Helen Zughaib, Syrian Migration 22
Featured Speaker: former First Lady of Afghanistan Rula Ghani
The marginalization and challenges faced by refugee women and women in conflict zones ranging from Afghanistan to Ukraine are far greater and systemically entrenched. The effects of war and conflict continue for years after the fighting ends, as many women are left widowed, and many children are orphaned, and communities are facing the challenging realities of reconstructions.
There is a glimmer of hope: recent studies have shown the transformative power of artisanship: handicrafts provide a space of multicultural recognition, represent memorialization for second and third generation migrants, hold potential for trauma expression, and a vessel to communicate a unified message that we are all part of one human family – all this while creating a platform for women to sustain themselves economically. This program describes how Women Forward International (WFI), a nonprofit that partners graduate students with organizations to make their research of service to humanity applicable today, is making the economic empowerment of refugee women possible.
WFI's series of events, both public and private, will bring together our global ambassador supporters from a dozen embassies in Washington, fashion influencers and philanthropists, and Ukrainian and Afghan women designers and artisans. They will be artistic and music-filled programs designed to uplift our understanding of the contributions of women artisans to the world, and a landmark showcase for sustainable fashion projects that empower women refugees in conflict zones.
Featuring WFI partner fashion designer Mehera Blum of Blumera, Ms. Blum will share her one-of-a-kind artisan-crafted sustainable masterpieces from Afghanistan, which have graced venues from the 2022 Met Gala to the most recent Oscar red carpet.
About the Global Ambassadors Initiative
WFI's Global Ambassadors' Initiative is a conglomeration of enlightened leaders dedicated to unity, collaboration, and service. We begin our work by empowering women in conflict zones through opportunities for gainful employment, to enable them to rebuild their lives and protect their cultural heritage and traditions. We will launch in Washington, DC this autumn. Stay tuned!
WFI Student Installations
Fashion Revolution in collaboration with Middlebury College of International Studies International Environmental Policy Program
Nest in collaboration with The Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po)
The Rollins Enterprise Center in Rose Town in collaboration with The Prince’s Foundation
Mehera Blum, Founder & Creative Director of Blumera, through her creations, will take the audience on a journey of exploration through a myriad of cultures from our upcoming project Designs for a New Humanity, Empowering Women Artisans in Myanmar and Afghanistan.
Ms. Blum creates high-vibratory, uplifting collections utilizing unexpected natural, sustainable materials such as recycled brass, up-cycled wood, and semi-precious stones, through designs inspired by the natural landscapes, the artisanal and architectural culture and the spiritual essence of the regions.
Helen Zughaib, Painter & Multi-Media Artist, will share a small selection of her works to promote the creation of empathy and a shared space for introspection and dialogue. Her goal is “To give voice to the voiceless, to heal, and to reflect in our shared humanity.”
Patrick Beldio, Ph.D., is a teacher, scholar, and artist whose college courses have ranged from theology to art and religion to studio art. His current book project is on the Mother (working title) "Mirra Afassa: Mother and Child of the Divine of
Tomorrow." Dr. Beldio's new sculpture representing the transformative power of love on humanity will have its inaugural exhibition at WFI's events this autumn.