Syrian advocate for young Muslim women honoured at US gala
2016-03-14 13:55:45 -
Human Rights

By Staff Reporter


A Syrian national and former Dublin City University student has been honoured by the US-based Women’s Initiative for Self Empowerment (Wise) and Arab Student Union.

Kinda Darwish-Laffiteau, who works for the International Rescue Committee (IRC) assisting refugees, was recognised for her work with young Muslim women at a gala in New York on 1 March to mark International Women’s Day.

At the IRC offices in Dallas, Texas, Darwish-Laffiteau runs a support group dealing with women’s health and wellness issue, working to ensure that Syrian, Iraqi and Afghan refugees receive both physical and mental health services.

She also works for Wise, a co-sponsor of the gala, as its regional director in Texas, providing training and workshops that teach self-defence and leadership skills to young Muslim women, and is an active member of the Daughters of Abraham, an interfaith community of Christian, Jewish and Muslim women.

Darwish-Laffiteau, who earned her Master’s degree in development studies from Dublin City University, previously spent eight years working for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on programmes involving population and development as well as gender and communication. 

She was a key contributor to the Modernisation of Vocational Education and Training in Syria, a project sponsored by the European Union (EU).

Speaking about her experience with Wise, Darwish-Laffiteau said she was delighted that it gives her the opportunity to share her gender, development and communication knowledge, work and personal experience in order to inspire young Muslim women in Texas, and equip them with the skills and self-confidence they need to follow their dreams and become role models for other young women in their local communities.

“Although I was surprised and honoured to be named the director of the year at the Wise gala,” she said after the event, “I truly believe if you love God and love the work you do for Him then you will also be blessed with a happy and successful life.”

She added that she strongly believes, in the words of leadership expert Sheila Murray Bethel, that “one of the most courageous things you can do is identify yourself, know who you are, what you believe in and where you want to go.”

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