ADC Women’s Initiative Celebrates International Women's Day in DC, Michigan, and Chicago

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Photo credit: Amr Mounib

The ADC Women’s Initiative is organizing women around the country to empower ADC and build a national network of Arab American women. Three major events were held in March, Women’s History Month, to celebrate International Women’s Day. These events brought together new and old members of ADC and the community to commemorate the role and achievements of women and honor a few select women for their extraordinary achievements in various fields within the community. 

Each event is briefly recapped below: 

Washington DC Area 

The ADC Women’s Initiative culminated its celebration of International Women’s Day by holding its first annual International Women’s Day Celebration on Sunday, March 25, 2012. The enchanting evening was entitled “Honoring the Achievements of Extraordinary Arab-American Women.” The celebration was held at the Fairfax Marriott at Fair Oaks in Fairfax, Virginia. Three-hundred-fifty guests, comprised of long time ADC supporters and many new community members, came together to commemorate the role and achievements of women as well as to honor four remarkable women who have excelled in their respective fields. Prior to the event, the venue was full of vibrant art exhibitions by several Arab-American female artists, including: Manal Deeb, Thoria Hassan, Muna Yousef, Helen Zughaib, Suad Raja, Sevim Alkhaldi, and Rima Nasser

ADC Women’s Initiative Chairwoman Dr. Amal David energetically welcomed the guests and introduced presenters and the evening’s four honorees: Dr. Nuha Abudabbeh, Dr. Aziza Al-Hibri, Lobna Ismail, and Helen Zughaib. Dr. David explained the ADC Women’s Initiative history and purpose and honored each woman in the audience with a flower. 

ADC President Warren David spoke about ADC’s growth since his assumption of the role of president last year. Following Mr. David’s remarks, the awards ceremony began. Each of this year’s honorees was introduced and presented their award by an active young member of the ADC Women’s Initiative. Sarah Hassaine presented dedicated psychologist Dr. Nuha Abudabbeh an award for her extraordinary achievements in the field of cross-cultural issues and forensic psychology. Natasha Akda presented Dr. Aziza Al-Hibri an award for excellence in the field of law, specifically in the areas of Islam, democracy, and women’s and civil rights. Yasmina Mrabet presented Lobna ‘Luby’ Ismail an award for exceptional strides in the realm of cross-cultural competence, Arab and American cultures, Islamic awareness, and religious diversity. Finally, Reema Dodin presented Helen Zughaib with an award for outstanding achievements in the arts. 

Presentation of the awards was followed by a wonderful performance by Dr. Huda Asfour of Arabic selections on the oud (stringed instrument similar to a lute). Following Dr. Asfour’s beautiful musical stylings, four works of art donated by the showcased artists were auctioned off to further benefit ADC. The lively auction showcased pieces from artists Manal Deeb, Thoria Hassan, Muna Yousef, and honoree Helen Zughaib. 

The evening was capped off by a dinner followed by Arabic dancing and celebration, including a rousing dabkeh line. 

The truly extraordinary event exceeded ADC’s goals in all aspects. Attendees were given the chance to catch up with old members and welcome new ones as the ADC Women’s Initiative showcased the true sense of empowerment of Arab-American women and their important role in ADC and in the community as a whole. 

Michigan 

Continuing its celebration of International Women’s Day, the ADC Women’s Initiative held an awards dinner “Honoring Ordinary Arab-American Women Achieving Extraordinary Things” for 300 guests in Southfield, Michigan at the Regency Manor & Banquet Center on Sunday, March 18, 2012. The event brought community members new to ADC, as well as longtime supporters, for an evening of festivity and commemoration. 

To start the evening, performing on the tabla (Arabic drum), the Maples Arabic Music Ensemble of Maples Elementary, invigorated the crowd with traditional beats of the Arab World. With origins hailing from Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, and Algeria, the young musicians displayed their diversity among Arab Americans and among ADC members. Further showcasing the rich traditions of the Arab culture was the Ta’amollat women’s dance troupe whose dancers treated the crowd to a selection of dances from Morocco, Egypt, and other Arab countries -- complete with colorful costumes and traditional choreography. Finally, paying tribute to mothers all over the world, in recognition of Mother’s Day, which in the Arab World takes place in March, nine-year old, Yemeni-American Nader Barman, sang the well-known Arabic song, Sitt el-Habayib "Lady of all the Loved Ones"

After a live performance of the National Anthem by Nakiya Gaither, chairwoman of the ADC Women’s Initiative, Dr. Amal David, welcomed members of the audience and summarized for them the history and purpose of the Initiative. ADC President Warren David then highlighted many of the initiatives and events ADC has organized since he assumed the presidency of ADC last year. 

The awards ceremony began with remarks by keynote speaker Palestinian American Ms. Hala Ajluni, whose inspiring story of strife and revival typifies the level of loss many Palestinians faced when driven from their homes and land, as well as the dignity they exhibited as they found the strength and hope to rebuild their lives. 

Following Ms. Ajluni’s words, awards were handed out to four exemplary women in the community,Nadia Higazy, Rehab Amer, Tegina Matta, and Lila Al-Omari.

Chicago

The ADC Women’s Initiative met at Oak Lawn Community Center in Chicago, Illinois, on Thursday, March 8, 2012 to celebrate International Women’s Day. Dr. Amal David, chairwoman from Washington DC, attended the celebration and spoke about being proud of the achievements of Arab American women in the audience and the crucial need to become active participants in the ADC Chicago Chapter. She also thanked Amani Ghouleh, coordinator, for her effort in planning the event and also the ADC Chicago female board members.

The celebration included dinner, music, and a presentation of the future ADC events coordinated by the Chicago ADC Women’s Initiative. Group members announced plans to work on a Chicago event to showcase businesses and professions of Arab American Women in May. The women in attendance initiated a letter campaign addressed to other women in shelters inspiring them to move on and hope for a brighter future. The event was concluded by announcing a plan for a networking opportunity at the home of board member: Attorney Vivian Khalaf, on April 7, 2012; the purpose will be to expand the base of the ADC Women's Initiative in Chicago with women from diverse backgrounds. 

Thank You

ADC thanks the ADC Women’s Initiative for putting on this excellent series of Women’s History Month events across the nation. A special thanks to Dr. Amal David for her work in launching the initiative, recruiting members, and working closely to ensure each event was successful. ADC also thanks all of the attendees, and congratulates the extraordinary awardees across the nation! 

We are looking forward to reuniting with all of you on June 21-24, 2012 in Washington, DC at the ADC National Convention. The ADC Women's Initiative is planning a major assemblage of Arab American women from across the U.S. and will sponsor a women's luncheon at the convention.