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Simmons Students Discuss Safety with Iraqi Leaders

January 8, 2014

Three Simmons students were recently part of a presentation to members of an Iraqi delegation during a three-day program designed to inform international leaders of measures taken in the United States to combat gender-based violence and human trafficking. The program, which included a visit to Girls’ LEAP in Dorchester, took place in December and was sponsored by the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program and arranged by WorldBoston, a non-profit organization dedicated to engaging the public in international affairs and promoting partnerships between the United States and other nations.

Simmons senior Jordan Barnes, junior LaShawn Holloway, and sophomore Allison Lamb were chosen to address the delegation because of their involvement with Girls’ LEAP, a local non-profit that seeks to empower girls and young women to value and champion their own safety and well-being. The three women demonstrated the Girls’ LEAP curriculum, which combines physical self-defense skills with socio-emotional learning and self-reflective activities. They were joined by Girls’ LEAP Program Director Kaitie Chakoian, a Simmons alumna.

“We were honored to host this delegation, to have the opportunity to present our curriculum to them, and to hear about the measures they are taking to promote female empowerment in Iraq,” Chakoian said.

The five Iraqi leaders attending the program represented various organizations that are championing the rights of Iraqi women and combating gender-based violence. None of the delegation members had traveled to the United States before.

Girls’ LEAP is an important community partner for Simmons, the Simmons Institute for Leadership and Change and the Scott/Ross Center for Community Service. Since 2006, more than 70 Simmons women have completed Girls’ LEAP intensive training and more than 40 women have gone on to serve as assistant instructors in programs all over Boston.

Photo Credit: Craig Musicant.