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9th Forum for the Future for North Africa, Levant, and Gulf Countries (BMENA)

League of Women Voters Will Serve as U.S. NGO Partner in Initiative

Washington, DC/March 8, 2012 - For the first time since 2004, the United States has assumed the G-8 Presidency for 2012 and, in that role, has co-chair responsibilities for the Broader Middle East and North Africa (BMENA) initiative. The G-8 BMENA Initiative is a multilateral effort to promote cooperation between the G-8 and BMENA governments and civil society to advance reform efforts throughout the region. The United States has invited Tunisia to serve as BMENA co-chair, marking the first time that two democracies have led the initiative.

To assist the government co-chairs in developing themes, agendas, and concrete efforts to promote reform in the MENA region, each country selects an NGO partner. The League has been invited to partner with the United States government as its 2012 BMENA Initiative NGO partner. The role of the League is to organize 10 different preparatory meetings that will take place in seven to eight different countries between March and November and that will culminate with the ministerial meeting in December. The NGO partners coordinate closely with each other and with the co-chair governments in support of BMENA activities.

"The League is proud to serve as the civil society partner alongside the U.S. and Tunisian governments and the NGO partner in Tunisia to contribute our experience to the themes and agendas that will be discussed in these important meetings," said Elisabeth MacNamara, national League President. "Announcing the beginning of this effort is so fitting as we celebrate International Women's Day today."

As a nonpartisan political organization that encourages active, informed participation in government and focuses on increasing general understanding of major policy issues through education and advocacy, especially for women voters, the League has been active for almost a century working at all levels of government. The organization boasts more than 800 local and state-level chapters around the country, staffed mainly by committed volunteers. From the beginning, the League has been an activist, grassroots organization whose leaders believed that citizens should play a critical role in advocacy, and that belief has shaped the League’s work today.

In addition to its domestic efforts, the League is also active internationally. In 2011, the League worked with women in Egypt and Tunisia, the United States’ G-8 BMENA co-chair, focused on promoting democracy. The League’s efforts in Tunisia culminated with the formation of a Tunisian League of Women Voters to promote greater informed participation in Tunisia’s newly established democracy.

BMENA activities are sponsored by the U.S. – Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) at the U.S. Department of State. MEPI is a unique program designed to engage directly with and invest in the peoples of the Middle East and North Africa.  MEPI works to create vibrant partnerships with citizens to foster the development of pluralistic, participatory, and prosperous societies throughout the MENA region.  To do this, MEPI partners with local, regional and international non-governmental organizations, the private sector, academic institutions, and governments. More information about MEPI can be found at: www.mepi.state.gov

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Contact: Kelly Ceballos, 202-263-1331

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