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More than 300 global leaders gathered today in Santiago, Chile, to take part in a high-level conference on women in power and decision-making as part of UN Women’s global Beijing+20 campaign. It aims to galvanize political support to achieve gender equality and honour commitments made by 189 governments to uphold the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
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Bursting through the barriers of the male-dominated profession of competitive sport, Nawal El Moutawakel is the first Arab, African, and Muslim woman to win an Olympic gold medal, which she did for the 400-metre hurdles in 1984. She followed up her win serving as the first Minister of Sports in Morocco.
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Every time she heard someone saying that she should be doing something else, Caroline Amasis Maher’s determination grew and she trained even harder. She ignored the naysayers and the cultural barriers by not only playing a male-dominated sport but also excelling in it. Recently she became the first Arab-African female to be inducted into the Taekwondo Hall of Fame – the highest and most prestigious award in the sport. This meteoric rise to the top makes her extremely proud. In 2011, Caroline was ranked 12th on the World Taekwondo Federation’s World Athlete Ranking.
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Hibaaq Osman is a global political strategist who attended the Beijing Conference in 1995. Today, she heads Karama, an international organization based in Cairo that is working to end violence against women in the Arab region and is a partner of the UN Women Fund for Gender Equality. Ms. Osman is also a member of UN Women's Global Civil Society Advisory Group.