Videos of Manal




  • Barefoot in Baghdad: A Story of Identity-My Own and What It Means to Be a Woman in Chaos
    Barefoot in Baghdad: A Story of Identity-My Own and What It Means to Be a Woman in Chaos
    by Manal Omar
  • Living Islam Out Loud: American Muslim Women Speak
    Living Islam Out Loud: American Muslim Women Speak
    Beacon Press

Panelist at The International Women’s Forum World Leadership Conference in Washington, DC. Photo with Senator Mary Henry (Ireland); Pamela Passman, Vice President, Global Corporate Affairs, Microsoft; & U.S. Congresswoman Maxine Waters on Capitol HillBiography

Currently with USIP as the Acting Vice-President for the Middle East and Africa Center, Manal continues to travel across the Middle East working with civil society.  Previously, Manal was working as the Regional Program Manager for the Middle East for Oxfam – Great Britain. She worked to respond the emergency humanitarian crisis in Palestine and Lebanon, while supporting on going work in Yemen, Iraq, and Egypt.  Previously, she worked with Women for Women International as Regional Coordinator for Afghanistan, Iraq, and Sudan. She was responsible for setting up operations in Iraq, and lived in Baghdad from 2003 to 2005.

Manal has over three years experience working with the World Bank’s development economics group. She launched her career as a journalist in the Middle East in 1996. UNESCO recruited her to work on one her first lead assignments in Iraq in 1997/98. Manal has carried out training programs on in Yemen, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Sudan, Lebanon, Occupied Palestinian Territories, Kenya, and many other countries.

Manal has been profiled in many media outlets including the Washington Times, LA Times, BBC, NPR, Glamour, Times, and Newsweek. Her articles and opinion pieces have appeared in the Guardian, Washington Post, Azizah Magazine, and Islamica magazine. Manal has been awarded the Silver Medal for the Economis/Shell 2001 Global Competition for her paper titled "Gender Mobility: The Long and Winding Road to Women and Transportation".

She has authored several articles published in the Encyclopaedias of Activism and Social Justice and the Encyclopaedias of Women and Islamic Cultures. She is the author of In the Sea of National Building: Anchoring Women’s Rights in the Iraqi Constitution which appeared in Critical Half. Manal was lead author and researcher in Women for Women International’s 2004 Briefing Paper titled Windows of Opportunity – The Pursuit of Gender Equality in Post-War Iraq and one of the lead contributors for Oxfam International’s 2007 Briefing Paper titled Rising to the Humanitarian Challenge Inside Iraq. Manal has also contributed a short story for the anthology Living Islam Outloud: American Muslim Women Speak.

Manal with Sudanese IDPs from Darfur, Bahr Al Ghezal, and Upper Nile. Khartoum, 2005Manal is on the advisory board of Peaceful Families Project, an organization with international reach that recognizes domestic violence is a form of oppression that affects people of all faiths. She also serves on the advisory board of Prosperty Catalyst and Women’s Voices Now.  She was named among Top 500 World’s Most Influential Arabs by Arabia Business Power in 2011 and 2012, and among the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World by  Georgetown University and The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre in 2009 .In 2007, Islamic Magazine named her one of the ten young visionaries shaping Islam in America. She holds a master's degree in Arab studies from Georgetown University and a bachelor's degree in international relations from George Mason University

Recently, Manal has relocated to Washington D.C, where she lives with her extended family.  Manal continues to work on international issues related to women in Iraq and Afghanistan.  At the same time, she has returned to working on national issues, with a particular focus on inter-faith work and mobilization of American Muslim communities.   She is the founder of, an online community working towards provide information on presidential candidates, voter registration, and public policy issues to empower American Muslim to exercise the right to vote.