Co-written by Sarah M. Weatherbee
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), a leading national civil rights organization that advocates on behalf American people of Arab descent is gearing up for a new initiative targeting women. The ADC Women's Initiative was launched in April 2011 by a national consortium of 60 influential Arab-American Women. The Initiative, an all-volunteer effort, meets twice a month and seeks to support the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) in its efforts to dispel negative stereotypes through educational and vibrant cultural programming about Arab Americans.
This initiative is responding to a collective yearning among Arab American women, Dr. Amal David, founded the ADC Women's Initiative in order to activate, re-energize, and strengthen the role of women as community leaders. The primary goals of the Initiative include familiarizing the American public with positive images of Arab women through education and cultural outreach, building coalitions with other minority ethnic groups, and driving forward the development of ADC.
ADC as an organization has been around for 3 decades now. In those 3 decades ADC has engaged both the community and the nation's decision-makers in addressing issues of grave importance to the community as a whole. But Dr. David, an Arab American originally from Nazareth concluded the group can do more to help advance women in the community. She came equipped with her strong background in community activism, education, communication, and coalition building with both Arabs and non-Arabs in Detroit, Michigan. Drawing from this experience, she has built a committee of Arab-American women from different faiths, professions, and regional backgrounds so that they may take a leading role in ADC's growth.
Next month, the women's Initiative makes itself known through its first major event: Turaath: Celebrating Arab Culture in America. Turaath will feature prominent Arab women such as Iraqi designer, Hanna Sadiq, Moroccan singer, Nidal Ibourk, and Miss USA 2010, Rima Fakih. Their accomplishments combat the negative stereotypes of Arab women as hidden and dependent beings, lacking a strong sense of self. In showcasing the talents of Sadiq, Ibourk, and Fakih, Turaath will demonstrate that Arab women possess strength, independence, and the ability to define themselves.
Following Turaath, the Women's Initiative committee will strategize and set in motion specific activities for the coming year. In February, the initiative will strengthen solidarity between Arab youth and the African American community by awarding scholarships to high school students who write essays on the significance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s civil rights legacy. March is Women's History Month, and this coming March, a day session is being planned to assess the present situation and future prospects of Arab and Arab American women. In June, the ADC National Convention will feature sessions highlighting the business and educational achievements of Arab women in the US and abroad.
In summary, the essential functions of the Women's Initiative are to enhance the development of ADC as major voice for the community at large while promoting the personal and professional development of Arab and Arab American women. The organizers have plans for national and local coalition building between Arabs and other minority groups, workshops on improving the quality of life for women of Arab heritage through education and job training, and empowering youth through mentorship and inclusion into ADC's path forward by reminding us of rich cultural tapestry connecting all Americans.