2013

International Women’s Day

Here are the pictures and stories of women who inspire us to work toward social justice!  You will find photos ranging from famous women who Fletcher students have worked with, to family members who inspire us on a personal level, to phenomenal women who work in both official and unofficial capacities to make life better for their families, communities, and the entire world. The women pictured in the photos range in age, nationality, and religion, and show the diverse nature of the women who inspire us. This exhibit serves to honor those women, and all of the women who work daily to end inequality and injustice in their communities.  Please enjoy below the photos and descriptions!  Thank you to the students and leadership of Global Women for making this exhibit a reality!

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ScreenShot032“Melanne Verveer is the Executive Director of the new Institute for Women, Peace and Security at Georgetown University. She most recently served as the first ever Ambassador-at-Large and Director of the State Department’s office for Global Women’s Issues (2009-2013). In this position, she mobilized concrete support for women’s rights and political and economic empowerment through initiatives and programs designed to increase women’s and girls’ access to education and health care, to combat violence against women and girls in all its forms, and to ensure that women’s rights are fully integrated with human rights in the development of U.S. foreign policy. My mother, Fahimeh Robiolle, and I had the chance to meet her in 2010 when we were trying to launch a capacity-building program dedicated to Afghan women parliamentarians. Thanks to her support, we were able to conduct in 2011 a program in Paris for ten newly elected women Members of the Afghan Parliament. The overall objective of this program was to enhance and promote the political participation of Afghan women and to communicate with the French public and opinion leaders about the efforts underway in Afghanistan and the challenges for women in Afghanistan. This program of training and parliamentary cooperation was designed to be the first step towards the broader initiative that would be extended to all Afghan parliamentarians in Kabul. The ten Afghan women we have worked with are truly inspiring! None of these achievements would have been possible without their courage, Melanne Verveer’s trust in our program, and Fahimeh’s passion and dedication!Tina Robiolle-Moul, PhD Candidate at the Fletcher School

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ScreenShot033“This woman is a sex worker in the small Red Light District of Kidderpore in Kolkata, India. I met her while visiting a field office of an anti-trafficking NGO in 2010. She inspires me because she is striving to provide better opportunities for her children, especially her daughters, so that they never have to work in the sex industry. She sends her children to the NGO’s after-school program focusing on empowering girls through education and the arts.” Kenyon Laing, Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy, 2013

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ScreenShot031Tamila lives in a poor village in Georgia where there are few opportunities for women and where traditional gender roles still dominate. Despite these challenges, she works two jobs in a nearby city to earn enough extra money to send her two daughters to college in Tbilisi. When she comes home, she is responsible for all the household chores as well as farm work, but she does this all with a smile and still finds time to make homemade pastries to fatten up any guests that happen to drop by. Even though any in the country act as if women are the weaker sex, she showed me every day that the opposite was true.” Kelsey L. Olson, Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy, 2014

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ScreenShot032“This is a photo of an inspiring woman I met in Rwanda. This woman does not professionally work for the betterment of mankind. Rather, she is an inspiration because she fights for her own rights and is an example of why women should be considered more strongly within the realm of human rights protection. Mukamuhire is a young mother of three children. With her husband in prison, she is primarily responsible for protecting her three children and tending to household obligations. This past summer when her neighbor allegedly stole her cow (cattle are highly valued in Rwanda), Mukamuhire took action. She traveled for three days by foot with an infant on her back in order to receive free legal advice on how to win her cow back. Mukamuhire is the paragon of a strong woman, and an example of why human rights protection should take special consideration of the specific plights faced by many women.” Mallory Minter, Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy, 2013

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ScreenShot033“These women run the community-based organization Vishwa Mahila Mandal in the economically depressed neighborhood of Bhiwandi, in the city of Thane, just outside of Mumbai, India. Volunteers work with local sex workers to run small handicrafts businesses selling baby clothes and candlesticks, and save the money as a collective to help sex workers. Sex workers are regularly turned away by official banks, but together they have been able to open savings deposit accounts, and to offer small loans to members as needed. Perhaps most importantly, the group also operates a pre-school and daycare center for the children of local sex workers. Many children sleep at the center in order to avoid being in the brothels at night during the busy client hours. Towards the end of my visit, the volunteers explained to me the extreme violence that sex workers in their area face on a daily basis. One recent example was particularly jarring– just in the past six months a sex worker in their neighborhood was beaten to death by a client wielding a rock. The brave women of Vishwa Mahila Mandal are doing what they can with the little they have, in order to help the most vulnerable members of their community. Their work continues to inspire me.” Kenyon Laing, Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy, 2013

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ScreenShot034“When I first spoke with Haneen, I was immediately drawn to her ebullient personality and tireless energy. I had the opportunity to meet this amazing woman while visiting Jordan and Save the Children‘s relief programs in response to the Syrian refugee crisis. Haneen is responsible for STC’s youth programs in Amman and is working tirelessly to improve the well-being of Syrian refugee children who have been flooding across the border for over a year and a half now. Haneen is a  “youth programs coordinator” at Save the Children advocating for Syrian children’s needs throughout youth programs in Amman and in the refugee camps along the border. She is also working on different grants that have components for youth and is developing best practices from the “youth friendly spaces” in the camps and host communities. Lastly, she has developed life skills material for youth named “ABWAB“ (which means doors in English), that is currently being implemented with 900 adolescents and being scaled to meet the needs of hundreds more in the refugee camps and around Jordan. Upon entering a classroom, Haneen instantly commands the attention of everyone there. Her kind eyes and bright smile bring a sense of warmth and energy, and the children respond in kind. Regardless of the dire circumstances or bleak surroundings, the room is immediately filled with joy and light. For children who have seen so much, and who have lost so much at such a young age, Haneen is a forceful reminder that every child deserves a childhood. Regardless of the activity going on, Haneen can organize a room full of children into circles of dancing and singing in under a minute. For the moment, they are able to forget about their wearisome lives outside of the classroom, dissolve into laughter, and just be children. Haneen‘s journey started when she was 16 years old with a program funded by UNICEF called “From Child To Child”, in which she discovered her passion in developing participants skills, and has since worked to train teachers both in Jordan and in the region. Her trainings are always interactive, and as she likes to say, “don’t give me the fish, but teach me HOW to fish.” Haneen believes that the youth are the leaders of tomorrow, and that their energy is often neglected in refugee settings. Beyond providing for essential needs, Haneen works to create a solid foundation, invest in their abilities and teach them productive skills. By taking these actions, she strives to accelerate the potential for social change. Towards this end, Haneen brings to mind Gandhi’s words…  “be the change you want to see in the world.” Haneen and her work are a concrete reminder that it is in the worst of disasters and crises that we see the kindness of humanity shine the brightest.” Torrey Taussig, Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy, 2013

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ScreenShot035Jacky, as I affectionately call her, works for Population Services International in Kenya and is a well-known youth and women’s advocate across the country. Jacky’s work facilitating socioeconomic progress across rural Kenya, particularly by creating opportunities for vulnerable girls and women, is inspirational but she is so much more than her job. Jacky and I were introduced through mutual colleagues and a close friendship soon developed. While I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer, Jacky spent countless hours guiding me and my work and provided the much-needed cultural and youth context to augment my vision. I credit much of my success as a Volunteer to her investment in me. Jacky is also an amazing role model. Although she is only a few years older than I, Jacky effortlessly balances the increasing demands of her career, mentorship, her marriage, and is now an expectant mother. Jacky’s example is one that I strive to learn from and it empowers me to live better, do better, and be better.” Tameisha Henry, Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy, 2014

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ScreenShot036“I met Sahul as part of an “immersion” into development projects in the heart of the arid Sind province of Pakistan, facilitated by the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund. She came forward as the designated leader and spokesperson for the “Gothani Auraton Ki Taraqiati Tanzeem” – the community women’s organization.As a little girl, Sahul and two others would go to the elderly local school-master, the Ustaad, to learn how to read and write. Times were different then; the Ustaad himself did not let his daughters outside the house. However, there was something in this particular student that appeared to him to be larger than tradition. “Educate her, and she will teach the whole village,” he told her father. Sahul embraced the role that was assigned to her by these words as her destiny. Although soft-spoken and unassuming, the others fell silent when she spoke about the electric pump that her women’s organization had secured for the water-scarce village. While teaching girls as part of a UNICEF project, her dream was to be appointed in an official capacity as at the local government school.“Baji (big sister) cleared the path for the rest of us,” explained a shy young girl. “Now, the whole village can learn.” Madeeha Ansari, Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy, 2014

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ScreenShot037Hanatou lived with her daughter-in-law and grandchildren (also pictured) down the street from my house when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer, in the town of Kornaka, Niger. She supported her household with income she earned pounding millet grains off the stalks and remittances sent by her son from Nigeria. The pounding, called “mussusuka”, earned little for work that was exhausting and left dust in every pore. Soap was an appreciated gift, and small enough that it didn’t hurt her pride when I’d bring it. She’s a strong lady whose dedication and dignity will always inspire me.” Nathan Kennedy, Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy, 2013

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ScreenShot038Judy Heumann has been a role model and a mentor for me since I first met her over ten years ago.  She has spent her life tirelessly working to defend the rights of people with disabilities in the United States and around the world.  Moreover, she has done this with joy, love, effervescent enthusiasm! Judy is originally from Brooklyn, New York.  As an infant in the late 1940s, she contracted one of the last cases of polio, which put her in a wheelchair.  After going to college to train as a teacher, she was told by the state of New York that she would not be allowed to teach, because she could not walk.  So, she filed a lawsuit against the state and won, and proceeded to spend several years teaching 2nd grade.  She was required to obtain a masters degree, so she chose a to study public health in Berkeley, which changed the trajectory of her life.  While in California throughout the 1970s, she became instrumental in the nascent movement for the rights of people with disabilities, and she worked tirelessly for this cause for over 20 years.  In the 1990s, Bill Clinton hired her as Assistant Secretary of Education in the area of Special Needs, and she then earned a position at the World Bank as the first ever Advisor on Disability and Development.  She now works for the State Department, in a similar appointment as Special Advisor for International Disability Rights. Judy is often a keynote speaker and she is a well-known leader globally.  But moreover, people love her for her genuine open attitude and contagious smile.  I respect Judy greatly for her hard work and persistence — she never lets obstacles get in the way of her goals.  I had the great privilege of traveling with Judy to over a dozen countries in Asia, Africa, and Europe in 2003-2005.  I snapped this photo in Islamabad, Pakistan during our visit to a school for children with special needs.  Judy deserves our recognition as one of the most amazing women on the planet, and I am pleased to honor her during this year’s International Women’s Day!” Annie Paulson, Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy, 2013

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ScreenShot039“I remember standing as a college student studying abroad in Buenos Aires watching these women and knowing they were doing something spectacular, but it was not until I came to Fletcher that I truly understood the power of their actions. The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo are discussed throughout the literature on mass atrocities and social protest and I feel lucky to have actual gotten to stand by and support these women in my own way. They are “ordinary women,” mostly mothers and grandmothers who after thirty years of the end of the military regime in Argentina are still forcing people to remember what occurred during this dark period of the country’s history. As a student in Buenos Aires even though I knew about the “Dirty War” there are not many indications of the atrocities that occurred, even though there were torture centers right in the city. It is spectacular that these women represent a living monument and remind everyone of the bravery they demonstrated during the regime. The mothers of the disappeared marched in circles, to avoid appearing to be protesting (which was not allowed by the regime), and used their roles as women and mothers in a political way. Without realizing it these women have inspired my work and my desire to get people to think differently about gender and conflict.” Phoebe Randel, Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy, 2013

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ScreenShot040Dr. Oyun Sanjaasuren is currently Minister of Environment and Green Development in Mongolia, Board member of the Zorig Foundation, and leader of the Civil Will Party since 2000 until present. She was Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2007 to 2008 and has been a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum since 2003. Currently she serves as member of the Standing Committee on Security and Foreign Policy and member of the Standing Committee on Social Policy, Education, Culture and Science. Dr. Oyun was the first Mongolian to earn a Ph.D. (in geology) from a British university (Cambridge) and to work for a large multinational company (Rio Tinto mining). She entered politics in 1998 after the assassination of her brother Zorig Sanjaasuren who was a Mongolian pro-democracy leader and has since been a prominent actor in Mongolian politics. She is a true role model for young women in Mongolia and helped build the fundamental pillars for women’s participation in politics through her works. Dr. Oyun promotes social entrepreneurship through the Zorig Foundation, encouraging and supporting women and youth to advance academically and socially.” Khongorzul Bat-Ireedui, Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy, 2014

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ScreenShot042Hanna is a woman who inspires me to continue researching and recording testimonies of survivors who have experienced persecution and genocidal madness. Hanna was a role model for me growing up.  We belonged to the same community and I knew her family well.  It was not until I began my Fulbright research that I discovered Hanna’s story and her childhood escaping Nazi persecution in France, Switzerland, and ItalyHanna is always loving, caring, and she has persevered through much hardship in her life.  Her positive outlook and decision to give back to the community by speaking to students about her experiences during the Holocaust inspire me daily.” Samantha Lakin, Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy, 2014

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ScreenShot044“I met Maureen in the fall of 2009 when I traveled to Uganda to work with a small, grassroots NGO, the Uganda Rural Fund (URF).  Although she was only 22, she had already worked extensively on issues of women’s health and development. After graduating from Makerere University, Maureen started working for Uganda Rural Fund and started up several projects, including a women’s literacy program, women’s economic empowerment projects, and numerous health seminars.  Since URF only had a few permanent staff, Maureen led most of these initiatives independently and without a complaint.  I have never witnessed anyone work so tirelessly with no expectation of thanks or praise. In addition to her work with women, Maureen also oversaw after-school class sessions for primary school students.  On top of this, Maureen took three siblings who were unable to attend school under her wing and taught them every evening. Maureen Nakalinzi is a true heroine, and I am grateful to call her my friend and colleague.” Rebecca Richards, Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy, 2013

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ScreenShot045Aviva is a survivor of the Holocaust, who spent the war years in a Jewish-run orphanage in Switzerland. She remembers the communal life among Jewish refugees in the orphanage, where they each had jobs in the community home, and where they learned and celebrated life together even though the outside world was chaos. She also possesses a positive outlook on life and hopes for the best in every situation, especially between Israelis and Palestinians in Israel, where she currently lives. She has taught me that just because you’ve been the target of hate does not mean you should hate others. Love and understanding are a key element of being happy and content, she says.” Samantha Lakin, Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy, 2014

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ScreenShot041Microcredit recipient, Guatemala I met the woman in this photograph while interviewing women recipients of microcredit in rural Guatemala to document their life stories. She was in the process of founding a chicken cooperative, which has now fully developed as her own business.” Roxanne Krystalli, Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy, 2014

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ScreenShot043Mirjam is a woman who escaped France and was rescued with her family into Switzerland during World War II. Today she lives in Jerusalem. Her admiration for her father, who was a brilliant man who was instrumental in helping Mirjam and her family reach safety across the French-Swiss border, emanates in her positive life outlook. Mirjam is kind, critical, enthusiastic, and intelligent. She speaks several languages and engages in her community, after building a successful life in Israel as a survivor of the Holocaust.” Samantha Lakin, Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy, 2014

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