2017 marks the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Andi Parhamovich Fellowship. The fellowship was founded in memory of NDI staff-member Andi Parhamovich, 28, who was killed on January 17, 2007, when her convoy was attacked while returning from a political party training session in Baghdad. Over the past ten years, the fellowship has had a lasting impact for women’s political empowerment around the world. Over a series of posts, we will examine this impact and remember Andi Parhamovich’s legacy.

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A message from Andi's father, Andre Parhamovich

Dear Andi:

It has been 10 years since we lost you to the war in Iraq. The reality of your loss is this: the intensity of our grief lessens over time, but we all carry a body of sadness and loneliness in our hearts and souls everyday. There are still some days I just live to live. If tears were liquid gold, I would be a billionaire. I believe that love is an eternal flame and that no light born in love can ever be extinguished. The warmth of your love will live on forever in our hearts. May that warmth of your love give us hope to carry on. For hope is the match that lights the candle of courage. I try to live my life as kind as possible so that your legacy of kindness lives on in me. We all miss you so dearly.

Love, dad.

The Andi Parhamovich Fellowship: A worldwide legacy of women's political empowerment

January 17th, 2017, marks the 10th anniversary of the death of NDI Baghdad employee Andi Parhamovich and three security personnel during an ambush in Baghdad, Iraq. While there is no way to adequately respond to such a tragedy, the Parhamovich family hoped to find a way to continue one of Andi’s passions: increasing women’s participation in politics. The Andi Parhamovich Fellowship was created so that young women from all parts of the world would be able to take advantage of resources and connections in Washington D.C. that they could then take home to their countries and move forward Andi’s goals.

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Women’s Political Equality in Pakistan: Not an Impossible Mission

How did I come to understand what has become my mission in life? Well, I come from a social context in Pakistan where, like in all developing countries, women’s vision and committed approach to a practical life goes through tough challenges. It can even start within a woman’s own family. Fortunately, my family stood by my ambition of joining social work as a profession.

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Helping Women Parliamentarians Wage Peace in East Africa

Somalia has been at war with itself since 1991, and my family fled the country at the peak of the civil war that year. Over the course of the following decade, I lived and studied in India. The civil war has left the country with many scars: political instability, insecurity, a dysfunctional government, no functioning public and private institutions, economic destitution, clan disputes and violence, the formation of terrorist groups, and piracy. So after my studies, I decided to return to Somalia to contribute to the rebuilding of the nation. But arriving in Mogadishu in 2003, nothing prepared me for the shock at the level of destruction and the suffering of my people, especially women and children.

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Being Bold for Change in Guatemala

In 2013, while I was working in partnership with NDI Guatemala, I became interested in encouraging more women to get involved in politics, so I applied for the Andi Parhamovich Fellowship. I proposed a project focused on increasing women's participation as decision-makers in Guatemala - a huge challenge for me considering my background was in the sciences and I was new to politics. Through my APF project I worked on a training program to prepare female candidates, who defied gender stereotypes, for the legislative elections in 2015, but we never expected a year like that.

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Developing Democracy in Kosovo, Europe’s Youngest Country

Meaningful democracy means the equal participation of women and men in political and public life. In 1999, just after the war, I found myself back in my hometown, having spent months as a refugee in Macedonia. As Kosovo recovered, the UN and many international organizations were present to help Kosovars build institutions and capacities and to reconcile communities. I started to run the youth center in my hometown, and I had the opportunity to talk one-on-one with young people while I worked there. We were a new generation and we had gone through difficult and different experiences during the conflict, so getting together in this way was a real challenge at first.

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Empowering Women in Nepal for a Better Tomorrow

Prior to my work with NDI, the term “democracy” in Nepal seemed to imply a group of leaders fighting for power, without regard to the norms and values of democracy. Democracy was not for the people, of the people and by the people, but for the leaders, of the leaders and by the leaders. This perception commonly held by political parties in my country made me think - did democracy really exist? Will future generations adopt and carry the same values that we practice in our daily lives or will they bring about changes?

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Continuing an Interrupted Legacy

Before 2003 Iraq was isolated from the world. The country possessed little knowledge of a democratic system, a functioning civil society, a multi-party political system or human rights, especially as they applied to women. As a lecturer at a large university in Iraq, I was speaking with young people every day who expressed their eagerness for freedom of speech. I kept hoping that we would have all of that one day, and I was looking to learn everything I could about democratic systems and human rights.

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