Empowering Women

february, 2023

23feb4:00 pm5:30 pmEmpowering Women


(Thursday) 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm


USF Student Center

200 6th Ave S

Event Details

Panel Discussion moderated by Lauren Anderson

How do women gain control and power over their own lives and the acquire the ability to make strategic choices?  Experts who have lived and worked in Afghanistan, Iran, Nepal, Tunisia, and Ukraine address the challenges facing women in those countries.

Speakers for this event

  • Iryna Rubis

    Iryna Rubis

    Iryna Rubis currently heads Pislyazavtra, a civil society organization founded in 2015 with a mission of moving business and society towards gender equality, overcoming the gender pay gap, and becoming a female-friendly and anti-sexist society through communication campaigns, peer-to-peer reeducation, media, events, digital activism, and educational projects. An established gender, diversity, and inclusion expert and social entrepreneur, some of her recent achievements include developing a personal stress-relieving Telegram chatbot for Ukrainian teenagers during wartime, with 2.2 million views in 2022; training over 3,000 business leaders on DE&I in 2021 from companies such as Vodafone, Henkel, Philip Morris International, and GSK; and creating the first human rights promotion video on Ukrainian TikTok, with 20 million views. Iryna serves as a board member for Fulcrum, an LGBTQ rights NGO based in Ukraine. She holds a master’s degree in Business Administration in General Management from the University of Sheffield, UK, and a master’s degree in Marketing from Kiev National Trade Economy University, Ukraine. Additionally, she has attended programs at the IE Business School in Madrid, Spain, and the Ukrainian Corporate Governance Academy. Words she uses to describe herself include entrepreneur, human rights promoter, connector, ex-reporter, LGBTQ ally, stereotype hater, energetic visionary, partner, and a mom of 3.

  • Lauren Anderson

    Lauren Anderson

    LAUREN C ANDERSON, L.H.D.A distinguished former FBI Executive and the first U.S. Mission Geneva-sponsored Executive in Residence at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, Lauren has unique national security, geopolitical, risk, and crisis management expertise, cross-pollinated with depth in international women’s issues, particularly in the space of women, peace, and security, including advising and mentoring women in areas of conflict. She has worked on six continents with governments, international organizations, NGOs, academic institutions, corporations, small businesses, and civil society. During an FBI career which encompassed many “firsts”, including being one of the first women on an FBI SWAT team, Lauren led FBI Legal Attaché offices in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, and spearheaded the FBI’s participation in the US Government/African Union Trans-Sahel Counterterrorism Initiative in Africa. She led the FBI’s New York Counterterrorism Division/Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) and its Intelligence Division as the interim Special Agent in Charge. Lauren is an advisor to the U.S. Comptroller General at the Government Accountability Office on international security, intelligence, criminal justice, law enforcement, and women’s leadership; an advisor for Stellar Solutions Defense Support and Cyber Sector; and a subject matter expert, advisor, and special skilled role player for the U.S. Army in warfighter exercises. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a Global Ambassador with Vital Voices, and a member of the Board of Trustees of Muhlenberg College.

  • Maryam Shojaei

    Maryam Shojaei

    Maryam Shojaei is a civil rights activist born and raised in Iran. She founded the #NoBan4Women movement which promotes women's rights to attend sports events in her country. She is the author of a forthcoming book, Azadi Means Freedom, on fighting for women's rights in Iran. She studies Women and Gender Studies, and received her Masters in Peace Operations form George Mason University.

  • Taoufik Djebali

    Taoufik Djebali

    Taoufik Djebali was born and raised in Tunisia, a former French possession in North Africa, known for its cohesion and religious tolerance. In the 1980s, like many North African students, he decided to move to Paris to pursue higher education after earning a degree in English. In Paris, he got a degree in sociology and a Ph.D. in American studies on race and public policy. Djebali then started a career in teaching at the University of Caen in the northwest of France. Since then, he has been dividing his time between the port city of Caen, Paris, and Tunisia where he teaches as a Visiting Professor. He has published articles on racial, ethnic and immigrant issues in the United States and Tunisia.

  • Vanessa Martinez

    Vanessa Martinez

    Vanessa Martinez is the Founder and Executive Director of Girl Reports, Inc., a community-based education program that empowers underserved girls through journalism. A graduate of the University of South Florida (USF), she holds bachelor’s degrees in French Literature and German Language, and a master’s degree in Applied Anthropology. Vanessa has extensive experience in cross-cultural collaboration and international education — including a Fulbright Teaching Assistantship, an internship with the German-American Chamber of Commerce, and grassroots international development projects. In addition to her work with Girl Reports, Inc., Vanessa is the Assistant Director of International Community Relations at USF World.

  • Zuhal Salim

    Zuhal Salim

    Zuhal Salim has served as a Diplomat at the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the United Nations. She covered issues related to Women, Peace and Security, children and armed conflict, human rights, women advancement, and refugees. She’s currently working as Program Manager, Women’s Economic Power at Upwardly Global. Her work is focused on building economic inclusion and social power across class, industry and geography for immigrant and refugee women of color through movement building, skilling, and investing in networks. The work also seeks to shift the narrative on immigrant and refugee women’s power, influencing company culture to ensure corporate diversity/equity/inclusion initiatives are inclusive of and advance immigrant women of color. Zuhal has a Master’s in International Relations from New York University.

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