WASHINGTON, DC — The Independent Women’s Forum today hosted a summit on democracy, economic liberty, free markets and women for a delegation of Iraqi women visiting the United States. The IWF summit was part of a week long training program being sponsored by the Women’s Alliance for a Democratic Iraq (WAFDI) to provide Iraqi women leaders with insight into the participation of women in democratic institutions in the United States. WAFDI is a pro-democracy organization committed to advancing the situation of Iraqi women through democratic systems.
Moderated by IWF senior fellow Michelle D. Bernard, members of the Iraqi delegation include pro-democracy women activists, elected officials and members of the Iraqi interim government. Speakers at the summit included Kathleen Walsh Carr, President and CEO of the Adams National Bank, Marie Johns, former President and CEO of Verizon, Washington, D.C., Jo Kwong, Director of Institute Relations, Atlas Economic Research Foundation, Doris Martin, General Counsel, African Development Foundation, and Claire Starkey, President of Fintrac.
“Democracies which embrace a respect for the rule of law, property rights, and economic liberty offer the greatest hope for women. Advancing and supporting democracies based upon these principles is the greatest defense against the subjugation of women, religious and ethic minorities around the world,” said Michelle D. Bernard. “The ability of Iraqi women to fully participate in the political, economic and social structures of their country can only strengthen the emergence of democratic institutions in Iraq,” said Bernard.
The week-long curriculum includes programs on the pillars of democracy, governance, the role of women in civil society, free markets, conflict resolution, and women in business. Among others, various training programs have been led by political leaders, scholars, and analysts at the National Democratic Institute , the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, the Independent Women?s Forum, the International Foundation for Elections Systems, the International Republican Institute, and the United States Institute for Peace.