International and local fashions will take center stage at a benefit fashion show this month, and the event is a chance to support an organization that helps women in Rwanda and Afghanistan become successful businesswomen.
“Cowboy & Couture” is set for 6 p.m. July 17 at the Historic Oklahoma City Farmers Public Market. All proceeds from the show will be used to fund Peace Through Business, a program that helps entrepreneurial Rwandan and Afghan women realize their career dreams.
“I believe if you educate a woman, you educate her family and you educate her community,” said Terry Neese, founder and CEO of Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women (IEEW). The organization based in Oklahoma implements the Peace Through Business program each year.
“And really, in the big scheme of things, if you educate a woman, you educate a nation, because a woman will pass along that education ... and that builds a civil society, freedom and economic development in their country.”
Each year, the institute provides business education and support to 60 motivated women in Rwanda and Afghanistan in their home countries.
Half of these women are then chosen for the second stage of the program — a chance to visit America for about two weeks, participating in many high-level business educational activities.
When the Afghan and Rwandan women arrived in America on July 9, among them was Amani Kalisa, a fashion designer from Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. She is participating in the program, and some of her fashions will be featured at the “Cowboys & Couture” show.
Kalisa is owner of Amani K. Creations. She describes her fashions as a fusion of African, Western and Asian fabrics and designs which she calls Afrowesia Designs.
Also to be featured at the show are local fashion boutiques including Ruth Meyer, Spencer Stone, Langston's and Rawhide. The show is sponsored by Eden Salon and Spa.
A mentorship aspect of the Peace Through Business program pairs the Afghan and Rwandan women with American women in similar fields for several days. Many of these mentorships will be in central Oklahoma.
Toward the end of the program, the women will travel to Washington, D.C., where they will participate in The International Women's Economic Summit. The summit includes sessions with many distinguished speakers including Katie Harbath, associate policy manager at Facebook; Dr. Kathleen Kuehnast, director of the Gender & Peacebuilding Center at the U.S. Institute of Peace; Dr. Kevin Fegan, president of Northwood University-Cedar Hill Campus; Anita Dunn, former White House communications director; the Honorable Eklil Hakimi, Afghan ambassador; and the Honorable James Kimonyo, Rwandan ambassador. Jim Blasingame, small business expert and nationally syndicated radio host, will broadcast live from the summit and moderate a panel.
If you go
Tickets to “Cowboys & Couture” cost $100 for V.I.P. seating and one drink, $35 for reserved general admission, and $40 for general admission at the door. There will be refreshments and a cash bar available. For information and to buy tickets, go online to www.edenfashionshow.com.