The Arab Women’s Leadership Institute, an initiative of the International Republican Institute (IRI), supports the efforts of Arab women to increase their participation in public life and the political process throughout the Middle East and North Africa region. Led by an executive board of prominent Arab and American women leaders, AWLI provides women with skills they need to succeed as community leaders, civil servants and elected officials.
AWLI advances its mission through a unique, cross-regional approach that provides intensive training workshops in leadership, advocacy, management and governance to women of diverse backgrounds and experience levels. Through trainings in its Amman, Jordan headquarters, AWLI sharpens the skill sets of individual women from 17 countries while simultaneously providing a rare forum for aspiring leaders to network with and learn from their peers in countries of varying stages of democratic development.
AWLI support of its participants does not end with their initial training. The Institute works with partners to establish individual short and long-term goals as they relate to their respective organizations, personal goals and country-specific women’s empowerment needs. Participants receive ongoing mentorship to achieve these goals from the executive board, professional trainers and IRI staff throughout the Middle East and North Africa region.
The multidimensional approach of the Arab Women’s Leadership Institute fills the void of educational, resource, and support opportunities available to women in the Middle East and North Africa region. By providing its partners practical skills training, a platform for dialogue, and sustained mentorship, AWLI is increasing the quantity and quality of Arab women leaders, without which a democratic Middle East cannot be possible.
Chair and CEO of The Longaberger Company, a premier U.S. manufacturer of handcrafted baskets and home products, as well as one of the country’s largest direct-selling organizations. She most recently served in 2005 as the former chair of the National Women’s Business Council, a bipartisan federal advisory council advising the President, Congress, and the U.S. Small Business Administration on economic issues for small female-run businesses. Longaberger also participated as a member of the U.S. delegation to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights held in Geneva, Switzerland in 2004.
Notable work includes her advocacy and leadership in the Longaberger Company’s broad fundraising and awareness-building program in partnership with the American Cancer Society. The campaign, Horizon of Hope, has reached approximately 19 million women with educational information, raising almost $14 million in breast cancer research and education.
During her term as Longaberger Company’s president, Longaberger has also served on the board of the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, and previously chaired the U.S. Executive Committee for the 2002 Helsinki Women Leaders Summit, a conference bringing together women from Finland, Russia, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Longaberger has also served as board member of the John Glenn Public Policy Institute and National Audubon Society. She received her degree in Business Administration from Ohio State University, where she also has served as the previous chair of the Board of Trustees.
Dr. Sundus Abbas is the Executive Director of the Women’s Leadership Institute in Baghdad, an organization that helps build the capacity of Iraqi women to become involved in the political process. She regularly contributes to Iraq’s main daily newspapers and other media outlets, pressing to further women’s rights in Iraq. Additionally, Dr. Abbas has worked to the build the capacity of Iraqi civil society organizations to take part in national reconciliation efforts.
Dr. Wajeeha Sadiq Al Baharna
Vice Chair, Bahrain
Dr. Wajeeha Sadiq Al Baharna is President of the Bahrain Women’s Society, which seeks to expand the role of women in the public sphere in Bahrain. She also serves as a board member of the Innovation Cultural and Social Society and is a member of the Board of Trustees at the Arab Thought Forum, the Network of Democrats of the Arab World and the Global Fund for women. She is currently leading the nationality campaign in Bahrain.
Dr. Al Baharna has a PhD in Environmental Studies and has worked as a marine biologist.
Dr. Lily Feidy is the Secretary General of The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue & Democracy (MIFTAH). From 2002-2006, she served as the Deputy Secretary General/Program Design & Management for MIFTAH. Prior to that, Dr. Feidy was Director General for International and Cultural Relations at the Ministry of Higher Education in Palestine from 1996-2002. She is a board member of several international organizations, including the Faculty for Israeli-Palestinian Peace and the American-Palestinian Peace Organization.
Dr. Feidy has a PhD in Applied Linguistics from the University of Delaware and a MA from the University of Michigan. She received her BA in English literature from Birziet University.
Professor of Education at Al-Balqa’a Applied University in Jordan. From 2003-2007, Dr. Hussein was a councilor on the Greater Salt Municipal Council. As head of the Jordanian National Forum for Women, Amman Governorate Branch, she was active in encouraging women to run for elected office at the municipal and parliamentary levels in the 1997 and 2003 election cycles.
Dr. Al Hussein has a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Amman Arabian.
A lifetime public servant in the Moroccan government, Dr. Zarrouk has over 30 years of experience in the Ministry of the Interior. She is currently the Director of Training for administrative and technical staff. Prior to her current appointment, Dr. Zarrouk served for 17 years as the MOI Secretariat General. She has also served as Division Chief for organization and connections and Director of Legal Affairs. Dr. Zarrouk was appointed by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to join the U.N. Committee of Experts on Public Administration, where she is one of 24 members on the global panel.
Ms. Aucar is a practicing lawyer, member of the Committee on Women’s Affairs and of the Committee of Foreign Relations at the Beirut Bar Association. She is an active member of the Women’s Democracy Network’s Advisory Council, for which she conducts regional outreach. She is also a member of the Steering Committee of the Wellesley Center for Women. She has been invovled in initiatives and organizations to promote political, judicial, social and economic reforms in Lebanon and managed electoral campaigns for independent, reformist candidates to the Lebanese Parliament. She conducted legal analysis on the Labour situation and laws in specific Arab countries in order to promote reforms in those areas. She actively conducts reform advocacy work with a wide range of non-governmental organizations and think tanks.
Ms. Al Jasem serves at the Director of Training and Development at the Kuwait Stock Exchange, and has previously held serveral positions in Kuwait’s banking sector. In addition to her position with the Kuwait Stock Exchange, Ms. Al Jasem serves as a board member for the Kuwait Women’s Cultural Society where she chaired the Public Relations Committee from 2007 – 2008. Ms. Al Jasem also serves as a member of the Khair Al Kuwait Orphanage, helping with events that rasie community awareness for orphan children. She holds a Master of Business Administration from the Univeristy of Glamorgan in Whales and Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Al Kuwait University.