As an economist, Haifa Fahoum Al Kaylani has long held the belief that a society cannot truly prosper without utilizing the resources of its women. She has wide international exposure in government and business circles and held senior roles in several organizations in the United Kingdom and internationally. So it was a natural progression that in 2001 Al Kaylani founded the London-based nonprofit Arab International Women’s Forum out of her desire to promote Arab women’s participation in business, government and society throughout the Arab world and the global community.
"We are there to effect positive growth and development, and with it peace and prosperity by focusing on women’s roles in the Arab world and the international community," she says of the forum’s purpose. "There is no development in any society without women playing their rightful role. This is very important for the future development of the region as optimizing and fully utilizing all the human resources and is an essential factor in this growth."
Born in Palestine as Haifa Fahoum and raised in Lebanon, Al Kaylani is the eldest of five sisters. She was educated in English-speaking schools, speaks five languages and feels equally at home in the Arab and Western worlds. Al Kaylani studied economics at the American University of Beirut where she later earned a master’s degree in economic development. In between, she received a diploma in economic development from Oxford University.
After working as a junior economist for the United Nations for two years, Al Kaylani married her husband, Ambassador Wajih Al Kaylani in 1970. They moved to the United Kingdom permanently in 1976, although they also spend time in Jordan and Lebanon. They have one son, Sirri, a lawyer.
In 1999 and 2000 Al Kaylani, as the president of the International Federation of Women’s Associations in London, launched conferences for Arab, British, European, American and international women working in business, government and civil service that inspired the founding of the forum. With the motto "Building Bridges, Building Business," she initiated Arab International Women’s Forum, a formal network of Arab and international businesswomen as well as female community leaders, to expand the growing role of women in the global marketplace and decision-making.
Through the forum, approximately 1,500 associations, individuals, corporations and partnerships from 45 nations on six continents build relationships, exchange ideas, develop business potential and promote their organizations. The bottom line: The forums help Arab women to increasingly become "part and parcel of the international community," Al Kaylani says.
In 2005, the forum launched the program Women as Engines of Economic Growth in the Arab World that produced a report and recommendations to enhance women’s roles in the economy. The report stresses the value of education to empower women to succeed in both public and private sectors of society along with the need for more accessible vocational and information technology training. The report also calls upon governments and corporations to create the right constitutional and institutional environment that will remove barriers for women’s active participation in business.
In addition to her work with the forum, Al Kaylani is also a board member of the Suzanne Mubarak Women’s International Peace Movement, a board member of the Women’s Leadership Board at Harvard University and vice president of the European Women for Achievement Awards in the United Kingdom.
— By Karen James.
Oglala Lakota Karen Artichoker was working for the Indian Health Service in 1981 as a mental health technician when she decided to take one of her female patients to a domestic-violence support group in Rapid City, S.D.
Her patient stayed silent, head down, during the "big old blaming session," as Artichoker puts it. Artichoker had taken a women’s studies course in college and had been turned off by this kind of thing before: "A bunch of women sitting around and whining endlessly about men." But when they got in the car to go home, her patient opened up. "That was exactly what he said to me!" she exclaimed. "That could have been me!"
The next week Artichoker took a few more women from the unit. The third week, Artichoker had to get a bigger car to take more women from the community to the support group.
A fiercely independent thinker, Artichoker finally sat down with the facilitator and said, "OK, there is something here I don’t understand." She wanted to comprehend why the support group had been so powerful for the women from her community.
At that moment Artichoker’s role as a visionary leader in the domestic-violence movement began. She is now the co-founder of Cangleska Inc., the most comprehensive domestic violence program in the United States, located on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
"Any thoughts I had about discrimination up to that point were around being Native, not about being a woman," says Artichoker. "I remembered that when I graduated from high school the guidance counselor recommended cosmetology school because I had done someone’s hair in home ec and it looked nice. Suddenly I was outraged."
This anger, coupled with her commitment to her community, propelled her to create Cangleska, which means "medicine wheel." Artichoker has a comprehensive view of social change. "Our people need to be strengthened emotionally, economically, you name it," she says. This view is reflected in the programming at Cangleska, which includes everything from men’s re-education about violence to probation counseling.
Artichoker notes that the programming has a spiritual foundation.
"Our situation is so extreme and so unrelenting here that our work really ends up being about offering hope," she says. "Our ancestors didn’t suffer so we would end up like this. We all want better lives for our children."
— By Courtney Martin.
It was 1994 and Carol Bernick was about to be named head of a major unit of Alberto-Culver. She was staring down, however, at the possibility of dissolving a failing sector of her company, makers of Alberto V05, TRESemme,St. Ives skin care, Mrs. Dash, Baker’s Joy and a variety of other personal care and household products. Profit margins were slipping and good people were leaving. But, as those who have encountered Bernick know, she doesn’t dissolve easily.
Instead, she revises.
"I knew that what I needed to do was remarket Culver," Bernick says, "not only to the public, but to our own employees." Bernick did extensive interviews with her staff to "get inside their heads."
She was pleasantly surprised to find that what motivated them was also what motivated her: hard work and family. In response, she shaped Alberto-Culver, located in Melrose Park, Ill., into the kind of culture that champions and rewards excellence. She recognized that top performers–and especially the women who work in a company which focuses its marketing and product development efforts on womenâ€™s needs–needed a mentoring and two-way communication program that would recognize their work-family balance needs. Out of this new look at the culture came a nationally-recognized program called Growth Development Leaders. These in-house mentors serve as a two-way communications link with company management and take responsibility for a small group of company employees to ensure that their personal concerns and needs are addressed and that the group is fully in sync with the companyâ€™s operational needs and culture.
"I will absolutely put my children first before anything on this planet and I expect nothing less from my employees," she says. "The ability to have a working woman say that and run a company is a good thing."
In 2005, Bernick was named National Working Mother of the Year by the Moms in Business Network and its sister association, the International Association of Working Mothers.
Since Bernick’s remarketing efforts, the consumer product sales have more than doubled, pre-tax profits have quadrupled and margins have tripled. In an acknowledgement of her success, Bernick was named in December one of Chicago’s 100 Most Powerful Women by the Chicago Sun-Times.
Now chair of the company, Bernick traces the impetus to transform the Alberto-Culver culture not only to falling sales but to her desire to spend more time with her own three kids.
They were also the inspiration for her "after-work work," in which she is raising millions of dollars and counting for Chicago’s Prentice Women’s Hospital and Maternity Center of Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
Prentice Hospital saved her premature baby in 1981, just a year after she had lost another in childbirth. "One day I got a call from the hospital asking for help," she says. "They had just put a 7-pound, premature baby in my arms, after I had lost one a year prior. I would have done anything for them."
— By Courtney Martin.
Anna Burger is the highest-ranking woman in the history of the U.S. labor movement.
In addition to serving as secretary-treasurer of the 1.8 million-strong Service Employees International Union, Burger joined the heads of six major AFL-CIO breakaway unions and one other to form the Change to Win Federation in September 2005. The alliance of approximately 5.4 million members is working to rebuild the American labor movement, which has declined from 35 percent of the private-sector labor force half a century ago to approximately 8 percent today. Burger came to her job from a union that has 56 percent female membership and a host of locals with female presidents. And throughout the unions that are part of Burger’s alliance, the female membership and leadership continues to grow.
"I was truly honored," Burger says, about being asked by the male leaders of the major unions to chair the new federation. "It was an amazing moment, and I was struck by what it could mean not only for the federation, but for working women everywhere to see a woman in this type of leadership role."
Women, Burger says, aren’t just union members to be organized. They should also be decision-making leaders at every level. "It’s important for women to be involved. I want to give a voice to working women and their families."
Burger grew up in the 1950s as one of five children in Levittown, Pa. Her mother was a nurse and her father was a Teamster who became disabled in an accident when Burger was 9. Thanks to a strong union movement, Burger says the family was able to have a decent life. "My parents were able to own their own home and I was able to go to college," she says.
After graduating from Pennsylvania State University in 1972 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, she became a state case worker with the Philadelphia County Board of Assistance’s Department of Public Welfare, and joined the SEIU Local 668. She had been working for a month in a converted Philadelphia warehouse when a rainstorm sent water pouring onto her co-workers and the electrical wiring.
She called her father to talk over the situation. "Whatever you do, stick to the union, it’s what makes a difference for working people like us," he told her. As she led her co-workers in a walkout demanding better working conditions, her union leadership began.
Burger rose through the union ranks to eventually join its national staff in 1990. She played a major role in SEIU’s recognition of women’s choice as a key issue for health care workers and has worked to help women achieve better standards of living by organizing groups that are traditionally difficult to mobilize such as the heavily female home health care and child care professions. She also brings a unique perspective to the traditionally male-dominated sector.
"As a mother, the head of a new labor federation, and a top officer of America’s fastest growing union, I see that the changes happening in the workplace are having a profound impact on women’s ability to balance work life and family life," she says.
Since both the work force and workplace have changed, the priorities of unions must also change. Unions are no longer just about wages and benefits, she says. "Now it’s much broader, from child care to comp time, helping women with the tools they need as they juggle work and family."
— By Karen James.
A cotton-candy pink parade of 18-foot Cadillacs pulled up in front of the Capitol building on June 15, 2005. The six Mary Kay independent national sales directors inside were not on the average call that day; instead, they were in Washington to sell a social message: "Break the Silence Against Violence."
The voice behind that message was Anne Crews, vice president of government relations at Mary Kay Inc., one of the largest direct-selling skin care and color cosmetics companies in the world. The 42-year-old cosmetics company has become a model of how businesses can educate as well as offer personal growth and income-earning opportunities to women. It takes its mission–to enrich women’s lives–both literally and figuratively.
Since 2000, the Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation has awarded thousands of dollars to shelters for those fleeing domestic abuse. In 2005, the foundation awarded a total of $3 million to 150 shelters located in all 50 states. The company and the foundation have also educated their energetic sales consultants who, in turn, raise awareness about the issue among their families, friends and customers.
The company’s foundation has also underwritten two PBS documentaries on domestic violence: "Breaking the Silence: Journeys of Hope" and "Breaking the Silence: Children’s Stories." In addition the foundation funds the "Safety Net" program of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, a program that teaches women how to safely use technology to extricate themselves from situations involving domestic violence.
Crews has been a leader in the Mary Kay program since its inception. She also has given her time and leadership ability to other organizations dedicated to eliminating domestic violence. Crews served on the National Advisory Committee on Violence Against Women, charged with guiding the U.S. Department of Justice and Health and Human Services in developing practices and programs to prevent domestic violence and other violence against women, and she serves on the board of the National Network to End Domestic Violence Fund. Meanwhile, in her home city of Dallas, Crews served as president of the board of directors for The Family Place, a local resource assisting domestic violence survivors and their families.
Growing up in Dallas, Crews was aware of Mary Kay Inc. She was inspired by a sorority sister at Rollins College, Winter Park, Fla., who was a Mary Kay "independent beauty consultant" and was enjoying financial rewards from the business opportunity.
Mary Kay is a company built on the ethos of personal independence, but simultaneously prides itself on creating a tight-knit community. This duality made domestic violence an apt focus for the charitable wing of the company, the Mary Kay Ash Foundation, founded in 1996. Crews says, "Mary Kay is all about educating women, whether it is teaching skin care or about domestic violence and resources that offer hope and help."
Crews has seen the transformative effects of education in her own anti-violence work beginning in the 1980s. "I have a sense of how strong human beings can be when faced with the most challenging situations and how they can rise above their situations, especially with the help of others," she says. "To help others, that’s why we are here on earth."
— By Courtney Martin.
For Darlee Crockett, a Republican mother of three from San Diego, the national debate over abortion hits close to home.
Born, raised and educated in San Diego, Crockett saw a stream of pregnant women cross the nearby border into Mexico to obtain illegal abortions. As a young woman in the 1960s, Crockett heard stories about their terrifying and humiliating experiences in Tijuana, then an emporium of illegal and unsafe abortions for U.S. women.
The stories prompted Crockett to volunteer as a pregnancy counselor at Planned Parenthood of San Diego and Riverside Counties in the early 1970s, a time when Republicans who supported abortion rights and reproductive health were welcomed in their political party.
That soon began to change, but Crockett remained a proud pro-choice Republican, becoming president of the Sacramento-based Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, then chair of the San Francisco-based Planned Parenthood Western Region, and even a national board member of the New York-based Planned Parenthood Federation and she is also currently on the board of the Guttmacher Institute in New York. She also served as vice chair of the Los Angeles-based California Family Planning Council.
While Crockett describes herself as a Republican, she knows that some in her party regard her as a "R.I.N.O.," or Republican In Name Only.
"Right now we’re in an area where the people who command the voice of the party are on the far right," she says. "But in no way do I believe they represent rank-and-file Republicans."
She’s spent the last decade working to persuade the leaders of the party that they will pay a political price if they continue their campaign to undermine women’s reproductive rights. As national co-chair of Planned Parenthood’s Republicans for Choice, Crockett is overseeing an effort to establish chapters all over the country to build support for abortion rights and reproductive health among Republican voters.
"When people see the impact (of restrictions on abortion and reproductive health) on real women’s lives, that’s when things start to turn around," she says.
— By Allison Stevens.
Anita L. DeFrantz has paved the way for women at the highest levels of amateur sports.
A bronze medalist in rowing during the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, 10 years later DeFrantz went on to become the first U.S. woman and the first African American in history to serve on the all-volunteer International Olympic Committee. She originally came to the committee’s attention after protesting former President Jimmy Carter’s boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games. She had been training for the games in hopes of winning a gold medal.
"I was furious," she says. "As an American citizen it’s my right to go or not to go." A 1977 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, DeFrantz took the lead among a group of athletes in an ultimately unsuccessful lawsuit against the U.S. Olympic Committee that tried to force the committee to send a team to Moscow.
DeFrantz has worked for equal opportunity in sports since joining the International Olympic Committee. In 1995 she successfully spearheaded the establishment of the committee’s Women and Sports Commission. She campaigned for the addition of women’s soccer and softball to the 1996 Atlanta Games as medal sports and women’s water polo to the 2000 Sydney Games.
Born in Philadelphia, DeFrantz grew up in Indiana where she lived with her parents and three brothers until leaving for college. She received an academic scholarship to attend Connecticut College, in New London, Conn., and earned a B.A. there in 1974 in political philosophy. In 1981 DeFrantz merged her legal career and her athletic prowess to work for the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee. In 1987, she became the president of the Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles and continues in that role today. There she oversees the spending of $155 million in programs that benefit more than 1,000 youth sports organizations throughout Southern California.
As an Olympic medalist and as chair of the International Olympic Committee’s Women and Sports Commission, she is not only an extraordinary role model for young female athletes, she is a powerful mentor to those with the will and ability to excel.
As she says, while she is a woman of many firsts who is frequently called the most powerful woman in amateur sports, "I’m only successful if I’m not the last."
— By Karen James.
Karen James is a Women’s eNews intern; Courtney Martin is a writer, teacher and filmmaker in Brooklyn, N.Y.; and Allison Stevens is our Washington bureau chief.
Women’s eNews welcomes your comments. E-mail us at [email protected].
For more information:
Haifa Fahoum Al Kaylani
Arab International Women’s Forum:
Change to Win:
Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation:
Planned Parenthood Republicans for Choice:
Anita L. DeFrantz
Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles: