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Honoring Wided Bouchamaoui with the 2016 Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Award
Ten years ago IRI’s WDN started with the goal of increasing women’s political participation. This year WDN will highlight 10 women who have become leaders throughout the world. On Friday March 4, at a ceremony in Washington DC, WDN presented Wided Bouchamaoui with the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Award during its annual Jeane J. Kirkpatrick luncheon; she is the first awardee of WDN’s 10 for 10 campaign.
Wided Bouchamaoui is the first female president of the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts (UTICA). In 2013 Bouchamaoui, along with the heads of three other civil society organizations, formed the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet in hopes of countering rising tensions in the country. The quartet was instrumental in bridging the divide between Islamists and secularists and sparing Tunisia from a violent and turbulent transition in the wake of its Jasmine Revolution. In 2015 Bouchamaoui and the quartet were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their work. She has also received the highest recognition in Tunisia, the Grand Officer of the Order of the Republic First Class as well as the Legion d’honneur from France and the Royal Honor of the Polar Star from Sweden.
Attending the luncheon was WDN’s International Women’s Day delegation, a group of 11 women from around the world. Each year, WDN brings its most active members to Washington, DC, to participate in training workshops, meet with policy makers and plan activities for the forthcoming year. This unique opportunity to observe government at work in the United States and learn from the experiences of their international peers continues to be an exceptional experience for WDN members. This year’s delegation represented Peru, Jordan, Albania, Tunisia, Moldova, Guatemala, Uganda, Argentina, Bolivia, Bangladesh and Cameroon.
After receiving the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick award, which was presented by CNN contributor and author Mary Katharine Hamm, Bouchamaoui and Hamm spoke about Bouchamaoui’s roll in the democratic transition of Tunisia. Bouchamaoui explained that many times in the dialogue she was the only woman at the table, however because she was a businesswoman in Tunisia she was accustomed to being the sole female at negotiations. She expressed to the women from around the world who were sitting in the room to be confident and brave, reminding them that is essential for them to claim a roll in their countries future.
The Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Award recognizes honorees for their commitment to increase women’s political and civic participation within their own communities and on behalf of women worldwide. A long-time board member of the International Republican Institute and the first woman to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Jeane J. Kirkpatrick was a strong advocate for women’s participation in politics and the establishment of WDN.