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Carter Center Plans Forum on Rights of Women and Girls

Contact: Soyia Ellison,, 404-420-5124

ATLANTA — On Feb. 9-10, more than 60 scholars, activists, and religious leaders from 20 countries will participate in The Carter Center's Human Rights Defenders Forum. "Beyond Violence: Women Leading for Peaceful Societies" will focus on advancing the rights of women and girls, including the right to peace.

The forum will highlight the courageous work of women leaders trying to prevent and resolve violent conflict and extremism. Participants will develop plans to combat violence and discrimination, paying special attention to the role faith groups can play in this effort.

In conjunction with the event, the Center is launching a new website, Created to keep the issue of women's and girls' rights in the spotlight, the virtual hub will highlight success stories, serve as a resource library and archive, offer interactive video chats with human rights defenders, and facilitate among activists scattered across the globe.

The forum begins with two days of closed workshops, followed by two days of public sessions. Speakers at public sessions include former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and a representative of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. (These sessions are open to the media and will be webcast live at

Other participants include:

  • Zarizana Abdul Aziz, a Malaysian human rights lawyer and the former chair of Women Living Under Muslim Laws.
  • Yuni Chuzaifah, the head of Indonesia's National Commission on Violence Against Women.
  • Dalia Abd El-Hameed, the head of the Gender Program at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights and co-founder of Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment, a grassroots movement that resists mob sexual assaults in Cairo.
  • Mimi Haddad, author, president of Christians for Biblical Equality, and founding member of the Evangelicals and Gender Study Group at the Evangelical Theological Society.
  • Michael Kimmel, a professor and researcher of men and masculinity, whose books include "Manhood in America: A Cultural History" and "Angry White Men."
  • Ayisha Osori, a lawyer and the CEO of the Nigerian Women's Trust Fund, a nonprofit focused on increasing the quality and quantity of women in government.

Forum Schedule

Monday, Feb. 9
9 – 10:30 a.m. Opening: President Carter and a representative of the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights give opening remarks. The Rev. Dr. Susan B. Thistlethwaite reports on highlights and recommendations from weekend workshops.

11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Inclusive Leadership for Peaceful Societies:  Senator Kirsten Gillibrand participates in a discussion on inclusive leadership, specifically women's contribution to legal reform and policymaking, to develop non-violent solutions to societal problems and to potential and ongoing conflicts.

2:00 – 3:30 p.m. Confronting Violence Against Women in Society: A panel lays out the state of human rights protections for women and girls with an emphasis on democratic institution-building at the local and national level, encouraging religious leaders and institutions to become robust advocates.

4 – 5:30 p.m. Women Leading to Prevent and Resolve Violent Conflict: A panel looks at ways to create space for voices of local women leaders who are advocating non-violent approaches and human rights-based frameworks for conflict resolution. It examines the role of religious voices in helping to mobilize society toward greater respect for human rights and non-violence.

Tuesday, Feb. 10

9 – 10:30 a.m. Moving Beyond Violence: A panel presents strategies, showcasing cases and specific examples, and calls on participants to share what they plan to do to advance the cause of non-violence and respect for women and girls.

11 a.m. – 12 p.m. Closing: A final review. Participants sign a declaration laying out their findings and principles.

Conversations at The Carter Center

Feb. 10, 7 – 8:15 p.m.
Combating Violence against Women and Girls and Advancing Peace: Three of the participants in the Human Rights Defenders Forum join President Carter for a discussion about protecting the rights of women and girls, with a special emphasis on women and peacemaking and on the role religious leaders can play in this effort.
In addition to President Carter, the panelists are:

  • Ayisha Osori: Lawyer and the CEO of the Nigerian Women's Trust Fund, a nonprofit focused on increasing the quality and quantity of women in government.
  • Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini: Co-founder of the International Civil Society Action Network and one of the civil society drafters of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security.
  • Alaa Murabit: Canadian-Libyan doctor who founded The Voice of Libyan Women project, which pushes for inclusive peace processes and conflict mediation.

Karin Ryan, The Carter Center's senior advisor for human rights, will moderate the discussion.


"Waging Peace. Fighting Disease. Building Hope."
A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, The Carter Center has helped to improve life for people in over 80 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; and improving mental health care. The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide.

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