International aid worker in war-torn Iraq to speak in Dayton

International aid worker and author Manal Omar

Manal Omar, director of Iraqi programs at the United States Institute of Peace, will speak in Dayton on January 24.

The Dayton Council on World Affairs (DCOWA) will bring Manal Omar, director of Iraqi programs at the United States Institute of Peace, to Dayton for two events on Monday, Jan. 24.

Omar’s memoir, Barefoot in Baghdad: A Story of Identity—My Own and What It Means to Be a Woman in Chaos, chronicles her time as an aid worker Iraq after American troops entered the country.

“As U.S. troops permanently leave Iraq, Manal Omar will give audiences a clear understanding of the hope for peace in Iraq and other war-torn areas through her work with Women for Women International and the U.S. Institute of Peace,” said Michelle Streeter-Ferrari, director of the Wright State University Center for International Education and DCOWA program administrator.

Omar describes Barefoot in Baghdad as “a Muslim American woman’s story of struggle, sisterhood and surprising love in the chaos of Iraq.” In the book, she describes how she left a job at the World Bank to work as regional coordinator for Women to Women International in Iraq.

In 2007, Omar was named one of the 10 young visionaries shaping Islam in America by Islamica magazine. She has been profiled by such media outlets as the Washington Times, BBC, NPR, Time magazine and Newsweek.

She has written numerous articles and opinion pieces, which have appeared in media outlets throughout the world. She won the silver medal for the Economics/Shell 2001 Global Competition for her paper, “Gender Mobility: The Long and Winding Road to Women and Transportation.”

Streeter-Ferrari said that aid workers like Omar are fostering international peace by helping women around the world.

“Women and children are the voiceless victims of war and conflict around the world,” said Streeter-Ferrari. “Empowering women to make their voices heard, pursue education and make decisions for their future is a key to a society’s path towards peace.”

Omar will speak at a brown bag luncheon from noon to 1 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 24. The luncheon will be held in the Wright State University Women’s Center in 148 Millett Hall on the university’s Dayton Campus. Copies of Omar’s book are available in the Wright State bookstore and Omar will do book signing following the luncheon.

Barefoot in Baghdad chronicle's Omar's time as an aid worker in war-torn Iraq.

Barefoot in Baghdad chronicles Omar's time as an aid worker in war-torn Iraq.

This free, public event is sponsored by the Wright State University Center for International Education, the Wright State Women’s Center and the Wright State Women’s Studies Program.

Later that evening, Omar will speak at Sinclair Community College in the Ponitz Charity Earley Room as part of the DCOWA 2011 Annual General Meeting. A meeting and reception will be held from 5:15 to 6 p.m. Dinner and the main program will begin at 6:30 p.m. A book signing will follow.

Dinner for this event is $40 for DCOWA members, $50 for non-members and $20 for students. Reservations are required and can be made by calling (937) 775-5521.

For more information on DCOWA and membership, please visit

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