AIWA THRIVE shares the stories of individuals from around the world who are positively impacting our community as they lead with purpose.
Mediation Advisor, UN Women
Today, we feature Karma Ekmekji, Mediation Advisor, UN Women.
Karma Ekmekji is a Mediation Advisor with UN Women. She is also a Senior Policy Fellow at the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut and the Lead Advisor on their Women, Peace and Security initiative. Prior to this, she was the International Affairs and Relations Advisor to former Prime Minister of Lebanon Saad Hariri, where she served as the focal point for all international dossiers for eleven years. Before joining PM Hariri’s office in 2009, Karma was the National Political Officer at the United Nations Special Coordinator’s office in Lebanon where she briefed the Special Coordinator on political developments and strengthened the office’s network base with Lebanese political parties. She had also served at the UN Secretariat’s Department of Political Affairs in New York. Karma worked as a policy analyst for the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) tasked with conducting extensive research on electoral systems and reforms and with providing technical assistance to various regional Government agencies. She was present at the Doha Agreement in May 2008 to lobby Lebanese political parties to introduce reforms to the electoral law.
Stemming from a strong interest in empowering women in the field of diplomacy, peacemaking, mediation and negotiation, Karma founded the #Diplowomen initiative to share knowledge, develop mentorship opportunities and strengthen networking in this field. Karma is a member of the Mediterranean Women Mediators Network and a member of the Global Alliance of Regional Women Mediator Networks, which she participated in launching during the 74th UN General Assembly in New York.
Karma, a lecturer in International Affairs and Women Peace and Security, was selected as a Munich Young Leader in 2020. She was also selected to take part in the European Union Visitor’s Program in 2019 and is a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.
Karma is the co-founder and member of the Executive Board of 3QA, a Middle East based social enterprise aimed at creating a sustainable ecosystem for the Third Sector. She is also an advisor and member of the Executive Board of the Intisar Foundation.
She is a member of the British Government’s International Leaders Program and a “Personalité d’avenir” – selected by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 2012, Karma was named one of the top 99 foreign policy leaders under 33 years of age by the Diplomatic Courier.
She holds a Master of Public Administration from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, where she was a Fulbright student. She is a fourth-generation graduate of the American University of Beirut and a Penrose Award recipient given to outstanding undergraduate students on the basis of scholarship, character, leadership and contribution to university life.
Karma is married to Hani Hammoud and is the mother of two boys, Raï and Yann.
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Q: What is your life philosophy?
Adapt. Adjust. Accommodate.
Q: We called 2020 the year of the upheaval and awakening? What were your biggest upheavals and what did they teach you? What was your awakening(s) and what did it teach you?
(Please check out my contribution to Forbes answering a very similar question:)
“Living through 2020 has been hard on everyone–but living through 2020 in the city of Beirut has been apocalyptic. Literally. On August 4th my city witnessed one of the biggest non-nuclear explosions in history leaving over 200 people killed, over 6,000 injured, 80,000 housing units damaged, and 300,000 people displaced. Myself included. A country already witnessing a severe-economic crisis, hyperinflation, and a global pandemic, the Beirut blast left many of us struggling to understand what 2020 is trying to teach us. Well, I’ve learnt that health and safety are priceless; that schoolteachers are saint; that the power of solidarity trumps the forces of division; that our carbon footprint can actually be reduced; that there is nothing like the human touch. As we bid farewell to this challenging year, I celebrate the strength of our collective memory to be our immunity.”
Q: What is your hope for the future?
The full inclusion of women in peace processes and conflict resolution; Countries to develop feminist foreign policies.
Q: What is your favorite thing about being Armenian/Armenians?
Q: How has the Armenian culture shaped / influenced you?
Engraving family values deep in my heart that guide me in everything I do.
Q: Anything else you’d like us to include?
You can help promote The DiploWomen Podcast which has been recently launched. You can find it on Soundcloud, Spotify and Apple Podcasts.