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Annual Luncheon Benefits Educational Programs for NYC School Children

New York, NY, March 3, 2016 — Women’s rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali will be honored at New-York Historical’s 2016 Strawberry Festival benefit luncheon, an annual event recognizing women in public life that dates back to 1856. Ms. Hirsi Ali will receive the Woman in Public Life Award for her work to end honor violence, which shames, hurts, and kills thousands of women and girls in the United States each year. The luncheon will take place on Wednesday, April 6 at the New-York Historical Society (170 Central Park West at 77th Street) and will feature remarks from Ms.  Hirsi Ali. Event check-in will begin at 11:30 am.

“Ayaan Hirsi Ali has used her voice to become a champion for women and young girls who would have otherwise gone unheard,” said Dr. Louise Mirrer, President and CEO of the New-York Historical Society. “As the number of women and girls suffering from honor violence, coercion, and oppression continues to rise at an alarming rate, Ms. Hirsi Ali’s work is more relevant and critical than ever. We join her in her mission to elevate the status of women, especially as we prepare to open our new Center for the Study of Women’s History in 2017, an effort aimed at recognizing the many women whose voices have been forgotten or lost to history.”

Ms. Hirsi Ali joins a list of outstanding women who have been honored at the Strawberry Festival in prior years. Past honorees include Mika Brzezinski, Hillary Clinton, Kirsten Gillibrand, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Michelle Obama, Anna Quindlen, Christine Quinn, Cokie Roberts, Lesley Stahl, Pat Klingenstein, and Sue Ann Weinberg.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a political activist, author, and founder of the AHA Foundation, which protects and defends the rights of women in the United States from physical harm. She is a Future of Diplomacy Project fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Ms. Hirsi Ali was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, where she was subjected to female genital mutilation as a young girl. In 1992 she fled to the Netherlands to escape a forced marriage. There she was granted asylum and later citizenship. She learned Dutch and studied at the University of Leiden, earning her M.A. in political science. Beginning in 2003 Ms. Hirsi Ali served as an elected member of the Dutch Parliament, where she focused on furthering the integration of non-Western immigrants into Dutch society and on defending the rights of Muslim women. In 2006 Ms. Hirsi Ali resigned from Parliament when the then-Dutch Minister for Immigration revoked her citizenship, arguing that she had misled the authorities at the time of her asylum application. The Dutch courts ultimately confirmed Ms. Hirsi Ali’s Dutch citizenship as legitimate, leading to the fall of the government. Disillusioned with the Netherlands, she moved to the United States. In 2004 Ms. Hirsi Ali gained international attention following the murder of Theo van Gogh, who had directed her short film, Submission, about the oppression of women under Islam. The assassin, a radical Muslim, left a death threat for Ms. Hirsi Ali pinned to Van Gogh’s chest.

Ms. Hirsi Ali was named one of TIME’s “100 Most Influential People” in 2005. She is the best-selling author of Infidel (2007) and Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now (2015).

New-York Historical Society’s Strawberry Festival has been recognizing women in public life since its first gathering in 1856, when guests enjoyed a stimulating lecture and a strawberry feast in Washington Square Park. Funds raised from this event help support crucial educational programs for New York City children and youth, as part of N-YHS’ DiMenna Children’s History Museum and Barbara K. Lipman Children’s History Library. In addition to offering critical history education initiatives annually for 200,000 New York City public school students, the Children’s Museum and Library have become magnets for underserved children and families, with scholarships offered for weekend and holiday family programs and summertime “history camps.”

Opening in early 2017, the Center for the Study of Women’s History at New-York Historical will be the first of its kind in a U.S. museum to focus on women’s history on a permanent basis, presenting special exhibitions and public and scholarly programs. The Center will be a vibrant educational resource for scholars, students, and the public, as well as a venue for discussion and exchange focused on women’s history.

Strawberry Festival tickets range from $500 to $1,000; Co-Chair tables with premier seating for ten guests are $25,000. For tickets or more information, please call Barbi Zakin at (212) 744-0799 or e-mail barbi@barbizakinevents.com.

Media RSVP is required. To RSVP, please contact Marybeth Ihle (212) 873-3400 x326, marybeth.ihle@nyhistory.org.

About the New-York Historical Society
Founded in 1804, the New-York Historical Society has a mission to explore the richly layered history of New York City, state, and the country, as well as to serve as a national forum for the discussion of issues surrounding the making and meaning of history. New York Historical is recognized for engaging the public with deeply researched and far-ranging exhibitions, such as Alexander Hamilton: The Man Who Made Modern America; Slavery in New York; Nature and the American Vision: The Hudson River School at the New-York Historical Society; Nueva York; Revolution! The Atlantic World Reborn; WWII & NYC; The Armory Show at 100: Modern Art and Revolution; Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion; Superheroes in Gotham; and Silicon City: Computer History Made in New York. Supporting these exhibitions and related education programs is one of the world’s greatest collections of historical artifacts, works of American art, and other materials documenting the history of the United States and New York.

Press Contacts
Ines Aslan, (212) 873-3400 x263, ines.aslan@nyhistory.org
Marybeth Ihle, (212) 873-3400 x326, marybeth.ihle@nyhistory.org


Thursday, March 3, 2016
Creative: Tronvig Group