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The AWARE initiative (Arab American Women Advocating for Resources and Empowerment) commenced in April 2004 when the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) in Michigan began exploring ways to address issues and challenges that are particular to Arab American women and women in the Arab World.ADC tackled this initiative with the pretext that it is vital for female leaders in the Arab World and the United States to work to ensure that women are afforded the right to a solid education,the chance at pursuing a successful career and the opportunity to develop into great leaders. Through the connectivity of Arab women in the United States and women in the Arab World, and through facilitated dialogue between one another, ADC hopes to strengthen relationships and build bridges of understanding between the East and the West.
It is with this sentiment that an ADC Michigan delegation of nine Arab American women traveled to the Middle East in May 2004. During this initial two-week stay in the region, the delegation visited Jordan, Syria and Lebanon and met with Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan, First Lady Asmaa Al-Assad of Syria and First Lady Andre Lahud of Lebanon, along with key parliamentarians, government officials, NGO’s and humanitarian activists. Through a series of meetings, the delegation was able to establish a solid mission for continued dialogue that will benefit both the US and the Arab World in the areas of increased awareness, education and tolerance, and was also able to efficiently strategize on how to make this dialogue most effective. ADC’s initiative to build bridges of understanding was welcomed and encouraged by the governments and people of these countries.