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Director Travels to Middle East to Meet with Government and Civil Society Leaders

July 13 – 21, 2008

Andrea Bottner, back row center, and Deborah Emmert, far left, meet with nine of Egypt’s recently-appointed female judges in Cairo. Also in the meeting is Assistant Minister of Justice Osama Ataweya, second from left. [Photo courtesy of May Abdeldayem, U.S. Embassy in Cairo, July 15, 2008]
Director Bottner with Egypt’s female judges, July 15, 2008

Andrea Bottner, the State Department’s Director for International Women’s Issues, traveled to the Middle East in July. The trip included stops to Cairo, Egypt and Amman, Jordan to meet with government and civil society leaders on a number of issues impacting women in the region.

In Cairo, Ms. Bottner met with nine of the recently-appointed female judges, all of whom handle a wide variety of cases in Egypt’s trial courts including commercial, civil, and family law matters.  In addition to meetings with a number of senior government officials, Ms. Bottner met with Dr. Zeinab Radwan, Deputy Speaker of Egypt’s Parliament, where the discussion focused on the newly-passed Child Law.  Director Bottner also visited several women’s rights non-governmental organizations (NGO’s), where discussions included raising awareness of female genital mutilation (FGM), women’s economic empowerment, and family law.

Andrea Bottner congratulates Ambassador Moushira Khattab, president of Egypt’s National Council on Childhood and Motherhood, as a recipient of the 2008 U.S. Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award. [Photo courtesy of May Abdeldayem, U.S. Embassy in Cairo, July 15, 2008]
Director Bottner with Egypt’s International Women of Courage Award recipient, July 15, 2008
In a meeting with Ambassador Moushira Khattab, Ms. Bottner congratulated Egypt’s nominee for  the Secretary of State’s 2008 International Women of Courage Award.  Ambassador Khattab, Secretary General of the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood, was instrumental in the recent passage of Egypt’s Child Law, which criminalizes FGM and trafficking in children, raises the minimum marriage age from 16 to 18, and provides a mechanism for unwed mothers to obtain birth certificates for their children. 

“Thanks to Ambassador Khattab, both the Egyptian government and society have taken concrete and specific steps to eradicate a practice that has long inflicted pain and suffering on the great majority of Egyptian women,” said Ms. Bottner.  “Her vigor and passion in bringing attention to this issue is an inspiration for advocates of human and women’s rights everywhere.”

To conclude her trip in Egypt, Director Bottner met with Boutros Boutros-Ghali, former United Nations Secretary General and current president of Egypt’s National Council on Human Rights, for a broad discussion of human rights issues in the Middle East.

Deborah Emmert, Senior Advisor for the Broader Middle East and North Africa, accompanied Director Bottner on the trip. Following the visit to Egypt, they traveled to Amman, Jordan where they attended meetings with Ms. Nuha Maayta, President of the General Federation of Jordanian Women and Dr. Haifa Abu Ghazaleh, Secretary General of the National Council for Family Affairs. 

While in Amman, Director Bottner honored Jordanian attorney Reem Abu Hassan, who was Jordan’s nominee for the 2008 International Women of Courage Award.  Ms. Hassan holds a number of influential positions, including that of Head of the Directorate for Human Rights and Family Affairs in Jordan’s Ministry of Justice.  She is also a founding member of the Arab Women’s Legal Network and president of the Jordanian Society for Protecting Victims of Family Violence.

“Ms. Hassan’s unceasing work to educate communities on the need for equal protection under the law is an inspiration for all women,” said Ms. Bottner, “And I commend her for using her legal expertise to champion equal rights and legal protection for Jordanian and Arab women, especially in the area of honor crimes. I applaud her work, and will follow with interest her on-going efforts for women's rights.”

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