About the Author: Ambassador-at-Large Melanne Verveer serves as director of the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues.
Secretary Clinton greeted ten emerging leaders from Iraq, participants in an International Visitor Leadership Program sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
The Office of Global Women’s Issues joined in an interagency roundtable with the delegation and spoke to them about their work promoting the political, economic, and social empowerment of Iraqi women, and welcomed back Suaad Allami, who came to Washington at the beginning of March to receive an International Women of Courage award from Secretary Clinton.
Ms. Allami happily reported that the Secretary remembered her, but quickly turned serious in discussing her work establishing Women’s Centers in Sadr City, which she called “giving voice to the voiceless.” Without the awards program and other U.S. programs, she said, “I couldn’t be as I am now. I value myself now.” She expressed the hope that the others in her program would experience a similar benefit, so that they could better serve the causes and people they represent.
From Washington, this group of parliamentarians, government officials, journalists, and NGO leaders travels to New York and New Jersey, where they will have a seminar with faculty from the Center for American Women and Politics at the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University. From there, they travel to California and then Texas, for meetings on state politics, elections, boosting volunteerism, and fostering leadership in girls and young women.
Many members of the group are visiting the United States for the first time. While they look forward to experiencing a diverse cross-section of American culture as part of their program, all are single-minded about their goals. “This is a golden opportunity,” one participant, a government official, said, adding that she tries to stress the need for concrete support for projects in Iraq in all her meetings.