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H-Net Community: Building Bridges

Women's Issues in West Africa to Benefit From Information Sharing and Network Building

11/8/99

EAST LANSING, Mich. - The U.S. Information Agency has awarded Michigan State University a $135,000 grant to promote the participation of women in politics and democratic governance through information sharing and network building.

The program is jointly hosted by: MATRIX: the Center for the Humane Arts, Letters, and Social Sciences OnLine; the African Studies Center; the Women in Development Program; and H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences OnLine.

During the spring of 2000, this program will bring to the United States a select group of West African human rights specialists, democracy activists, NGO leaders, educators, scholars, journalists, and other professionals from Ghana, Mali, Senegal, and Nigeria.

The West African participants will spend more than two weeks at MSU where they will make individual presentations, attend lectures and seminars focused on women's issues in democratizing societies, and participate in an intensive workshop on using the Internet for resources on women, civic education, and democratization.

The participants will also spend a week in Washington, D.C where they will attend lectures and meet with women's organizations. The Washington trip, also hosted by MSU, will include meetings with USIA staff, as well as American women leaders, women's rights activists, and other political representatives concerned with women's democratic organizing.

During the 2000-1 academic year, the program leaders will visit the West African sites and conduct local training sessions in conjunction with the workshop participants. They also will participate in policy discussions with the West African leaders, scholars, and NGOs.

This program is part of the African Internet Connectivity Project undertaken by MSU and to facilitate the development of Internet resources, training, and networking for higher education in Africa as well as to support political organizing and the promotion of emerging sustainable democracies.

"This program promises considerable benefit, with a strong multiplier effect for women's groups, professional associations, educational organizations, and political leadership in these four countries and throughout Africa," said Mark Kornbluh, director of H-Net and MATRIX at MSU. "Americans who have professional interests in Africa and women's rights, and in the structures of West African higher education and research also will benefit from this partnership."

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