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The Transformative Power of Women

Charity Wallace and Ayaan Hirsi Ali - Pepperdine University

Event Details

Tuesday, October 1, 2019 
6:00 PM
Pepperdine Malibu Campus

For general questions about the event please email: sppevents@pepperdine.edu.  

An Evening with Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Join the School of Public Policy for an evening conversation with renowned political leader, national security expert, human rights advocate and expert on Islam, Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Hirsi Ali, a former Muslim, has gained an international following speaking up for the rights of Muslim women and girls. Named one of TIME Magazine's "100 Most Influential People," one of the Glamour Heroes, and one of Reader's Digest's "Europeans of the Year," Hirsi Ali is a true advocate in the fight against violence to women and young girls. Charity Wallace, founder and principal at Wallace Global Impact and board member at Pepperdine School of Public Policy will moderate a conversation around women's rights from a global perspective.


   Featured Speaker: Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Ayaan Hirsi Ali was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1969. The daughter of a political opponent of the Somali dictatorship,  Hirsi Ali grew up in exile, moving from Saudi Arabia to Ethiopia then Kenya.

As a young child, she was subjected to female genital mutilation. As she grew up, she embraced Islam and strove to live as a devout Muslim, but she began to question aspects of her faith. One day, while listening to a sermon on the many ways women should be obedient to their husbands, she couldn't resist asking, "Must our husbands obey us too?"

In 1992, Hirsi Ali was married off by her father to a distant cousin who lived in Canada. In order to escape this marriage, she fled to the Netherlands where she was given asylum, and in time citizenship. In her early years in Holland she worked in factories and as a maid. She quickly learned Dutch, and was able to study at the University of Leiden. Working as a translator for Somali immigrants, she saw at first hand the inconsistencies between liberal, Western society, and tribal, Muslim cultures.

After earning her master of arts in political science, Hirsi Ali worked as a researcher for the Wiardi Beckman Foundation in Amsterdam. She then served as an elected member of the Dutch parliament from 2003 to 2006. While in parliament, she focused on furthering the integration of non-Western immigrants into Dutch society and on defending the rights of Muslim women. She campaigned to raise awareness of violence against women, including honor killings and female genital mutilation, practices that had followed the immigrants into Holland. In her three years in government, she found her voice as an advocate for an "enlightened Islam."

In 2004, Hirsi Ali gained international attention following the murder of Theo van Gogh. Van Gogh had directed her short film Submission, a film about the oppression of women under Islam. The assassin, a radical Muslim, left a death threat for her pinned to Van Gogh's chest.

In 2006, Hirsi Ali had to resign from parliament when the then Dutch minister for immigration decided to revoke Hirsi Ali's Dutch citizenship, arguing that Hirsi Ali had misled the authorities at the time of her asylum application. However, the Dutch courts later confirmed that Hirsi Ali was indeed a legitimate Dutch citizen, leading to the fall of the government. Disillusioned with the Netherlands, she subsequently moved to the United States.

She is now a fellow with the Future of Diplomacy Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. She has to live with round-the-clock security. Her willingness to speak out and her abandonment of the Muslim faith have made her a target for violence by Islamic extremists.

   Moderator: Charity Wallace

Charity Wallace

Charity Wallace is the founder and principal of Wallace Global Impact, a consulting firm that combines policy expertise with extensive experience to drive innovative and effective solutions to improve the lives of people around the world, particularly women and girls. During the Bush Administration, Wallace served all eight years in the White House in various positions, most notably as the deputy chief of protocol for the United States and director of advance for First Lady Laura Bush. Following her tenure in the Administration, Wallace served as Laura Bush's chief of staff and founded and led the Global Women's Initiatives at the Bush Institute in Dallas, Texas. Wallace graduated magna cum laude in political science from Pepperdine University, and received her master's degree in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

  VIP Ticket Package: $250.00
  • One ticket in VIP section at the 6 PM event
  • One ticket to the VIP reception (5:30 pm) 
  • Meet and greet opportunity with Ayaan Hirsi Ali
  • Photo opportunity with Ayaan Hirsi Ali
  • Light hors d'oeuvres
  • Access to the general reception following 6 PM event
  General Admission: $15.00
  • One ticket to 6PM event 
  • Access to the general reception following 6PM event
  • Light hors d'oeuvres