Virtual Teleconference One

Barbara Rubio


Virtual 1 Teleconferences offer presentations from women working on international projects related to (1) building leadership and opportunity for women (2) engaging, educating and empowering youth (3) creating alliances with men in leadership positions in their communities. Recent Virtual 1 presentations have included projects in Libya, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Nepal, and Zimbabwe.

Virtual One Teleconference with Claire Charamnac, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Women LEAD, Nepal

On July 2nd, Claire Charamnac presented AWIU members with a rich presentation of the work that her organization, Women LEAD, is doing to build educational opportunities and  leadership among young girls in Nepal. Claire, an AWIU Passport to the Future member for the Washington, DC Chapter, had just recently returned from a work visit to Nepal and briefed members on emerging developments for her organization.

More on Women LEAD from its Co-Founders:

Women LEAD Co-Founders, Claire Naylor and Claire Charamnac

Women LEAD Co-Founders, Claire Naylor and Claire Charamnac

Women LEAD was an idea born out of a dorm room at Georgetown University during our junior year. Our experiences witnessing discrimination against women in our home countries, Nepal and Singapore, shaped our common commitment to women’s empowerment.

Claire Naylor grew up in a rural Nepali village where she witnessed firsthand the overwhelming gender inequality in Nepal. Claire Charamnac grew up in Singapore and interned at women’s rights NGOs there throughout university. In 2010, she went to Nepal to conduct research on the role of women in post-conflict Nepal.

As young leaders ourselves, we understand the importance of empowering girls with the same opportunities as those given to boys. We started Women LEAD because we identified the need for professional and leadership development in Kathmandu.

In January 2010, we found out about a summer opportunity to start a community project through our school. We entered a social entrepreneurship competition organized by Ashoka Youth Venture and won a $1,000 grant to start our project. With that, the seed for Women LEAD was planted.

We came to Nepal in the summer of 2010 and ran a two-week leadership development course for 28 girls. It was successful because the program had a far bigger impact on our girls than we had expected—they were so enthusiastic about Women LEAD that they wanted to invite their sisters and friends to join. By the end of the program, we knew we did not want to leave this as a one-time project. We realized that we had an effective and unique model, one that has become much bigger than we ever imagined.

After graduation, in the summer of 2011, we officially launched Women LEAD. Since our first summer program we have built a youth-driven and youth-led organization with more than 700 young women leaders. Today, Women LEAD continues to contribute to the Nepal we envision: a Nepal where women and girls speak with amplified voices; families and schools support and applaud girls’ accomplishments; and institutions prioritize the professional development of women.

To learn more visit their website:

Virtual One to Host Teleconference on July 23rd with Lizzabetty Mhangami, Founder and Executive Director of Vanavevhu

You are invited to attend and participate in a Virtual 1 teleconference featuring the work of Elizabeth “Lizzbetty” Mhangami, Founder and Executive Director of Vanavevhu (“Children of the Soil”) in Zimbabwe.

Date:  Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Time:  8 PM Eastern, 7 PM Central, 6 PM Mountain, 5 PM Pacific

Call-In Information: Please contact Barbara Rubio at for this information

Lizzbetty Mhangami, Founder and Executive Director of Vanavevhu

Lizzbetty Mhangami, Founder and Executive Director of Vanavevhu

Lizzbetty introduced her work with Vanavevhu at a Virtual 1 teleconference last October. Vanavevhu supports families where children, who have lost their parents to AIDS, are now running their households, with its emphasis on moving young heads of household toward self-sufficiency by providing essential skills needed to succeed in work and life through a mixture of basic and technical training.  This past October Lizzbbetty introduced us to Vanavevhu and her compelling project.   On Wednesday she will be bringing us up-to-date on the success and challenges she has encountered this year.

Along with her update, Lizzbetty will be providing us with an overview of organizations and diplomatic contacts of interest to a possible delegation to Zimbabwe, Zambia, and South Africa.

For information about Vanavevhu, “Children of the Soil”, please click on the link:

Please RSVP if you plan to attend at It is important in the planning of the teleconference.

Announcing Upcoming Teleconference  – A presentation and discussion with Aissa Wandarama

Date:  Tuesday, November 5th, 2013 — 7 PM Eastern Time
Time:   7 PM Eastern Time (6 PM Central, 5 PM Mountain, 4 PM Pacific)

Presentation: AWIU Passport to the Future member, Aissa Laouan Wandarama, will speak with us about the general life experience of women in Niger along with the work young women leaders are doing to better the lives of women and families.   As the winner from Niger in the 2013 All Bar None Competition, Aissa attended the One Young World Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, this past summer.  To give you an overview of some of Aissa’s projects and undertakings:

  • Aissa serves on the Board of Directors and elected Cultural and Social Affairs Officer of the Nigerian      Association of Michigan, which chooses a different projects each year, based on urgency of need in Niger. This year’s focus has been on sending medical supplies and equipment to hospitals and health centers.
  • Aissa is working in collaboration with other young leaders on a climate change project to be implemented in Niger, the Ivory Coast, Togo, and Benin, sensitizing youth on climate change impacts and empowering them to build networks of climate activists capable of      mobilizing communities and undertaking bold and appropriate actions.
  • A main interest of Aissa at this time is the development of a project geared to girl’s education and women’s empowerment.  In Aissa’s words: “Stay tuned!”

As one of AWIU’s most recent Passports to the Future, Aissa is delighted to have a chance to share her work  with us and looks forward to your participation and input.

Presentation and discussion with Elizabeth Mhanami from Zimbabwe

Date:  Wednesday, October 23
Time:   1:30 PM Eastern; 12:30 PM Central; 11:30 AM Mountain, 10:30 AM Pacific
Location: Teleconference for AWIU members and Guests of AWIU members

Elizabeth Mhanami is the Founder and Executive Director of Vanavevhu (“Children of the Soil”) in Zimbabwe.  She will be talking with us about the successes and challenges of her work.  Vanavevhu supports families where children, who have lost their parents to AIDS, are now running their households, with its emphasis on moving young heads of household toward self-sufficiency by providing essential skills needed to succeed in work and life through a mixture of basic and technical training.

October 25 9 AM

PDT Focus North Africa


NEXT MEETING October 25, 9 AM PDT The Second in the North Africa Series.  Everyone welcome–members and observers.

Call in 605 – 475 – 6150 Code: 988993 #

BALKANS DELEGATION REPORTS: June 4, 2012 Delegation Blog 

UPDATE April 1 2012

The focus of the Virtual Chapter 1 this year has been on researching the history and selected women’s organizations in the Balkans. This work has been instrumental in generating interest as well as in laying the groundwork for the AWIU Delegation to the Balkans, scheduled for June of this year.

Click here for an overview of our itinerary and some of our planned activities.

Thirteen AWIU members will be participating in the Balkan Delegation: Gayle Morin, Delegation Leader; Barbara Rubio, Delegation Coordinator; Kathleen Hunt, AWIU President; Kathleen Huston; Diana Kruse; Joan McEachern; Magda Fehema-Sharkase; Merry Lee Eilers; Judith Jakaltis; Judy Russell; Susan Cuse; Shirley Dockstader; Sharon Kolby


RECOMMENDED BOOKS ON THE BALKANS (Ongoing contributions welcome!)

*Blagojevic, Bojana: Story of One Heart: How Poetry Became One Girl’s Dance For Life in the Midst of Raging War

Deliso, Christopher: Culture and Customs of Serbia and Montenegro

Galloway, S. The Cellist of Sarajevo

Glenny, Misha: The Balkans: Nationalism, War and the Great Powers

Glenny, Misha: The Fall of Yugoslavia

Huntley, Paula: The Hemingway Book Club of Kosovo

Judah, Tim: Kosovo: War and Revenge

Kaplan, Robert: Balkan Ghosts

MacShane, Denis: Why Kosovo Still Matters

Malcolm, Noel: Bosnia: A Short History

Malcom, Noel: Kosovo: A Short History

Manning, Olivia: Balkan Trilogy: Fortunes of War

Mertus, Julie: Kosovo: How Myths and Truths Started a War

Murphy, Devla: Through the Embers of Chaos: Balkan Journey

Sunibm Scott: Pretty Bird

Wachtel, Andrew Baruch: The Balkans in World History

West, Rebecca: Black Lamb and Gray Falcon

Woodward, Susan: The Balkan Tragedy
* Bojana is a member of AWIU.  Click here for a description of her book along with biographical information.

Recommended Movies ( Accessible through NetFlix)

When Father was Away on Business – 1985, Bosnian director Emil Kusturica won the Cannes Golden Palm Drama Award for this. Tensions between Russia and Yugoslavia in early 50’s. The story is told from viewpoint of a six year old Malik who is unaware of the reason of his father’s absence.

Grbavica: The Land of My Dreams – 2006, Jasmila Zbanic’s prize-winning film- The central figure discovers that her father was not a war martyr as she had believed. In fact her mother had been one of the 20,000 Bosnian women to suffer in a civil-war rape camp.
Witnesses – 2004, Vinko Bresnan’s political drama explores ethnic hatred and moral ambiguity against a backdrop of war. In a small Croatian town, a Serbian man has been murdered, and each character’s perspective reveals new clues and interpretations of the crime. As police investigate the murder, truth proves an elusive and subjective concept in an environment of deep-seated eminity.

The Whistleblower – 2010, Sent to Bosnia to train cops in the aftermath of that country’s brutal civil war, American policewoman Kathryn Bolkovac (Rachel Weisz) uncovers evidence that U.N. peacekeepers are complicit in a flourishing sex-trafficking trade. But when she brings her allegations to light, she discovers that her foes are more powerful than the law. Based on a true story,

No Man’s Land – 2001, During the Bosnian War, two soldiers, a Bosnian and a Serb, find themselves pinned down in a trench, while a wound grunt lies prone on a land mine that could blow them all to smithereens. The plot seems cadged straight out of Eugene Ionesco’s Theatre of the Absurd.

Do You Remember DollyBell? 1981, Acclaimed Bosnian director, Emir Kusturica’s deeply affecting film, made early in his career, features a young cinema buff named Dino, who, seduced by mob capers he sees in the theater, enters a life of crime, unable to tell the difference beteen glossy cinematic adventures and real-life grit. But that all changes hen Dino means Dolly Bell, a prostitute for whom he falls madly in love.

Pretty Village, Pretty Flame 1996 Childhood friends from the 1980’s, a Muslim and a Serb, must fight on opposing sides of the war in Bosnia in 1992. As the soldiers find themselves trapped and waiting to die, all they can do is meditate on their existence. The film provides a provocative and haunting portrait of a war-torn region.

Welcome to Sarajevo 1997, Michael Winterbottom’s hearbreaking film about war-torn Bosnia. English reporter risks his life to help spirit an orphan child out of the country even as he competes ith an American journalist to get his story.

In the Land of Blood and Honey 2011 Angelina Jolie directs and acts in this film depicting the horrors of systematic rape during Bosnia’s war of 1992-95.

Click here for review of “In the Land of Blood and Honey” by Peter Lippman

U.S. Department of State –


Bosnia and Herzogovina





U.S. Department of State – Press Releases

News from the U.S. Embassy in Serbia

News from the U.S. Embassy in Bosnia

News from the U.S. Embassy in Kosovo

News from the U.S. Embassy In Croatia

News from the U.S. Embassy in Slovenia

News from the U.S. Embassy in Hungary

Bosnia After Dayton: Challenges That Lie Ahead National Democratic Institute for Internat’l Affairs

Balkan Women work to push through barriers National Democratic Institute for International Affairs

Roma Political Participation Initiative National Democratic Institute  for International Affairs

Youth Leaders Declaration from Belgrade Summit Seeks Regional Cooperation and Peace National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.

History of the Former Yugoslavia Matt Rosenberg, NY Times journalist

Map of the Former Yugoslav Wikipedia, cartographer of the United Nations

Check your email for a phone number to call if you have problems.  I will e mail that number friday night late after I find a volunteer to take your call.  We use this number a lot and it’s rare to have
Log of Recent Virtual Meetings

LOG OF VIRTUAL 1 MEETINGS: Balkan Delegation