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Updated 10:00 AM September 21, 2009

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  Elizabeth Mullin Welch Lecture
Author to discuss female activism in the new millennium

The world is witnessing an explosion of female activism in the 21st century, which is in turn redefining political goals, social movements and economic agendas in novel ways, according to a noted foreign correspondent.

U-M alumnus, author and journalist Robin Wright has reported from more than 140 countries, and has witnessed more than a dozen wars and revolutions. Along the way she has tracked pivotal shifts in female activism.
(Photo courtesy The Center For The Education Of Women)

Among the many trends, the new generation of activists — such as Iranian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel — gained prominence through their own imaginative efforts, not by inheriting power.

"Women, in many ways, are now the real engine of change," Wright says. "Indeed, meaningful change can rarely happen without them."

Wright will present the Center for the Education of Women's annual Elizabeth Mullin Welch Lecture on Sept. 30 at the Biomedical Science Research Building Auditorium. The lecture is free and open to the public.

During her talk "The New Faces of Female Activism," she will discuss female activism in the new millennium, the challenges of female leadership and how women's movements have utilized innovative strategies to induce political and social reform.

Before the 1970s, women often inherited power from their fathers or deceased husbands. Women now are excelling on their own in many fields, such as government, business and entertainment, Wright said.

In some cases, women become role models unintentionally, such as Neda Soltani, a young woman who was shot in June during protest demonstrations. Her death was captured on a cell phone and posted on the Internet, and has since become known as "The Angel of Iran."

Wright has spoken on foreign crises on television programs such as "Meet the Press," "Face the Nation," "Today," the "PBS Newshour" and "Larry King Live." Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The New Yorker, Time, The New York Times Magazine and other publications.

Wright has written extensively on Middle Eastern political affairs. Previously a diplomatic correspondent for the Washington Post, and for the Los Angeles Times Wright has written several books on the contemporary Middle East.

For coverage of U.S. foreign policy, Wright was named journalist of the year by the American Academy of Diplomacy and won the National Press Club Award and the Weintal Prize for diplomatic reporting in 2001.

Her books include "The Last Great Revolution: Turmoil and Transformation in Iran," which was selected as one of the 25 most memorable books of 2000. Wright's most recent work, Dreams and Shadows: The Future of the Middle East, seeks to document the region's reformers and the growth of unique forms of democracy in the Middle East.

The Mullin Welch Lecture Series was established in 1989 by Frances Daseler and Marjorie Jackson in memory of their sister Elizabeth Charlotte Mullin Welch to bring to the U-M campus lecturers who exemplify Elizabeth's characteristics: creativity, strength of character and expansive vision.

The lecture begins at 4 p.m. in the D. Dan and Betty Kahn Auditorium, located at 109 Zina Pitcher Place. Valet parking will be available. Registration is requested at

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