The Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security hosted Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan for a conversation about refugees and women and girls’ empowerment last week.
Queen Rania spoke about crises in the Middle East and their particular effect on women.
“In times of crises, inequality becomes deeper,” said the Queen.
Her Majesty highlighted brutal violence in ISIS dominated areas, increasing rates of child marriage among Syrian refugee girls, and women who are eating last and least in war-torn Yemen.
“But throughout it all, Arab women do what women do best: they beat the odds,” said Queen Rania. “They carry on despite the pain.”
WOMEN AS AGENTS FOR CHANGE
“We shouldn’t look at women as helpless victims,” urged Queen Rania. “They’re heroes. They’re heads of households. They’re peace builders.”
She called on the Georgetown audience to do more than celebrate the courage of Arab women.
“I’m here to ask you to engage with these women. Because they need you,” said Her Highness.
Her Majesty’s call to action included leveraging technology to give women and girls access to education in remote areas, thinking innovatively about ways to provide refugees with job opportunities, and connecting Arab women to international networks so they know that others support them.
Guests of the event included Jane Harman, CEO of the Wilson Center; Alice Albright, CEO of Global Partnership for Education; Father Leo O’Donovan, Executive Director of Jesuit Refugee Service; Megan Smith, former Chief Technology Officer of the United States; and the Ambassadors of Jordan and Norway.
Many guests offered updates about their own work and suggestions for how to move forward together.
“I feel honored to be in a room with shared commitment and compassion,” said Her Majesty.
Despite its small size, Jordan hosts around 1.4 million Syrian refugees, who now make up twenty per cent of its population.
“As an Arab, Muslim woman, Queen Rania is an extraordinary voice for tolerance,” said Ambassador Melanne Verveer, executive director of the Georgetown Institute for Women Peace and Security, who hosted the event.
Queen Rania received the Global Trailblazer award from the Vital Voices Global Partnership at the Kennedy Center the previous day in recognition for her contributions to positive change on both local and global levels.