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Women Leaders from the Middle East

Women Leaders from the Middle East and North Africa Participate in the Election Exchange Program

Nearly fifty women political leaders from the Middle East and North Africa met with President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice this week as part of the Election Exchange Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State's Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI). The participants engaged in candid discussions with both the President and Secretary on democracy and reform efforts in the Middle East and North Africa.

The women, representing Algeria, Bahrain, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen, are all involved in upcoming elections in their home countries. Some of the women have run for office in previous elections, but many are first-time candidates or campaign managers with little experience in managing a campaign. The exchange program will provide them with an opportunity to learn from the U.S. model and particularly the experience of American women in politics.

The Election Exchange Program isdesigned to give participants from across the region an opportunity to learn from the U.S. experience in electoral campaigning and the chance to witness local and presidential elections up close. Meetings and training commenced in Washington D.C. on October 14, and will continue through November 7, 2008, as they travel to cities across the United States to observe local election campaigns.

The Election Exchange Program is implemented by the American University’s Center for Democracy and Election Management (CDEM) and Women and Politics Institute (WPI). It is divided into a series of workshops on the U.S. electoral system, followed by field visits to ten states in the U.S. where they will observe local campaign events. At the close of the program, the women will witness the U.S. Presidential election on November 4. The program will include meetings with local political leaders and visits to governmental and non-governmental organizations.

Participants will observe elections in the following cities:

Portland, Maine Seattle, Washington
Raleigh, North Carolina Denver, Colorado
Miami, Florida Lansing, Michigan
Minneapolis, Minnesota Santa Fe, New Mexico
Chicago, Illinois New Orleans, Louisiana


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