WASHINGTON - July 25 - President George W. Bush will meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki today to discuss a strategy to improve security conditions in Iraq. While continued dialogue among world leaders is crucial for forming sound policy, the Education for Peace in Iraq Center (EPIC) encourages President Bush and Prime Minister Maliki to seek solutions for Iraq by listening to voices from the ground.
To amplify these voices, EPIC introduces "The Ground Truth," a unique and timely interview series that captures the on-the- ground perspectives of Iraqis, aid workers, military personnel and others who have lived or served in Iraq. By offering a range of perspectives that represent diverse concerns, EPIC hopes these interviews will inspire meaningful policy change and citizen action in support of a better future for all Iraqis.
The first interview, to be released tomorrow, July 26, will feature Dr. Nadje Al-Ali, an acclaimed expert and author on women and gender issues in Iraq. Dr. Ali is a senior lecturer at University of Exeter (UK) and the author of "Secularism, Gender and the State in the Middle East: The Egyptian Women's Movement" (Cambridge Middle East Studies, July 2000).
A German-born Iraqi who has visited Iraq throughout her life, Ali offers important insight into the greatest issues facing Iraqi women today. She notes the historical framework surrounding the debate over women in Iraqi civil society, Western perceptions of Iraqi women, and the work of women in the Iraqi Diaspora. But at the heart of her interview is a genuine concern for current and future prospects for Iraqi women.
"I think women may be the biggest losers in Iraq today," declares Ali. "Looking historically at other conflicts in Iraq, I think women too often were told, 'Let's liberate the country first, and then we'll look at women's issues.' But it hasn't worked that way, and now it might be too late."
In the coming weeks, EPIC will release subsequent interviews with major stakeholders, including Shahla Waliy, country director for Counterpart International in Iraq; Lamia Jamal Talabani, founder and president of Voice of Independent Women Organization and an accomplished Iraqi artist; and Jonathan Powers, a soldier who returned from Iraq and founded the War Kids Relief fund.
EPIC's first interview with Dr. Ali is available here: http://dev.epic-usa.org/files/EPIC/the_Ground_Truth.pdf.
Spokespersons available for comment:
Nadje Al-Ali, Ph.D., a senior lecturer at University of Exeter (UK) and noted expert on women and gender issues in Iraq.
Erik Gustafson, EPIC director and veteran of the 1991 Gulf War.