Judy Crockett

Judy Crockett
Judy Crockett

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Salute to Andrea Parhamovich

A heroic American woman who worked to expand democracy in Iraq was killed in Baghdad last week. Andrea Parhamovich, a 28-year-old from Ohio who traveled to Iraq to work for the National Democratic Institute (NDI), had just finished leading a training seminar for Sunni politicians, when her armed convoy was ambushed. She and three bodyguards were killed. Andi, as she was known by her friends and colleagues, will be remembered for her idealism, bravery, and positive spirit.

We bring you her story because in a matter of months, Andi was slated to take on the new role of training Iraqi women to increase their political involvement. A tragedy like Andi's makes us realize how much we take for granted when we talk about gender-parity and advancing women's leadership in America. Andi risked her life doing work that we talk about every week.

Last summer, several Iraqi government officials who were in the US to learn about democracy, came to our office. Out of a group of eight, there was one woman, and we learned that during the legislators' three-week visit to the states, not a single meeting had focused on women. Halfway through the trip, she requested a tutorial on women's leadership, which led the group to The White House Project. Over the course of an afternoon we presented the case for women's leadership to a largely skeptical audience. Although quotas in Iraq now guarantee women's involvement in government, in the years since the Gulf War, women had very few rights at all. At the table sat one very brave woman who epitomized what it means to step up and lead.

Andi worked so that Iraqi women like the one that came to our office could lead in her community and in her life. Here and abroad, work is underway to change the status quo so that women can have a greater stake in government. The White House Project would like to honor Andi by bringing you her story, and by reminding you how important it is for women to lead—both because we have the freedom to do so, and because strong women, as consensus-builders, collaborators, and listeners, are much needed during a time of war.

We admire Andi's belief that she could create change in such a violent and unstable environment. We hope you will remember her fearlessness and courage as a young woman leader.

The White House Project

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