, Resilience and Bravery

 

At the 10th Annual International Women of Courage Celebration, Ms. Fadia Najib Thabet of Yemen, an activist working to reintegrate former child soldiers of Al Qaeda and Houthi militias into society, brought the crowd to their collective feet when she declared, “The women sitting in front of you have all fought. We have chosen to tell our stories with compassion, resilience and bravery. To all the women here, you are part of our journey and fight. Each of us has a mission to accomplish. We still have a lot to do. But this time I am not going to walk alone. We will walk side by side. Holding each other’s hands. We are feminists, we are powerful, we are intelligent and we are a movement.”

Her stirring speech was one of the highlights of this year’s International Women of Courage Celebration hosted by the American Women for International Understanding (AWIU) held April 6, 2017 at the Jonathan Club in downtown Los Angeles to a sold-out crowd of 280. This year marked the second time the AWIU event was held in Southern California in collaboration with the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues and the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, and the International Visitors Council Los Angeles. The standing ovation underscored the warm, supportive and electric atmosphere of the evening as AWIU honored 13 International Women of Courage (IWOCs), 10 in attendance, for their work against gender-based violence, government corruption and the effects of long-term war on women and children.

Fellow IWOC honoree, Ms. Rebecca Kabugho from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, recognized for her key role in a series of peaceful protests demanding that the Congolese government hold credible elections, reiterated Ms. Thabet’s sentiments. She spoke about the strong bond the 2017 IWOCs shared and how that sisterhood was an invaluable tool for moving forward in their work. Speaking about her hopes for the future of her country, Ms. Kabugho said, I hope that all the women who are here will fight to change their countries. We can change the Congo. We can change the world. Without us, it will not be done. Hand in hand, we will make the world a better place.”

 See the complete list of 2017 Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage here.

The International Women of Courage Award was established by the U.S. Department of State in 2007 to honor women who demonstrate exceptional courage in making a substantial difference in the lives of others around the globe. Honorees traveled to the United States for an award ceremony at the U.S.Department of State in Washington, D.C. in late March and then traveled individually to different states on an International Visitors Leadership Program. At the end of their visit to the United States, the IWOCs then reconvened in Los Angeles for a debriefing, a panel presentation and the AWIU IWOC Celebration.

On hand from the U.S. Department of State to introduce the International Women of Courage was Ms. Betty Bernstein-Zazba, Senior Advisor and Director of Operations in the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues. “Each woman’s story is an inspiring reminder of how individuals can make a difference. Taken together, they provide a powerful message of courage and leadership. Women can make a difference in promoting greater peace, economic growth, and progress.” Joining Ms. Bernstein-Zabza was her colleague from the U.S. Department of State, Ms. Stacy White, the Director of the Office of International Visitors in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Other highlights of the night included the presentation of AWIU’s Internationalism Award to Ms. Anita DeFrantz, the first American woman and the first African American to be named to the International Olympic Committee. Ms. DeFrantz was honored for her lifetime of work to increase opportunities for women around the globe through sports and for her advocacy against slavery. Ms. DeFrantz could not be at the event because she was travelling in support of the LA2024 Olympic Bid, but in a video she expressed her thanks to AWIU and her admiration for all the International Women of Courage, adding, “You lift me up.”

 

The Bernice Behrens Founders Award was given to Diane McGlinchey by AWIU president Carol Robertson Lopez. Diane McGlinchey has been a dedicated member of AWIU for over a decade, serving in almost every role including President. Her commitment to the work of AWIU flows from a lifetime spent in service to fellow women and to her country. She thanked fellow AWIU members for their service and their friendship, adding, “Let us move forward knowing that the collective power of women—well organized, passionate and respectful—is unstoppable.”

        Honorary Chairwoman Mellody Hobson of Ariel Investments, also sent a video, addressing the IWOCs directly saying, “Your stories of grit, determination, perseverance and courage are reminders to all women that with a measure of bravery, you can change the world. And they are stories that need to be told.”

             As part of AWIU’s mission to build bridges of international understand and support women’s causes, the organization provided each honoree with a grant. In honor of AWIU’s 50th anniversary year, the grants for 2017 International Women of Courage were our largest ever, as a sign of the organization’s half-century commitment to of improving the lives of women all over the globe. Event Chair Maggie Sabbag thanked all the guests for their vital support, “We are deeply grateful to our sponsors and patrons. Because of their generosity, AWIU awards each woman a monetary grant to continue her good work and make a positive difference in our world. Many thanks for supporting the Celebration and all the good that flows from it.”

The event was made possible through the support of sponsors committed to global issues, including a number of AWIU members. A special thanks to Madvi Raya for committing at the Freedom & Equality Level and members Nancy Annick, Martha A. Atherton, Susan Chandler, Carole Lewis, Onma Lwin, Cynthy Moffatt, Maggie Sabbag and Jane Mursener Wetzel for contributing at the Empowerment through Education level.

Deloitte was the presenting sponsor for the seventh consecutive year and provided volunteers to staff the event. Other sponsors included Ariel Investments; LA2024; Nestle; Wells Fargo; The Walt Disney Company; CBRE; UCLA Anderson School of Management; and US News & World Report.

 

   AWIU member and Mistress of Ceremonies Cynthy Moffatt said afterwards,From start to finish, the evening was charged with enthusiasm, passion and admiration for the International Women of Courage. The guests loved being able to interact with the honorees one-on-one and hear their stories and personal messages firsthand. The experience was eye-opening for so many of us and incredibly moving and inspiring. I think the sustained standing ovation all received at the conclusion of the program really touched the honorees.”

 Photos by Dana Bouton of dpb photography

 

 

About the American Women for International Understanding

American Women for International Understanding promotes woman-to-woman interaction and understanding worldwide through delegations, grants, educational programs and the International Women of Courage Celebration. For ore information, please click here. 

 

 

 

 

 

2017 International Women of Courage Honored in DC, En Route to LA

On March 29th, First Lady Melania Trump and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas A. Shannon presented the 2017 Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage (IWOC) Award to a group of extraordinary women from around the world on March 29 at the State Department.  “It was be my great honor to share a stage with these amazing women.  Each of the award recipients has overcome incredible odds in her pursuit to change the world and make it better,” said First Lady Melania Trump. “As women, we must continue to stand together with the steadfast goal of making our world safer through acts of collaborative and individual bravery.  As we all know, wherever women are diminished, the entire world is diminished with them.” Many of the women honored this year are advocates for victims of gender-based violence.

AWIU guest Karen Chevelier of US News & World Report and the IWOC from Sri Lanka

For a complete list of the International Women of Courage who will be honored at the AWIU 10th Annual International Women of Courage Celebration, please click here.  

For the full text of the IWOC Awards Ceremony and a video of the presentation including the First Lady’s remarks, please click here. You will be taken to the US Department of State website. 

AWIU President Carol Robertson Lopez (right) enjoying the reception at the State Departmen

AWIU’s Mary Schammel and Maggie Sabbag with Danial Martinez of the Department of State.

A contingent of American Women for International Understanding members and guests were at the State Department for the ceremony. Attending the event from AWIU: Jing Boa; Carolyn Johnson; Linda Kukler; Diane McGlinchey; Cynthy Moffatt; Gayle Graham Morin; Marsha Anderson- Niazmand; Barbara Rubio; Maggie Sabbag; Mary Schammel, Louise Simone Schoene; Maria Schory; Laura Schuldt and Ann Tonks. Invited guests included IWOC Celebration Honorary Committee members Ambassador Tatiana Gfoeller and Karen Chevalier of US News & World Reports. Mary Schammel, an AWIU member and IWOC Celebration Liaison to the Department of State said, “It was a wonderful and inspiring day.”

 

 

 

AWIU looks forward to welcoming the the 2017 International Women of Courage to our tenth annual Celebration in Los Angeles on April 6th at the Jonathan Club in downtown Los Angeles. The Honorary Chair is Mellody Hobson, President of Ariel Investments and an advocate for women, the arts and education. We are pleased to announce that all the International Women of Courage will be introduced by Betty Bernstein-Zabza, Senior Advisor and Director Office of Global Women’s Issues, United States Department of State.  AWIU will also honor Anita DeFrantz, an Executive Board member of the International Olympic Committee and an advocate for gender equality and parity in global sports. Ms. DeFrantz is also being honored for her work to end slavery around the world.

For more information about the AWIU Grants Program, please click here and here

AWIU members at a dinner with Congressman Royce at the National Press Club

 

 

 

 

AWIU Announces Anita DeFrantz as Internationalism Award Honoree

The American Women for International Understanding is honored to announce that the 2017 Internationalism Award recipient is Anita DeFrantz, an Olympian and member of the International Olympic Committee who is an advocate for equality and opportunity for women through sports, both in the United States and across the globe. The AWIU Internationalism Award is presented to individuals who have addressed concerns and issues facing women worldwide. The commitment and work of the individuals have set them apart by every standard. Recipients have exhibited international support for women’s issues and contributed to worldwide understanding, raised awareness of global concerns, and fostered and encouraged cross-cultural dialogue. AWIU will present the Internationalism Award at the International Women of Courage Celebration in Los Angeles on April 6, 2017. 

Anita-DeFrantzMs. DeFrantz is a member of the International Olympic Committee and the IOC Executive Board. She serves on the Juridical Commission of the IOC, which is made up of lawyers, and on the Finance Commission, which reviews the investments and spending plans.

Before she joined the ranks of the IOC, DeFrantz captained the U.S. women’s rowing team and rowed in the eight that won a bronze medal at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games. DeFrantz served as Vice President of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee and was elected to IOC membership in 1986, making her not only the first African-American but also the first American woman to serve on the committee.

In 1987, DeFrantz began her 28-year role stewarding the legacy of 1984 LA Games as president of the LA84 Foundation, which received 40% of the 1984 proceeds. Over the past 30 years, the LA84 Foundation has invested more than $225 million to support more than 2,000 youth sports organizations, and it continues to provide Los Angeles youth with recreation and sports opportunities.

Podium #2In 1992, she was elected a member of the IOC Executive Board. In 1997, she became the organization’s first female vice president, a position she held until 2001. From 1989-1994 she served on the IOC’s Summer Program Commission, which determines which sports will be included in Olympic competition. In 1995, she became chair of the IOC’s Women and Sports Commission. She is credited with getting women’s softball and soccer added to the Olympic ticket.

Currently, she is president of the Tubman Truth Corp., an organization working to provide liberty and justice for all people trapped in slavery and human trafficking.  She also serves on LA 2024, the Los Angeles bid committee for the 2024Ssummer Olympic Games, as the LA 2024 Senior Adviser for Legacy.

DeFrantz received her B.A. from Connecticut College and a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. She has received numerous honorary degrees and awards for her contributions to international sports, gender equity and creating a level playing field for athletes at home and globally.

For more information about the International Woman of Courage Celebration, please click here

 

AWIU Announces Mellody Hobson as Honorary Chair for IWOC Celebration

American Women for International Understanding is pleased to announce that our Honorary Chair for the International Women of Courage Celebration is Mellody Hobson, president of Ariel Investments and respected advocate for financial literacy and investor education. The International Women of Courage Celebration, an evening honoring female leaders and change-makers from around the globe, will be held on April 6, 2017 in Los Angeles at the Jonathan Club.

Mellody HobsonMellody Hobson is president of Ariel Investments. Headquartered in Chicago, the firm offers six no-load mutual funds for individual investors and defined contribution plans as well as separately managed accounts for institutions and high net worth individuals. As president, Ms. Hobson is responsible for firm-wide management and strategic planning, overseeing all operations outside of research and portfolio management. Additionally, she serves as chairman of the board of trustees for Ariel Investment Trust.

Beyond her work at Ariel, Mellody Hobson has become a nationally recognized voice on financial literacy and investor education. She is a regular contributor and analyst on finance, the markets and economic trends for CBS News. She also contributes weekly money tips on the Tom Joyner Morning Show and pens a regular column for Black Enterprise magazine. As a passionate advocate for investor education, she is a spokesperson for the Ariel/Hewitt Study: 401(k) Plans in Living Color and the Ariel Black Investor Survey, both of which examine investing patterns among minorities.

Ms. Hobson is a director of The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. and Starbucks Corporation. Her community outreach includes serving as chairman of After School Matters, a non-profit that provides Chicago teens with high-quality, out-of-school time programs. She is a board member of The Chicago Public Education Fund, George Lucas Education Foundation, Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, and Sundance Institute, where she has been appointed emeritus trustee. She is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and serves on the executive committee of the Investment Company Institute’s board of governors. In 2015, Ms. Hobson was named to Time Magazine annual list of the one hundred most influential people in the world. Ms. Hobson earned her AB from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of International Relations and Public Policy. She has also received honorary doctorate degrees from Howard University, St. Mary’s College and the University of Southern California.

For more  sponsor and patron information about the International Women of Courage Celebration, please click here

 

AWIU Awards Grants to Six Additional Organizations

On August 31st, the American Women for International Understanding grant committee met to review the six applications which were received between July 1 and August 30th. We were intrigued by the creative and innovative methods which women around the world are using to improve their lives.

Mitooma Women’s Dignity Foundation in UgandaMitooma Women’s Dignity Foundation in Uganda serves women in the Mitooma district of Uganda. This area is very isolated, and challenged by adverse weather (droughts and flooding), limited employment opportunities, and limited access to education. Women are especially impacted as they are completely dependent upon men for all basic needs, and often subject to child marriage. The organization proposed a two year program to train women in piggery rearing so that they may become economically independent. AWIU helped provide $2000 for the purchase of piglets and for the women’s training. For more details, please click here. 

Women Development Welfare Society in India works with the Dalit (or untouchable) population, among the most oppressed group in India. WDWS promotes education as a tool for empowerment for young girls, but among the many obstacles the girls face is the lack of schools within miles of their homes. To enable girls to attend school in areas where there is no public transportation they requested funds from AWIU with which to obtain bicycles. They were given a grant of $2000.

Humane Voluntary Welfare Association, also in India, requested and received from AWIU $1770 with which to purchase sewing machines for a tailoring project which will enable the women to develop an income. This amount will be used to purchase ten sewing machines, training materials, and an instructor’s salary for an eight-month course.

Melel Xojobal in Chiapas,Mexico

During the past year one of our delegations visited Melel Xojobal in Chiapas, Mexico. This is one of the poorest regions in Mexico yet the delegation was impressed by the energy and imagination with which Melel was providing education and support for the women and children of the area. Many are born at home and find it all but impossible to obtain a birth certificate, without which they are unable to achieve the most basic rights. Legally they don’t exist as are therefore unable to register for school or meet basic health needs. AWIU provided Melel with $2000 for a three month program during which the organization will provide information and support for the families of forty girls, ages from birth to seventeen, so that they may obtain birth certificates. For more information, please click here. img_7175-e1473641636763-608x912_c

AWIU has already given two grants to PDI-Kenya in order to train 10-16 year old girls in personal hygiene and to provide them with sanitary supplies. Without the latter a girl often misses a week of school each month. We have also helped the girls with school tuition. In August we heard the director, Sarah Kisaka, further describe the program and the impact it has had on these girls who live in a poor slum of Nairobi. We have now provided an extra $1000 to continue their participation in school.

It has been gratifying to know that providing girls and women around the world with what are often humble and quotidian articles to us, can change their lives and help them to have more fulfilling futures. AWIU is filling a niche in that our grants are accessible to small, grassroots women’s groups in often obscure areas of the world, who would not be considered for a grant by large donors such as the Gates and Ford Foundations but who are comfortable in approaching our group. At this point in 2016 we have provided grants to sixteen grants to women’s groups who might otherwise not have obtained funds with which to further their cause.

For more information on the American Women for International Understanding Grant Program, please click here.

IWOC Celebration 2016: An Electric Evening for the “Sisters of Courage”

IWOC 2016

The 2016 International Women of Courage at the AWIU IWOC Celebration.  From left to right: Mauritania; Sudan; Guatemala; France; Slovakia; Tanzania; Thailand; Iraq; Yemen; Belize.  For complete bios, see link below.

 

“I call on you, my Sisters of Courage, to find five girls to mentor and through these girls, we will build a better world,Vicky Ntetema, an International Women of Courage honoree from Tanzania, challenged her fellow honorees and the audience of 300 at the Jonathan Club in downtown Los Angeles on April 7th. Her stirring speech was one of the highlights of the American Women for International Understanding’s 9th Annual International Women of Courage Celebration. The inspired crowd rose to its feet after Ms. Ntetema, a journalist- turned- human rights advocate, concluded. The standing ovation underscored the warm, supportive and electric atmosphere of the evening.

Vicky Ntetema of Tanzania speaks to the capacity crowd of 300

Vicky Ntetema of Tanzania speaks to the capacity crowd of 300

AWIU member and LA chapter Chair Diane Henry stands to applaud the IWOCs

AWIU member and LA Chapter Chair Diane Henry stands to applaud the IWOCs

This year marked the 9th annual Celebration for American Women for International Understanding and the first time the event was held in Southern California in collaboration with the U.S. Department of State and the International Visitors Council Los Angeles. The International Women of Courage 2016 represented 14 countries with 11 IWOCs in attendance for the Celebration. The women were honored for their advocacy and activism in a broad range of fields supporting women’s issues around the globe, from human rights advocacy to interfaith activism to mental heath support. See their complete bios here.

The International Women of Courage Award was established by the U.S. Department of State in 2007 to honor women who are making a substantial difference in the lives of other women around the globe. Honorees traveled to the U.S. for an award ceremony at the State Department in Washington, DC in late March and then traveled as a group to different states on an International Visitors Leadership Program. The IWOCs ended their stay in the United States in Los Angeles. Catherine Russell, the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for the Secretary of State’s Office of Global Women’s Issues was on hand to introduce each of the women at the Celebration and Deputy Assistant Secretary Karen Richardsonl spoke about the importance of working on women’s empowerment issues in terms of overall global stability.

AWIU President Carol Robertson Lopez presented the Bernice Behrens Founders Award to past President Carole Lewis

AWIU President Carol Robertson Lopez presented the Bernice Behrens Founders Award to past President Carole Lewis

Other highlights of the night included the presentation of the Bernice Behrens Founders Award to former AWIU president Carole Lewis by current president Carol Robertson Lopez. Harriet Fulbright was honored with the Internationalism Award for her commitment to education and the arts. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who created the International Women of Courage awards in 2007, sent a video message to the IWOCs, congratulating the women on their bravery and courage and encouraged them to keep in touch with one another after they returned home and to find other women to mentor. Honorary Chair Lesley Stahl of CBS News, who also sent a video for the event, called the IWOCS “fearless and dauntless” and commented, “It’s important that these women know that we are listening.”

Event Chair Sarah Shelton thanking guests and sponsors fro their support of AWIU and the IWOC grants

Event Chair Sarah Shelton thanking guests and sponsors for their support of AWIU and the IWOC grants

As part of AWIU’s mission to build bridges of international understand and support women’s causes, the organization provided each honoree with a grant. Certificates were awarded on the night of the Celebration. Event Chair Sarah Shelton thanked the guests and sponsors from the stage for their vital support, “It is the privilege of AWIU to award every International Woman of Courage with a monetary grant so that she can return back to her native country and continue her important work.  We believe the difference we make by providing grants to these extraordinary women allows them to make differences that change lives and change the world.”

Emcee Leslie Scwheitzer presents the AWIU Internationalism Award to Harriet Fulbright for her work in arts and international education

Emcee Leslie Scwheitzer presents the AWIU Internationalism Award to Harriet Fulbright for her work in arts and international education

Leslie Schweitzer, an AWIU member and Chairman and President of the Friends of the American University in Afghanistan, emceed the event and said afterwards,AWIU truly does make a difference in addressing women’s issues worldwide.  I am so honored to be part of it year after year.  Traditionally the Celebration has been held in DC and holding it in LA this year was a wonderful change.  There was so much energy in the room and the support for the incredible awardees was extraordinary. ”

AWiu Member Madvi raya and guest celebrate with the IWOCs from Malaysia, Slovakia, Thailand and Belize

AWIW Member Madvi Raya and her guest celebrate with the IWOCs from Malaysia, Slovakia, Mauretania and Belize

The event was made possible through the support of sponsors committed to global issues, including a number of AWIU members. A special thanks to Madvi Raya for committing at the Freedom & Equality Level and members Carole Lewis, Cynthy Moffatt, Margaret Heflin Sabbag and Jane Mursener Wetzel for contributing at the Empowerment through Education level.

Thanks to the Deloitte volunteers that staffed the event from check-in to IWOC escorts

Thanks to the Deloitte volunteers that staffed the event from check-in to IWOC escorts

Deloitte who was the presenting sponsor for the sixth consecutive year and provided volunteers to staff the event. Other sponsors included Nestle; The Walt Disney Company; CBRE; Davidoff Hutcher & Citron; Georgetown University; Friends of the American University in Afghanistan; National Geographic; Providence Foundations; Satellite Sisters; UCLA Anderson School of Management; USC Marshall School of Business; US News & World Report and Wells Fargo.

About the American Women for International Understanding

American Women for International Understanding promotes woman-to-woman interaction and understanding worldwide through delegations, grants, educational programs and the International Women of Courage Celebration.

Photo Gallery

Special Thanks to our photographer Dana Bouton of DPB Photography. 

To access the photographer’s photo gallery for Purchase and Reprint, please click here. 

To access the AWIU Flickr page for IWOC Celebration 2016, please click here. 

 

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