WASHINGTON, March 1, 2012 – The American Islamic Congress has joined the international community to salute the 101st International Women’s Day celebrated on March 8, 2012, across the globe to honor the achievements of women. This is the 10th IWD honored by AIC and it marks a milestone in the organization’s fight for women’s rights in Muslim majority countries. Over the ten years of its existence the organization has empowered thousands of women across the Middle East and North Africa to participate in the political process and be vocal advocates for their rights.
“Gender equality was one of the founding principles of AIC because we know that the status of women is a key barometer of progress and prosperity,” said Zainab Al-Suwaij, co-founder and Executive Director of AIC. “I believe that as women living in the United States and enjoying great freedoms and unlimited opportunities, we must do everything in our power to help women across the international community achieve the same status,” Al-Suwaij added.
For more than a decade, Al-Suwaij has served as a vanguard of the Iraqi women’s rights movement, fighting for gender equality and inclusion of women in the public sphere through workshops and training civil society activists in the principles of democracy and civil leadership. AIC Iraq has subsequently developed full-fledged education and conflict resolution programming that serves the country to this day.
In 2012, Al-Suwaij spearheaded AIC’s groundbreaking project titled “A Modern Narrative for Muslim Women” to investigate challenges and opportunities faced by women of the Middle East. The initiative brought together hundreds of female business leaders, academics, government officials, and grassroots activists from Iraq, Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and culminated in the publication of the report “A Modern Narrative for Muslim Women in the Middle East: Forging a New Future,” which inspired and empowered numerous women activists during the Arab Spring.
“International Women’s Day also must remind us of the work to be done as many women still struggle to achieve equality and inclusion,” said Dalia Ziada, AIC Egypt Director and one of the major female figures of the Egyptian revolution. “We must spotlight the places where women’s rights are in danger, like Egypt. Despite the crucial role Egyptian women played during the Revolution, standing with men strong, shoulder-to-shoulder, they are now being marginalized. We want the world to know that we will keep fighting,” Ziada added.
Ziada ran for Parliament in November 2011 elections but lost. Only eight women were elected to the 508-seat legislative body. Ziada’s achievements in the area of women’s rights will be honored at the Newsweek/ Daily Beast Women in the World 2012 Summit held in NYC on March 8 – 10. The Summit brings together the most remarkable women leaders and activists from around the globe. Ziada will headline the panel dedicated to the women’s rights situation in Egypt.
The AIC Center will commemorate International Women’s Day with special programming. On March 6, 2012, Dalia Ziada will host an event titled “A Report from the Streets of Cairo” recounting her experience as a female candidate for Egyptian Parliament. On March 8, 2012, the Center will present Artist reception by the renowned photographer Kerry “Kiki” Hook of Kiki Larouge Photography. Hook will showcase pieces from her series “Our Paths to Enlightenment” that explores the indigenous spirituality of South and Southeast Asia.