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Seeing the possibilities in change

Freedoms taken for granted in the United States and Europe are still emerging elsewhere in the world. In Iraq, for instance, millions are entering the political arena for the first time.

For five years, the Protection Project, a human rights research program based at the Foreign Policy Institute, worked to prepare post-war Iraqi women for political action. Operated through the Johns Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, the Protection Project installed the program Preparing Iraqi Women as Leaders, Advocates and Participants, in order to help level the political playing field in the Middle East.

"The program underscored the U.S. government's interest in the equal participation of women in the region," said Mohamed Mattar, executive director of the Protection Project.

"Activities reflected the understanding that women's participation is crucial to a successful and fair democratic process in the new Iraq."

The program educated Iraqi women about the political process while informing them of their rights. The Protection Project hosted workshops to teach leadership and organizing skills.

The Protection Project is also working with Iraqi NGOs and other elements of civil society to raise awareness of human trafficking and other human rights violations.

Currently the Protection Project is working with the Iraqi government on drafting comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation that does not only criminalize trafficking but protects and assists victims of trafficking.

Forged during World War II, the Johns Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies began with just 15 students. At the time, its mission was to provide young men and women the skills necessary to lead a postwar world. Today, with approximately 15,000 alumni around the world, the school's graduates work for numerous agencies in more than 140 countries.

The Johns Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies enrolls about 600 full-time students at its Washington D.C. campus, approximately 190 students at the Bologna Center in Italy and about 140 students at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center in China. Forty percent of those enrolled at the Washington D.C. campus are non-U.S. citizens and represent more than 70 countries.

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