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Four Women Leaders Join IRI’s International Advisory Council

August 17, 2016

Washington, D.C. – IRI announces the addition of four new members from three continents to its International Advisory Council: Dr. Marta Gonzalez Vazquez, Dr. Raquel Munt, Selima Ahmad and Maria Bertha Petrus (Miet) Smet.

“These four women boast extraordinary achievements in the political life and development of democracy in their home countries,” said IRI President Mark Green. “Hailing from Europe, South America and South Asia, their diverse experiences and perspectives are a welcome addition to the Council.”

Dr. Marta Gonzalez is a Member of Parliament in Spain, elected for the third time in a row in the district of A Coruña in Galicia. She served as General Director for Gender Equality in the regional government of Galicia from 2003 to 2005, and as Secretary General for Gender Equality in the regional government from 2009 to 2011. She was one of the leaders of IRI’s 2014 election observation mission in Tunisia.

Dr. Raquel Munt serves as the National Director of Mediation for Conflict Resolution in the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights in Argentina. She is also the co-founder of IRI’s Women’s Democracy Network Argentina Country Chapter. In the past, Dr. Munt worked in key leadership capacities for the city of Buenos Aires, including as coordinator of the Women's Agenda Habitat and Inclusion Secretariat under the Ministry of Economic Development for the city.

Selima Ahmad is the President and Founder of the Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BWCCI), and the president of IRI’s Women’s Democracy Network Bangladesh Country Chapter. She helped to found the BWCCI in 2001 in order to facilitate the advancement of women entrepreneurs. As a mentor and a leader for the members in the Bangladesh Country Chapter, Ms. Ahmad trains women entrepreneurs to become involved in the political arena.

Miet Smet was the founder and first president of the women’s organization of the Christian Democratic and Flemish party, and was elected to what is today the Flemish Parliament, the Belgian Chamber of People’s Representatives, the Belgian Senate and the European Parliament. As Federal State Secretary for the Environment and Social Emancipation from 1985 to 1992 and Federal Minister for Labor and Employment from 1992 to 1999, she drove the agenda of gender equality in Belgium.

IRI established the International Advisory Council in 2015 to provide advice and perspectives on regional and world developments, and provide international expertise to enhance democracy and governance programming. This select group of recognized leaders from around the world are committed to advancing democracy and freedom.