International Justice Day: Celebrating Meridian’s Impact

As the world celebrates International Justice Day, a light shines on the grievous abuses of human rights that are perpetrated by violent extremism in all reaches of the globe. On July 17th 1998, 120 states from a diverse coalition of regions voted in favor of the Rome Statute which established the International Criminal Court (ICC). The overwhelming universal support for the statute signified the international community’s desire for a more secure and just future. Continue  

Art for Gender Equality in Mumbai, India

Every March 8th is International Women’s Day, a celebration of women around the world that takes place during Women’s History Month. While Meridian organizes exchanges for women leaders in various fields, for the past two years the Meridian Center for Cultural Diplomacy has used the arts – specifically the mural arts –  to directly address issues such as human trafficking, gender-based violence, empowerment, equality, and education that affect women and girls around the world. Continue  

Not Women’s Issues: 8 Films about Women Leaders around the World

Stemming from a long history of marginalizing women, mainstream media and international leaders rely heavily on the categorization of issues as “women’s issues” when discussing problems such as inequalities in education, inclusion of women in decision making, and gender violence. In the same way as women, societal problems that are categorized as “women’s issues” are considered of secondary concern to the growth of society. “Women’s issues” should be framed human rights issues because they are the manifestation of deeper structural and cultural inequalities that affect the entire population and often result in violence. While mainstream media portrays women as...


“#SheBelieves”: Sports Diplomacy’s Ability to Empower Women Athletes Worldwide

American soccer fans cheered loudly Sunday night as the U.S. Women’s National Team defeated Japan in a 5 – 2 win, bringing the FIFA World Cup trophy home for the first time in 16 years. More than 20 million viewers tuned in to watch the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup championship match, shattering TV rating records for soccer in the process. In light of the work done here at Meridian International Center, this victory is also an opportunity to bring attention to the mission and goals of sports diplomacy: a way for the universal passion for sports to bring people of different linguistic and sociocultural backgrounds together. Utilizing sports diplomacy, the U.S. Department of State and its partners have expressed an active commitment to empowering women and girls in sports around the world.


IVLP and the Rise in Women Leaders

The 75th Anniversary of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) is a major milestone in the program’s history. It offers us a chance to reflect on the impact of the program by examining the numbers. More than 335 current or former heads of government are IVLP alumni. Meridian International Center is proud to have coordinated the programs of 168 of these alumni.

I compiled basic data on these world leaders to see what sort of statistics could be gleaned. I focused on their age when they participated in the IVLP, how many years afterward they became a head of government and what was the length of their term. I also marked their gender and if they were currently in office.

The first lens that I would like to use to discuss the data is that of women leadership. While the rise of women leaders has been slow, its increase in recent years has been dramatic. In 1960 Sri Lanka elected the first female head of government in modern history, Sirimavo Bandaranaike. The second female head of government came in 1966 when Indira Gandhi became India’s first female Prime Minister. Gandhi was also the first female IVLP alumna to serve as the head of government. 13 years later in 1979 Margaret Thatcher became the second female IVLP alumna to serve as the head of government. The IVLP programs of both Indira Gandhi and Margaret Thatcher were coordinated by Meridian International Center.