The #FemDiplomacy Campaign: Building Bridges Across the Iranian-Arab Divide

Leila Mansouri is an immigration attorney with a U.S. law practice and global migration consulting practice. Leila is active in the Iranian-American community, and serves on the Boards of the Iranian American Bar Association and Persian Women in Tech. Recently, Leila spoke with the Iranian-American Chamber of Commerce regarding her latest project, a bridge-building initiative called #FemDiplomacy.

Leila Mansouri founded the #FemDiplomacy campaign after a conversation among Arab and Iranian friends at a wedding ceremony, motivating the purpose of the campaign to unite the two ethnic communities through arts, culture and discussion. 

“There has been a long history of hatred and racism and stereotypes between Arabs and Iranians. So basically, I founded this as a way to build bridges between the two,” Mansouri explains.

Since launching the grassroots campaign in May 2017 as a volunteer project, Mansouri has organized public events in Washington D.C. and London to showcase art, especially those created by Middle Eastern women. The campaign’s previous event in February collected donations for Syrian refugees through auctioning artwork by Arab and Iranian artists.   

In addition to public art exhibitions, #FemDiplomacy hosts roundtable discussions on more sensitive topics like women’s issues, which are open to interested individuals through inquiry. 

#FemDiplomacy aims to foster understanding between the Arab and Iranian communities through its hosted events and social media presence for those who are unable to travel and explore these different cultures themselves. Mansouri said that her biggest dream and goal with this initiative is to encourage conversation and for people “to start to break down their stereotypes.”

by Maristela Romero

About the author: USIRCC