By: Ariana Romero, National Iranian American Council (NIAC)
Washington, DC - “Being active is not a privilege, it’s a responsibility.” This was just one of many lessons learned at the Iranian-American Women’s Leadership Conference that took place on June 23 at Georgetown University. The Iranian-American Women’s Foundation (IAWF) alongside the World Bank and Persian Gender Network (PGN) hosted the conference, bringing together hundreds of Iranian-American women from across the country. Attendees came from diverse backgrounds - professionally, politically, age-wise and geographically. This diversity allowed for a constant flow of discussion and healthy debate among participants.
The conference set the stage to empower and inspire Iranian-American women of all ages and career paths. This day-long event was an ideal setting to network and learn, all while having fun. In addition to insightful panel discussions, there were several keynote presentations, book signings and even a “Baazaar Che” promoting an array of businesses from jewelry and makeup to non-profit organizations.
Some of the panels included ‘Women in Philanthropy,’ ‘Women in Entrepreneurship,’ and ‘Women in Politics and Public Policy,’ to name a few. Referencing civic engagement in the ‘Women in Politics and Public Policy’ panel, Niaz Kasravi, Senior Manager for the Criminal Justice Program at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), stressed to “go after your rights, it is the key to working together.” She emphasized how the beauty of this country is it allows Iranian Americans to strive for change and provides the tools to become a better citizen.
During the ‘Women’s Development & Empowerment’ panel, Mahnaz Afkhami, founder and president of Women’s Learning Partnership (WLP) addressed the importance of remembering and learning from predecessors and mentors. She stressed that the younger generation of attendees must “deeply respect every person you work with,” despite potential differences of opinion. The healthy exchange of opinions will only lead to a greater understanding of the issue at hand.
The timing of this conference is critical to the Iranian-American community, at a moment when we need to unite as a community and encourage each other to strive for the best. A special thanks is in order for the leadership of Mariam Khosravani, IAWF Founder and President and PGN Founder and World Bank Senior Advisor, Nadereh Chamlou and their wonderful committee and staff. Without their vision and dedication, the conference would not be possible.
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