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2014 Spotlight on Leadership Lecture Will Feature Darfuri Human Rights Activist Hawa Abdallah Mohammed Salih

Recipient of U.S. Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award To Speak About Plight of Internally Displaced Persons in the Sudan


VILLANOVA, Pa. – Hawa Abdallah Mohammed Salih has always been willing to risk it all to defend the rights of her fellow Darfuris made homeless in a homeland torn apart by civil war. Repeatedly beaten and tortured while held in a state prison in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, Salih’s captors asked her why she was not yet dead.

Salih, who survived persecution to receive the U.S. Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award in 2012 for her advocacy of internally displaced persons (IDP) in Darfur, will be the featured speaker at Villanova University’s April 9 “Spotlight on Leadership & Diversity Lecture.” The program, which will be held at 4:30 p.m. in the Villanova Room of the Connelly Center on the University’s main campus, is free and open to the public. Advance registration is required at 

“We are thrilled to recognize Hawa Abdallah Mohammed Sali as our Spotlight on Leadership & Diversity speaker for this year.  As an advocate for the voiceless in Darfur and as a visionary human rights activist, she is an outstanding role model for our students,” Ralph Gigliotti, Assistant Director of Student Development for Leadership Programs at Villanova said.

Born in North Darfur, Hawa and her family were forced to flee their home village in 2003 to escape fighting between Darfuri rebels and government forces. She subsequently spent much of her young adult life in Abu Shouk internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in El Fasher, North Darfur, where she emerged as a prominent voice for the IDPs, calling attention to the widespread sexual assaults on women.

“Hawa exemplifies the ideals of servant leadership. As a community, we are both humbled and inspired by her profound experiences in El Fasher,” Gigliotti said.

The Spotlight on Leadership & Diversity lecture, now in its fourth year, recognizes and celebrates leadership in a myriad of settings. It is co-sponsored by Villanova’s Office of Student Development and Center of Multicultural Affairs.

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's five colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing and the Villanova University School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them.