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Mrs. Patricia Elias Smida
Gender Consultant/ Strategists/Women’s Rights & Political Participation
Lawyer/Gender Consultant/Strategists/Communication/Political Thinking/Women’s Rights & Political Participation
Lawyer, founder and president of Avenir Liban, a think- tank for the promotion of democracy, human rights, women and children's rights, Patricia relentlessly promotes women’s rights, gender equality, women political empowerment and political participation’s advancement throughout Africa and the Arab World.
UNWomen International Consultant on Tunis Forum on Gender Equality.
Political activist and independent candidate. In 2007 she joined the Civil Society for the municipalities’ elections in France, and the team won three seats including one for the municipality of Paris. In 2012, she ran as an independent candidate in the French legislative elections for the French in Africa and the Middle East and ranked 2nd in Lebanon and 3rd over 19 candidates and 49 countries. In 2018, she was also a candidate from the civil society in the parliamentary elections in Lebanon, for the region of Keserwan.
Lecturer and advocate, Patricia is a regular speaker at international women’s conventions, and is frequently an invited guest of foreign dignitaries and associations in the Arab world and in France. She is regularly hosted on television as an expert.
Member of the board of the Human Rights Center at the Beirut Arab University. Awarded the French medal of Associative Commitment by the mayor of Paris and Ile de France for her global engagement in human rights.
Patricia created the "Women's Awards" that rewards NGOs and personal initiatives that advance the rights of women.
She is also a founding member of the "National Coalition for the Political Participation of Women in Lebanon" which brought together more than 200 NGOs as well as the National Commission of Lebanese Women, that united to enhance women political participation in Lebanon and claim for a 30% quota for women in the Lebanese parliament.
Patricia is a member of the Executive Bureau, Strategic Committee and Coalition Legal Committee.
Lecturer, Publisher and Media Speaker
Patricia is a frequent lecturer at international women’s rights conferences and regularly conducts broadcast interviews. She is a regular speaker on International, French and Lebanese TV and has always strongly advocated for women’s political participation in the Arab countries and Africa
- 7 May 2019: Auditioned on Women’s Rights in Lebanon in the French Parliament by the Parliamentarian Commission "Amitié France-Liban"
- 1-4 Nov 2018, Cyprus. Lecture (English) on “A glance at women’s rights in Lebanon.” The conference, “Women’s Rights in the Middle East: Law, Culture and Religion”, was organized by The Christian Academic Forum for Citizenship in the Arab World and Dar Al-Kalima.
- December 2017, France: Lecture (French) on “Une Etude de l’Entreprenariat Féminin en Méditerranée.” The conference, "Women entrepreneurship in Europe, Mediterranean, and Africa: A major asset for the global economic recovery", was organized by the High Authority of the French Notaries Association.
- March 2017, Jordan: 3-days roundtable on the theme of “Women’s Socio-Economic Empowerment.” It was organized by the Embassy of France and CAFRAJ (Jordanian Chamber of Commerce).
- May 2016, France: Lectured on "Leadership of Women in the Arab World"’ The conference was organized by the University of Sciences Po Paris.
- Oct 2016, Morocco: Lectured on “Equality between men and women in the Arab world. State of Play and Challenges”. The conference, “Forum Euro- Méditerranéen des Jeunes Leaders”, was organized by the Anna Lindht Foundation, and the French Embassy in Morocco.
- April 2016, Lebanon. Lectured on “Women Empowerment” at the American University of Technology.
TV Interviews and Appearances:
- In France on France 24, a French television channel for news targeting Africa and the Middle East. She has been hosted as a consultant and a lawyer expert in the Arab countries and African Countries Laws (2008-2009)
- In Lebanon: on all main television channels and newspapers as a lawyer specialized in women’s rights, gender equality, women empowerment and political participation (2011-2019)
- In Africa and the Middle East, on French television and newspapers for her French electoral campaign (2011-2012)
- Euro-Arab Newsletter on Legal news of arbitration.
- The Cedaw 62nd Session Shadow Report of Lebanon on “Access to Justice for Women in Lebanon.
INTERNATIONAL CONSULTANT FOR UNWOMEN:
- Jan 2019: International Consultant and Coordination Specialist for UNWomen Tunisia: 4 months, Home based with missions to Tunisia, to help organize the “Tunis Forum on Gender Equality” (24-26 April 2019) that is a global event intended to pursue efforts initiated during the Stockholm Forum and preparing for next year Beijing +25 anniversary. The Forum was intended to be a cocreation process taking into consideration civil society and activists demands and recommendations to create the panels.
- Coordinating between UNWomen, UNDP, The Tunisian Ministry for Women and the Swedish embassy, drafting a workplan, working on the scientific preparation of the Forum, and the four Themes: (a)Political participation of women (b)Economic empowerment (c)Women Peace and Security (d) Beijing+25, emphasizing the link between CEDAW recommendations and the 1325 agenda.
- Patricia focused on the political participation, followed the online discussions on the four themes and the co creation process, drafted the organogram for the content of the website, drafted the plan of political participation panels for the three days forum, was a rapporteur and helped drafting the final recommendations of the Forum on political participation.
- Patricia focused on the importance of the role of medias, organized a panel on the subject and drafted a recommendation on the necessity to have a quota of women experts in all medias in all fields and having a Media Observatory.
CAREER WITH GLOBAL REACH
Patricia Elias is a lawyer that specializes in International Law: French Private Law, Private International Law, Arab Countries Law, Lebanese Law, and English and North American business Law. She holds her diplomas from the Saint Joseph University of Beirut, and French universities Paris 1 Sorbonne and Paris 2, Assas.
She was responsible for the legal activity in the Arbitration System of the Euro-Arab Chambers of Commerce in Paris. She was also co-founder and editorial secretary of the Newsletter of Legal News of Arbitration and was co-founder of the Euro-Arab Forum of Arbitration and Business Law.
She has organized a number of international and national conferences in different countries in the legal field and women field that brought together speakers from Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
- In Jordan, a trilingual conference in the field of international law, hosting speakers and participants from forty different countries covering Africa, the Arab world, France and Europe.
- In France, at the Senate in Paris on the Role of Women in the Union for the Mediterranean
- In Lebanon conferences on women’s rights, gender equality, CEDAW, women empowerment, women political participation
She is a consultant in communications, policies, strategies and crisis management for executives and political personalities.
HISTORY OF ACTIVISM FOR WOMEN AND CHILDREN
While living in Africa, Patricia got her first taste of activism when she witnessed the disproportionate distribution of wealth and the poverty that besieged children.
In 1998, in Cameroon, she founded an orphanage that provides children with education. The orphanage still functions today, autonomous and self-sufficient.
In Gabon, she worked with street children.
Back in France, she focused her efforts on helping women. She collaborated with NGOs that championed the cause of women. Specifically, she helped empowering women over 45 years old to integrate the workplace.
ADVOCATE FOR WOMEN’S RIGHTS: AVENIR LIBAN
In 2013 Patricia founded and is president of Avenir Liban to promote women’s rights, women empowerment and political participation, through multiple channels and specific concrete actions.
Avenir Liban engaged in lobbying efforts towards international bodies (CEDAW Committee, French Embassy, European Union Embassy and foreign embassies, Ministry of Women in France) and local and foreign governmental and parliamentary authorities. It followed with actions in the field with cooperation with UN and local NGOs, with the Beirut Bar Association, the judiciary and the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie.
Avenir Liban promotes legislative changes to protect women’s rights. In 2013, it obtained from the Ministry of Justice, the implementation of a bill that governs civil marriage. This bill was a first in Lebanon. Unfortunately, and to demonstrate the difficulty in bringing real change in this part of the world, the bill was blocked by the next government and Avenir Liban continues its efforts to have the bill implemented.
Avenir Liban launched a preview of the fourth Lebanese Shadow report on the situation of women’s rights in Lebanon.
Avenir Liban trains and sensitizes legals about CEDAW and women’s rights. Since January 2014, it has trained more than 500 lawyer and judges, on the International Convention on Women's Rights "CEDAW". Avenir Liban lawyers have obtained the first two legal decisions in favor of women, one of which citing CEDAW. This was a first in Lebanon.
Patricia focused intense lobbying efforts on the creation of a women's ministry in Lebanon since 2013. In December 2016, a State Ministry for Women's Rights was created. This was a significant moment in Lebanon’s history.
Avenir Liban, in November 2015, had the privilege of representing civil society and writing the Shadow Report of the 62nd session of the United Nations in Geneva on "Women's Access to Justice in Lebanon". Patricia spearheaded the writing of the report with the collaboration of the Beirut Bar Association.
In 2016-2018, in partnership with the French Embassy and the NGO WADA, Avenir Liban collaborated on a project to empower some forty Lebanese women and Syrian refugees by becoming independent and self-sufficient by working the products of the land and by sensitizing them to their rights.
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Mrs. Nada Salem-Abisamra
Nada Salem is the Founder, President, and CEO of the International Foundation for Women's Empowerment (IFWE) which she set up in Virginia, USA, in March 2019. IFWE seeks to empower all women and help them thrive on the personal and professional levels, regardless of nationality and religion. IFWE plans to help women reach their fullest potential and achieve their personal best by identifying the challenges they face, putting action plans to address those challenges, and implementing the action plans via the “Leadership Committees for Women’s Empowerment,” the Executive Teams and the Support Committees that they set up in each country and that they train according to the “Leadership, Organizing and Action: Leading Change” pedagogy developed by Harvard Kennedy School of Government Professor, Dr. Marshall Ganz. IFWE also plans to offer educational scholarships and free relevant empowerment workshops at different locations worldwide or online. Moreover, IFWE conducts needs assessments to evaluate different organizations’ and corporations’ needs for women’s empowerment.
Nada is also the founder of the American Foundation for Educational Excellence (AFEE) which she set up in October 2015. It is an organization whose main mission is to improve higher education globally, especially in the Middle-East. AFEE helps universities and different organizations and corporations to pursue excellence and climb the national and international pyramids. They assess needs, evaluate programs, build new programs, facilitate accreditation, and provide guidance throughout the process. AFEE is currently also working on youth leadership in the Arab world.
From October 2013 till March 2019, Nada was the Director of Project Roots/CLFW whose main objective is to help preserve diversity and democracy in Lebanon by registering there all people of Lebanese descent residing in the USA and encouraging them to reconnect with their roots. She mobilized a very large number of people of Lebanese descent residing in the US (and in the world) and got them to believe in the cause. She formed different support committees and recruited a large number of people who would run about 10 registration campaigns in different cities in the US every month. Nada simply put the cause on the world map for people of Lebanese descent in and outside the United States, and made the foundation she was heading a reference with regards to registration of life events in Lebanon.
In 2012, Nada co-founded the Maronite Academy whose main goals are to improve the image of Lebanon in the new generation’s minds in order to incite pride in their Lebanese roots, encourage them to register in Lebanon, and motivate them to encourage their friends and families to register.
From 2006 to 2008, Nada was the administrative director of the Master of Science in Finance Program at GW School of Business. She remained their Assessment of Learning Coordinator for AACSB Accreditation until May 2014.
Nada taught English, EFL, ESL, ESP, and English Communication for more than 20 years both in school and college settings (Saint Joseph University and The George Washington University). She co-created and co-taught at the GWU Graduate School of Education an online Methods Course for Teachers of Arabic as a Foreign Language. Nada is the Co-Editor in Chief of “Teaching World Languages: A Practical Guide- Arabic Edition” (The National Capital Language Resource Center, Washington, DC).
Nada holds a bachelor’s degree in languages (Arabic, French and English), a teaching diploma, and two master's degrees, one in Translation (Attestation de Maîtrise, from Saint Joseph University, USJ- ETIB at Faculte de Langues et de Traduction, where she currently serves on the Advisory Board) and another in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (from the American University of Beirut, AUB). In April 2018, she started working towards an Executive Certificate in Public Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Executive Education; she completed it in May 2019 after having taken the following courses: "Leading Successful Social Programs: Using Evidence to Assess Effectiveness," "Leadership, Organizing and Action: Leading Change," & "Women and Power." Nada also completed almost all coursework towards an Education Doctorate in Curriculum & Instruction and Educational Technology Leadership at The George Washington University, GWU, in Washington, DC.
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