Connecting Fearless Women Change Agents from the Middle East with American Women from the Streets of Manhattan to the Heartland of Minnesota
Straight from the frontlines in Gaza, Pakistan, Egypt, and Iraq, they are women peace builders who are changing the world one step at a time, in the midst of an unprecedented degree of war, revolution and strife besieging their communities every day. And despite a chorus of naysayers about their prospects for real peace, the women utilize their passion to fuel their work, while American women from every conceivable socio-economic background step up to listen to and learn from them. This all takes place in the safe virtual space called The Global Room for Women, the first-ever scalable platform that provides American women access to real time, direct conversations, by phone, with an array of diverse women living in developing countries and war-torn regions who are changing the landscape for women and girls` lives. Speakers from the Middle East who are appearing in an upcoming teleconference series have been referred by CODEPINK.
"We designed The Global Room for Women to be convenient and easily adapted to a woman`s busy schedule, whether she`s a teacher, an executive or a soccer mom. We invite women to take a step outside their comfort zone, come as they are, when their schedules permit. All they need to do is pick up the telephone and an entire global community of women is waiting to engage with them," says GRW founder Linda Higdon. "The real beauty of this model is that we bring women from far-reaching areas of the world directly to busy U.S. women and can include hundreds of women across the country on each call, while creating an intimate experience through small breakout conversations. This is something they would never otherwise have access to. There is nothing like this out there for American women," adds Higdon.
"Although these women may not be visible in the Western media news cycle, they are working under the radar to make real change from the bottom up. We are continually amazed at the degree to which women on each side of the conversation are benefitting from listening to the experience of the other," adds Higdon.
Who are these women who are so driven by a fierce determination to build peace?
A Sunni Muslim woman originally from Pakistan, Samina Sundas became an outsider in the United States, her home for decades, in the aftermath of 9/11. By opening her doors to all ethnicities and faith groups, she dispelled misperceptions and created ground breaking conversations between many who thought it impossible. After 9/11, we were living in a culture of fear and I said, "I am a Muslim woman and welcome to my home." Founder of American Muslim Voice, Samina is a recipient of the Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Prize awarded by Fellowship of Reconciliation.
A Gaza City physician, Dr. Mona ElFarra is a builder of refugee camp cultural and health centers, and serves as Vice President of the Gazan Red Crescent Society. For children living in camps in the Gaza Strip, the most tragic thing is the loss of hope. So we keep saying over and over `We Love You.` It is our duty to provide them a chance and a right to be a child "that is our hope for our own futures and what keeps me going."
Pharmacist Dr. Rashad Zaydan`s life was turned upside down when war broke out in Iraq. She immediately began pulling bodies off the streets and treating them in a makeshift clinic in her garage. Since then, Zaydan founded Knowledge for Iraqi Women Society, a non-profit providing widows and orphans with essentials in Baghdad, Nineveh, and Fallujah. "We do not engage in politics, but with the practical tasks of improving the lives of women and children. When I visit the US, I am surprised by how many express friendship and care."
"I need to keep my concentration on this baby, this newborn revolution, and hold it safe in my mind and my heart every second until it grows and steadies a bit. 80 million feel like this - because the support we have from the world has put the wind in our sails. We are learning quickly, and we`re working, but the People everywhere are with us." Ahdaf Soueif, celebrated bestselling Egyptian novelist, political and cultural writer on the events of Tahir Square and the hearts of the Egyptians.
Members pay a small fee ($16-32) per series of calls and there is no limit to how many they can attend. Each woman chooses her experience and there is no pressure to do more than listen. After each call many engage with each other as a living global community of women. Through `My Global Room`, our social networking space, they live chat after each call, organize, or keep the conversation going. Through Maestro technology, we provide members one another`s contact information. Our site provides and supports actions, initiatives, projects, resources, and success stories which are emerging continuously within the community.
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