Six leading female civil society leaders from Haiti, the U.S., Sri Lanka, India and Ethiopia are in Israel for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) First International Women’s Leadership Workshop that opens today. The 5-day workshop will provide educational, networking and professional development opportunities in disaster relief and global development. Additionally, individual meetings and site visits have been tailored for each leader according to their specific interests – children’s welfare, healthcare, disabilities, education and employment.

“One of the more outstanding features of social change we’ve witnessed in places affected by natural disaster, war, or poverty, is the incredible leadership provided by women. We are thrilled to have these extraordinary women join us in Israel for this workshop, which not only sheds light on JDC’s expertise in the field, but is another expression of our long-term commitment to investing in women as transformative forces in their communities,” said JDC CEO Steven Schwager.

The participants, who have served as partners to JDC in countries where it is conducting humanitarian efforts, include:

  • Dr. Loune Viaud, co-Executive Director for Zanmi Lasante, Partners in Health’s sister organization in Haiti;
  • Maryse Penette Kedar, President of the ProDev (Progress and Development) Foundation in Haiti;
  • Mirai Chatterjee, Director of the Social Security at Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in India, a union of 1.3 million women workers in the informal economy;
  • Sharadha de Saram, a social entrepreneur, writer and communications specialist in Sri Lanka;
  • Tegest Heruy Belayneh, Senior Director of the Clinic, Pharmacy, Cafeteria and Girls’ Education program at Unity University in Ethiopia;
  • Danielle Butin, Founder and Executive Director of the Afya Foundation, a medical supply provider organization in New York.

The workshop will consist of sessions on empowering women as change leaders, building partnerships and best practices exchange. Participants will spend one day visiting JDC’s Israel programs, where JDC, together with the Government of Israel, ensures the most vulnerable populations have opportunities to fully participate and succeed in Israeli society.

There will also be participant-based workshops where each woman is presenting an aspect of her work to the group for comment and discussion. Topics include: Does Charitable Giving for Karma Lead to Social Change? How Does One Do Asset-Based Community Development in Low-Resource Haiti? How Can Ethiopian Women Move from Illiteracy to University? In addition, informal networking sessions and touring throughout the country will be provided.