Meet Human Rights Advocate Heba Al-Adawy '10

Tuesday, January 13, 2009 - 10:15

Posted: January 13, 2008

In the midst of war, genocide, and acts of terrorism, Heba Al-Adawy ’10, an international student from Pakistan, has become an advocate for those who face such hardships every day.

An international relations major, Al-Adawy is cochair of the Lyons Network, an organization of professional women and students dedicated to advancing career and leadership opportunities for women. At the organization’s 2007 Global Leadership conference she met Iain Guest, executive director and cofounder of the Advocacy Project.

The experience led to an internship in Washington, D.C., last summer with the nongovernmental organization (NGO), which advances social justice by supporting individuals and groups promoting advocacy in communities all over the world. This gave Al-Adawy the opportunity to make presentations on human rights issues to high school students at Global Young Leadership conferences and to organize outreach activities for a Central African project aiding the reintegration of child soldiers and conflict survivors.

Al-Adawy was inspired by the work of the organization's Peace Fellows, graduate students whose advocacy projects include working with blind children in Bangladesh and organizing the exhibition of a memorial quilt made by widows of the Srebrenica Massacre. As a result, she's now working with Guest to increase students' sociopolitical awareness by bringing chapters of the Advocacy Project to college campuses. Chapters are in the works at Colgate and Cornell, but Mount Holyoke's will be the first. She recently organized a panel discussion at Mount Holyoke on post-conflict reconciliation in Bosnia and Rwanda, and she's planning to bring more speakers to campus next semester; she also hopes to raise awareness about reproductive health issues affecting women in Nepal.

“There are times when we can all feel very pessimistic and helpless. But after watching the (fellows) take these small steps to really change the lives of a few, one feels a sense of purpose,” she said. “Every single effort you put into it matters.”

Related Links:

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Advocacy Project

McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives