By Boris Ladwig
Zonta International of Columbus will celebrate Women’s Equality Day with a presentation about women’s rights in the Middle East.
Zonta, which aims to advance the status of women worldwide, will host the event at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Columbus Visitors Center, 506 Fifth St. Sunday marks the 92nd anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which gave women the right to vote.
Keynote speaker Hanna Omar will present an interactive program to discuss women’s rights in the Middle East.
Omar was born in New York, but moved to Yemen, the country of her parents’ birth, at 1-year-old, and lived there for five years before returning to the U.S. Omar holds a master’s degree in political science from Fordham University and recruits volunteers for Developmental Services Inc.
She moved to Columbus in 2010. Her husband, Nebil Baqhum, is a Cummins Inc. engineer.
Omar said she frequently is approached by people in the Columbus community who want to know about her childhood outside the United States, her ethnic background and her religion.
As the community is getting more diverse and people are exposed to more cultures, people have become inquisitive, Omar said.
In her presentation on Monday, Omar said she will start with some basics (defining the Middle East) before talking about women’s rights in education, the workforce and politics.
Omar said she will compare the number of women in primary schools to the number of women in higher education, and discuss why the number of women in the workforce is smaller than the number of women in college.
She said she also will talk about the differences from country to country and regions within countries.
The bulk of her information is based on comprehensive reports from the United Nations, where Omar used to work.
Omar said she hopes the event also will dispel some stereotypes people may have picked up in the media.
Cindy Felsten, legislation chair of Zonta of Columbus, said Zonta hopes the event serves to educate people about Women’s Equality Day.
“Many people do not know it exists,” Felsten said in an email.
“The right to vote was hard and long fought for women, and every woman should be exercising that right especially when the majority of our legislators are men making policy that affects our lives,” she said.
Zonta International has more than 30,000 members in 63 countries, according to its website.
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