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The Arab Dutch Women’s Circle is a human rights organization established in 2002 as a non-profit organization. The organization’s headquarters are in The Hague. Its founder and president, Dr. Tomador Meihuizen-Hassoun, was born in Syria and obtained her doctor’s degree in France. She worked in France and in many Arab countries as a university professor, researcher in the field of women’s and children’s rights and as editor-in-chief of a woman’s magazine (Hajes). Now she works as a consultant of the Middle East.
The Board of the ANVK plays a leadership role in planning, guiding and governing its activities. In order to strive collectively towards gender equality and women’s and children’s rights in the Arab world, the ANVK is working together with its partners, the Netherlands Association of Women with Higher Education, the International Dialogues Foundation, students of the Universities of Amsterdam and Leiden, the Algerian Women’s Association, Bridging the Gulf, and Arab women NGOs in the Netherlands and in Arab countries.
Women’s and children’s rights, gender equality and the empowerment of Arab women to become free to make their own choices, develop their capacities, their talents and their skills, these are chosen as the prime goals of the strategic plan of the ANVK. In addition, the development of Arab societies where governments, women’s, men’s and civil organisations can reinforce each other in the fight against injustice is equally part of our plan of action.
The ANVK was established in 2002 to empower and to support Arab women in the Netherlands and in Arab countries. Combating the growing gender inequality, injustice and violence against women and children in the Arab world has been our core activity ever since. The ANVK will continue to work along the lines of this vision from which it has derived the following mission.
- To strive towards Arab societies free of injustice. The basis for its actions is women rights, gender equality and its values. ANVK wants to support Arab women where they are able to obtain their emancipation, equality and opportunities to participate in decision making processes that determine their live.
- We believe that the respect of children’s rights is absolutely vital to the development of more just and less violent Arab societies. Children are the most vulnerable members of the community, the least able to protect themselves and the most valuable resource for the future of the society.
- The ANVK believes that rolling back injustice can never be done structurally or in a sustainable manner if customs and traditions that cause inequalities are left untouched. It is therefore essential, not only to change and improve legislation concerning women and children, but also to correct the mechanisms and the mentalities that underpin these processes.
Organizing events such as annual mayor conferences, and periodical debates, films, exhibitions and book presentations, that show the situation of Arab women by linking Arab women’s organizations interested in human rights and gender equality with like-minded organizations in the Netherlands to exchange knowledge. The ANVK is engaged in networking, lobbying and the exchange of experience in both Arab countries and the Netherlands. In addition, the ANVK has a number of tools to make the fight against injustice more efficient and to bring it to the attention of the Dutch and Arab public. These include providing ideas, stimulating Dutch NGO` s, the media, political parties, and governmental institutions to support and to help Arab women NGOs in the Netherlands and in Arab countries to fight for their rights, by providing and offering material assistance and trying to influence Arab governments. To this end the ANVK needs to intensify its relations with major players such as Oxfam, Novib, ICCO, Haeilla , HIVOS and the IDF. However, we can not forget the large group of smaller developmental organisations, deeply rooted in Dutch civil society.
Thanks to the successive programmes of the ANVK, many Arab women here in the Netherlands and in Arab countries have been gaining power over their lives and can now live freer from violence and discrimination through changes in attitudes, laws, ideas and beliefs about gender relations, and through increased levels of women’s active engagement in the economy.
The Board is formed by a number of public figures and experts concerned with our mission objectives or working in these fields. It constitutes the highest authority to determine our policies and vision. It suggests programs and follows up on our activities and achievements.
The members are:
Dr. Tomador Meihuizen Hassoun - Director.
Her main research interests revolve around gender theory; feminist activism; women and gender in the Arab World in general and in the Middle East specifically and problems of the urbanization in the Arab countries
Dr. Wil Dijk - Secretary.
Dr. Wil Dijk was born in Kobe (Japan) although at that time Burma’s capital Rangoon was in fact ‘home’ to the family.
During her lifetime she lived for many years in various countries (such as Pakistan, Egypt, Iran, (former) Yugoslavia, America (New York), Czechoslovakia (Prague), and Norway (Oslo). After settling in The Netherlands in the 1980s, she continued her travels, especially to countries in the Middle East and Asia.
She studied Japanology at the Leiden University and went on to earn her Ph.D. with a thesis entitled “Seventeenth Century Burma and the Dutch East India Company, 1634-1680”. She remains a ‘freelance researcher’ and is presently researching the Dutch trade in Asian slaves from around the Bay of Bengal.
Having lived for 15 years continuously in Muslim countries, she has a special interest in and affinity with the Arab-Dutch Women Organization (ANVK).
Louis Hofman - Treasurer.
Born August 26th 1965 and lives at Scheveningen. Manager of private owned real estate as of 2001. In case of leased properties often dealing with expats. Worked in a number of (technical) commercial postings and in view hereof travelled extensively in the Middle East and North Africa from 1990 – 1998. Became then very interested in the Arab world.
Councillors are: 1- Dr. Laila Jordans-Cotran 2- Dr. Maha Najjar 3- Dr. M. de Regt 4- Drs. Ine Vink 5- Drs. Laila Jaffar. 6- Drs. M.arianne Leemstra 7- Maysaloon Fikry.