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Published March 01 2010

Fargo rep to join Iraqi women legislators

A Fargo state legislator will travel to Iraq in the coming days to help monitor the country’s upcoming March election.

Republican Bette Grande is one of nine women nationwide chosen by the National Foundation for Women Legislators to comprise a special delegation, in conjunction with the State Department, that will oversee the Iraqi election on March 7 and serve as role models for women leaders there.

“One of my great hopes is that the women there have the opportunity to see women of like ambitions,” Grande said. “They have the desire for their country to succeed and their ability to step up and be heard – and it’s a rare thing for them.

“If they see that it is OK and that they have support from across the world, that’s the critical piece,” she added. “It’s a comfort for them.”

Grande had planned to leave Fargo over the weekend and expects to be back in about 12 days. She said she cannot share specific travel plans due to security restrictions from the State Department.

Grande said the group will help create a comfortable, open and secure environment for the Iraqi people to vote, such as by ensuring female security guards are present to screen women voters as they enter the polls.

“It’s not like here, where you just walk in, flash your driver’s license, vote and walk out,” Grande said. “It’s a very secure location, and they need that protection.

“With the presence of international people, that type of thing tends to work better,” she said. “They know we’re present, and things run more properly.”

Grande said she is honored to be chosen as part of the delegation. She has been involved with the national group since 1997 and previously traveled to Honduras for a trip focusing on economic policy.

“Grande has shown herself to be a strong leader through NFWL, and I know her presence in Iraq during this historic time will insure the Iraqi people have a real chance at democracy,” NFWL President and CEO Robin Read said in a statement.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541