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Supporting Women’s Human Rights Worldwide – Special update about women in the Middle East
PARC Forum

30 January 2003
George E. Pake Auditorium

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Despite gains made over the past few decades, women's human rights are still not guaranteed. Of the 855,000,000 illiterate people in the world, 70% of them are women. Worldwide, domestic violence is the leading cause of death for women. Each year, the Global Fund for Women receives thousands of proposals from women's rights groups who seek to challenge and transform these realities. Around the world, women have organized to combat violence, pass laws that guarantee equal inheritance rights for women and promote women's leadership in peace and conflict resolution. The Global Fund for Women was created in Palo Alto by Anne Firth Murray and two co-founders who believed that investing in women is an effective strategy for building a just and democratic world. The Global Fund values local expertise and believes that women themselves know best how to determine their needs and propose solutions for lasting change. Returning from an outreach trip to the Middle East, Kavita N. Ramdas will discuss the challenges facing women in a region torn apart by the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the threat of war in Iraq, some of the most oppressive and undemocratic regimes in the world, and the continued attempt to silence and suppress the voices of women.


Kavita N. Ramdas became president and CEO of the Global Fund for Women in 1996. In 2003, Ms. Ramdas was named one of 21 leaders of the 21st century, and received the "Choosing to Lead" award in May 2002 at the National Women's Leadership Summit. She was named "Woman of the Year" in 2002 by the Santa Clara Women and Law Society. In recognition of her philanthropic leadership, Kavita received the Women's Funding Network award in 1999 for "Changing the Face of Philanthropy." In May 1999, she was selected to become a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute. Before joining the Global Fund, Kavita spent eight years working on issues of U.S. poverty and economic development as well as international population issues as a program officer at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in Chicago, Illinois. Ms. Ramdas earned a master's degree in international development and public policy studies from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, where she currently serves as a member of the Advisory Council. She holds a bachelor's degree in international relations and political science from Mount Holyoke College. She serves on the boards of the Alan Guttmacher Institute and the Rural Development Institute. Ms. Ramdas is a former member of the Committee on Women and Development, an advisory board to the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa, and was a trustee of the General Service Foundation. She is a founding board member and past chair of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP), and former board member of Women and Philanthropy, affinity groups of the Council on Foundations. Ms. Ramdas was born and raised in India.


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