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On 1st US Trip, Saudi Women Compare Experiences at NGOs

On 1st US Trip, Saudi Women Compare Experiences at NGOs

A delegation of Saudi Arabian women visits campus to exchange knowledge about the workings of nongovernmental organizations with Jocelyn Guihama, the executive director of the UCLA Center for Civil Society.

By Yester Sabondzhyan

A group of seven distinguished Saudi Arabian women, leaders in various nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), visited UCLA on Monday, July 19, 2010, in hopes of broadening their understanding of NGOs located in Southern California. They met with Jocelyn Guihama, the executive director of the UCLA Center for Civil Society.

Through separate organizations, each of the women works to assist single mothers, orphans, victims of abuse, and the poor and disadvantaged with various programs that range from public awareness campaigns to job training. The delegation wanted to make clear that although they work in different regions, they work towards common goals. Roughly 80 percent of staff members at Saudi NGOs, which must be approved by the Ministry of Social Affairs to operate legally, are women, according to one of the visitors.

In the course of the meeting, the participants touched upon UCLA's role in civil society, academic studies of NGOs, and research conducted at the UCLA School of Public Affairs and elsewhere with the aim of strengthening communities.

Some of the visitors discussed the specific concerns of their organizations. Fawziya Abdulghane A. Aldhaman, chairperson of media and public relations for Alata’a Society for Women, said that her organization supports theater and other performances out of a belief that a connection to one's culture through art empowers women. Secretary General Mona Ibrahim M. Albraik of the Al Janoub Society for Women said that the organization specializes in awareness campaigns regarding women’s issues before, during and after marriage, and offers couseling services. The National Family Safety Program, where Sirin Omran J. Almadani works as a research assistant, deals with domestic violence and child abuse.

For UCLA's part, Guihama explained to the visitors, the primary goal is to "engage the university with the community" in a variey of assistance programs and in related research. In an annual report related to NGOs, UCLA offers recommendations to public agencies and the non-profit sector on the operation of local NGOs. The report is presented at a conference of 200 civic leaders who have a strong hold on activities in civil society, she said.

The Saudi delegation included:

Monirah Daood A. Alali
Professor, History Department, King Saud University
Board Member, Mawada Society

Mona Ibrahim M. Albraik
Secretary General, Al Janoub Society for Women, Abha

Fawziya Abdulghane A. Aldhaman
Chairperson of Media and Public Relations, Alata’a Society for Women

Hind Mayah O. Alharbi
Finance Coordinator, King Abdulaziz Society for Women

Shaikhah Saleem S. Alharbi
General Director, Aja Philanthropic Association for Women, Ha’il

Sirin Omran J. Almadani
Reaseach Assistant, National Family Safety Program, King Abdulaziz Medical City

Ayeshah Saad M. Althumaili
Accountant, Aja Philanthropic Association for Women, Ha’il

The delegation's program was sponsored by the U.S. State Department through the International Visitor Leadership Program. It was administered locally by the International Visitors Council of Los Angeles, and the itinerary at UCLA was arranged by the International Institute's International Visitors Bureau.

International Visitors Bureau