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A Spotlight on the Women’s Initiative Fellows, Part One: Azza, Laila and Reham

Article by Charity Wallace July 17, 2012 //   8 minute read

Building upon the leadership training they received during the U.S. portion of the Women’s Initiative Fellowship Program, the Women’s Initiative Fellows are contributing to the development and advancement of Egypt.

Since returning to Egypt, the Fellows have reunited, participating in two symposiums. In addition, each woman works with her assigned mentor who serves as a resource for assistance, guidance, and counsel. As part of the year commitment of the Fellowship, the Fellows provide progress reports to inform our team of their accomplishments. These reports not only allow us to measure their progress against stated goals, they provide an opportunity to celebrate their impressive successes. The reports highlight the successful way in which the Fellows are using their new network and are a testament to the power of a strong network.  It is amazing to recall that they did not know each other before starting the program, and to witness the strong relationships they have forged with one another. Since they come from various backgrounds, each Fellow brings her unique expertise and talents to the table and, as you will read, the women are tapping into the each other’s strengths to accomplish their goals. We will be releasing a series of blogs that spotlight their achievements.  The first in this series highlights Azza, Laila and Reham.  The Women’s Initiative team delights in the outstanding women who make up the inaugural class of Women’s Initiative Fellowship and are proud to present their remarkable accomplishments. Azza Azza has worked in the financial sector for over 17 years.  She is the chapter president of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) for Egypt.  In April 2010, Azza established the first AFP chapter in the Middle East and North Africa region.  She is currently assisting other Arab countries in creating AFP chapters modeled after the flagship association in Egypt. Azza gives lectures to economics and political science students where she discusses funding for non-governmental organizations (NGOs).  She utilizes her banking knowledge and expertise to help the Association of Friends of the National Cancer Institute to create a fundraising plan for a hospital for children with cancer. Azza’s Recent Work: Azza’s work and latest accomplishments present a perfect example of the value of building a robust woman’s network. Upon her return to Egypt, Azza organized a large conference called Egypt and Future Paths: Reviving Trust Funds in a Modern Context. The conference was established to discuss and create economic solutions to Egypt’s challenges. Tapping into her new network, Azza collaborated with other Women’s Initiative Fellows in the planning of the conference by utilizing the skills and talents of a number of her new colleagues. Women’s Initiative Fellow Nora’s printing house produced all printed materials; May designed the website banners; Amany assisted by escorting the conference guest speaker; and Enas documented the conference through her photography. Azza’s conference was extremely successful, garnering broad media attention. The conference was covered by 10 local Egyptian newspapers and four television stations. Azza used the media training she received through the Fellowship during her interviews with local television.  Another notable measure of the success of Azza’s conference is the amount of pledges her cause received. Her sponsor signed a pledge of $200,000,000 EGP (the equivalent of $32 million USD) to the new Egyptian National Cancer Institute, as well as $600,000 EGP for a new extension to Hospital 57357, one of the largest hospitals specializing in children’s cancer treatment in the world. Azza recently partnered with the ALROWAD Initiative, a not-for-profit entity formed with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).  This partnership was created to expand the provision of business advisory services and support the creation of jobs in Egypt. Azza is dedicated to her laudable cause and inspires others with her success. Laila Laila created the model for an International Criminal Court Initiative that aims to enhance law students’ knowledge and provide them with opportunities to practice their legal skills. She is the head of international relations at a youth initiative, which provides local and international networking opportunities for Egyptian youth. The initiative organizes youth-to-youth education workshops, forums, cultural and artistic activities, and social entrepreneurship activities. Additionally, the program informs participants about scholarships and exchange programs. Laila has a Bachelor’s degree in English and Law.  Laila’s Recent Work: Laila is in the process of establishing her own NGO that will help familiarize law students with the various fields and opportunities in which their legal degrees can be utilized. Laila’s NGO will provide practical legal training to help law students better understand a court’s legal proceedings in an effort to prepare them for the job market after graduation.  Laila aspires to earn a graduate degree in Conflict Prevention and is currently exploring a number of programs in the United States and Europe. Reham Reham works as a marketing and public relations specialist at “We Owe It to Egypt”, a foundation that promotes a better quality of life through the creation of health and education centers. Reham is responsible for the website, advertising campaigns and collateral materials for the foundation. Reham was a member of a team that started a group called, “Because We Do Not Walk This Earth Alone,” that organizes weekly visits to centers for disabled children, orphanages, cancer institutes, and elderly homes. Reham received her Bachelor’s degree in Management and International Business. Reham’s Recent Work: Reham recently completed multiple projects for “We Owe It to Egypt”.  She launched a monthly newsletter that includes updates on the Foundation that will be sent to the bank’s clients and potential donors.  She also developed a Donation Catalogue which is featured on the Foundation’s website.  This module provides a platform for donors to view all possible donations channels.  The channels are segmented by category so that donors can choose the most preferable item for donation. Reham has worked with Fawry, a payment service, to launch their partnership with the “We Owe It to Egypt” Foundation.  This service provides several donation channels that include 10 banks, 1500 different ATM machines, and 3600 retailers. As exemplified in this report, the Fellows are leaving a significant mark on the future of their country.  For Egypt to succeed, it must acknowledge the role women need to play in the shaping of their new democracy.  If women are not equally included in all aspects of life, Egypt risks losing its prominence in the region and, as studies indicate, future stability and prosperity.  Egypt should embrace all its citizens equally and recognize the critical contribution women, like the Women’s Initiative Fellows, add to their rich society. This post was written by Charity Wallace, Director of the Women’s Initiative  at the George W. Bush Institute.