Senses Cultural had a powerful and informative discussion on the impact of war on women and children in the Middle East last Saturday at the beautiful Seven Hills Conference Center on the campus of San Francisco State University. The presentation was introduced by Mrs. Tata Monfared, Founder and CEO of Senses Cultural. Tata stated that it was an honor it was to be among such distinguished panelists who have dedicated their lives in bringing goods to humanities.
Tata also felt that the presentation transferred some shocking facts about the inevitable and devastating consequences of war. The vast amounts of information and research shared by our world renowned speakers has captured the attention and engaged the audience with some wow moments.
The panel discussion was led by Karen Koning Abuzayd, a United Nations member for 30 years and the current Commissioner on the UN Human Rights Council mandated commission of Inquiry in Syria. Dr. Abuzayad spoke very eloquently about the depravation of over 50 million refugees since World War 2 in countries such as Iraq, Dafur, Libya and its neighboring countries, not to mention the 5.3 million Palestinian refugees. Karen also spoke at length about the human rights violation in Syria and the horrors of war in both Iraq and Syria currently. Kurd refugees, she stated, are still living in refugee camps in Syria in the worst possible situations. Karen quoted much from the Human Rights Council Update of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic published in June 16, 2014. The report said that in three years of conflict millions of Syrians have suffered the loss of relatives to attacks, to brutality in detention facilities, to disappearances and to starvation. Hundreds of thousands have lost their lives. An estimated 9.3 million Syrians are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, with 4.25 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and 2.8 million refugees in neighboring countries. The vast majority are women and children.
To balance the horrors of the situation, Karen spoke about the strength and resiliency of women, and women as the positive binding force of families and neighbors. Although men have paid the heavy price of war, women have been the ones left behind to care for families and make the best of camp life—make it as normal as possible. Children are also forced into marriages, ruining lives forever.
Our second panelist was Dr. Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, an environmental toxicologist and researcher who is investigating the effects of pollutants on public health caused by war and invasions. Her impassioned and very moving presentation about the toxic effects of burning pits in Iraq and her accompanying slide presentation brought many in the audience to tears. Her appeal for the world to intervene, especially the youth was inspirational and promoted much audience participation.
“Pregnant mothers, growing fetuses and children are highly susceptible to exposure to pollution, “says Dr. Mozhgan Savabieasfahani. “It is now widely accepted that environmental pollutants can disrupt biological processes that occur in the womb and damage sensory, motor and cognitive functions in the offspring.”
Dr. Savabieasfahani spoke about her research into recent biopsies that have linked the dust found in sick soldier’s lungs to titanium and other metals found in the dust in Iraq. She will be speaking about these findings and the long-term effects of war on public health.
We were also fortunate to have in the audience Mrs. Russul Romani, a former Iraqi refugee, and present co-founder of the Mesopotamia Society, a non-profit to aid Iraqi refugees locally. She too spoke about first-hand struggles of herself and families in the camps. Mrs. Roumani is currently working with Opening Doors, S Sacramento-based no-profit, aiding all refugees in Northern California.
Our panel was moderated by Mary Crawly a California-based environmentalist. She was part of group of Founders for Ocean Voyages Institute a non-profit organization based in Sausalito, California. It was established in 1979 with a mission focused on the preservation of maritime arts and sciences, the ocean environment and island culture.
With grace and skill, Mrs., Crawly facilitated the follow-up questions and discussions.
One of the objectives of the panel was to start organizing a stronger campaign with regards to bringing balanced and non-biased information about the impact of war in the Middle East on Women. We feel that the purposes was meet as panelists filled the existing information gaps on the problem and suffering of women and children in the war recently experienced by Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan and most recent disasters situation in Syria. We hoped that the display of the depth and extend of the impact of war on women and children in the concerned countries may further encourage the parties involved to choose means other than war to resolve their conflict.
Senses Cultural and Mrs. Monfared is honored for the dedication and the work of a number of professional organizations and teams of friends and scholars. She extends thanks to the following people and organizations:
– To our dear panelists, Dr. Karen AbuZayed, Dr. Mozhgan Sabaviehasfahani, and Ms. Mary Crawly, without whom this event would not be possible.
– To dearest Georg Orbelian, for his dedication and his efforts in reaching out to his professional contacts.
– To Mrs. Rassul Roumani for her help in the topic for this panel and her hear-felt presentation of her own experiences
– Thanks to the UNRAW Organization’s staff for its introduction to Karen Koning Abuzayad and for helping to publicize the event.
– Thanks to the Nasiri Foundation, under the supervision of Steve Nasiri, for its generous donation, and to his daughter, Shana Nasiri, for her supporting innovation in philanthropy.
– To the staff of San Francisco State University for the use of the Seven Hills Conference Center
– Deepest thanks to all Senses Cultural team of contributors and advisories for supporting us in making our lives more meaningful
To learn more about our panelists, please see information below:
The link below directs to the United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA). This is a great resource to use to learn about the purpose of the UNRWA as well as the humanitarian services they engage in such as primary and vocational education, health care, relief and social services, infrastructure and camp improvement, microfinance and emergency response, and more.