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The Women’s Initiative Fellowship Journey Continues

March 16, 2012 by Charity Wallace

The Women’s Initiative inaugural class of Fellows recently returned to Egypt after spending four weeks in the United States. The most rewarding aspects of the last several weeks have been to watch the Fellows discover new concepts and skills, the establishment of a strong support network, and the exponential growth of each individual. During the first week of courses at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, the Fellows learned to express themselves in a compelling fashion, practiced negotiation skills, and worked together to address challenges.  The initial week of courses built the foundation of leadership skills that the women used when they met with influential women and men in New York, Washington, DC, and the Silicon Valley in California during the second week of the program.  The Fellows further developed their abilities during intense one-on-one training with mentors in various cities across the U.S.  The four days spent with their mentors provided an opportunity for each Fellow to shadow her mentor at work and develop a personal action plan, establishing specific goals for the year.  When the women returned to Dallas for the final week, it was striking to witness their transformation. Their confidence was evident and their belief that they will make a significant impact in Egypt was inspiring. The Fellows, who did not know each other prior to participating in the program, formed solid bonds of friendship and established a strong network on which they will rely as they return to Egypt.  Though representing six different professional sectors, the Fellows identified opportunities to collaborate.  This network of women will prove to be a vital support system as their country continues to transition, and as they find their role in building a viable future for their nation. I know the Fellows learned a great deal from their experience, but I also learned much from them.  Egyptian women are extremely strong, and they are optimistic about their personal futures and the future of Egypt.  The Revolution has empowered Egyptians to believe that, as one Fellow said, no one is strong enough to oppress them and no one is weak enough to be oppressed. As the Fellowship program continues over the next year with in-country seminars and on-going communication with the mentors in the U.S., the Fellows will expand their network and increase their influence.  One Fellow noted that when she arrived for the Fellowship, she knew women were important, but after spending a month on the program, she realized that women are a critical component to a vibrant country. The truth of this statement may be tested in Egypt.  But, as Mrs. Bush said, "Our hope is that the Fellows return home equipped to build an Egypt that respects and defends the rights of ALL Egyptian citizens". After spending the last month with the remarkable women who make up the inaugural class of Fellows, I am convinced they will ensure that their voices, and the voices of other women in their country, are heard.  Their contributions to Egypt are sure to have a lasting effect. Watch the Women's Initiative Fellowship Program highlight video:This post was written by Charity Wallace, Director of the Women’s Initiative  at the George W. Bush Institute.   << Return to the Women’s Initiative Fellowship Program


Author

Charity Wallace
Charity Wallace

Charity N. Wallace serves as the Senior Advisor to the Women's Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute and is in an executive graduate program in pursuit of a Global Master of Arts degree in international relations from The Fletcher School at Tufts University. Most recently, Ms. Wallace served as the Vice President of the Global Women’s Initiatives and Senior Advisor to Mrs. Laura Bush. In this role, Ms. Wallace was responsible for setting the vision and managing the policy engagement for the women’s initiatives, including Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon global health initiative, empowering women in the Middle East and working with First Ladies from around the world. The Women's Initiative aims to improve access to education, health care, and economic opportunity for women and children in Africa, the Middle East and Afghanistan.

From February 2009 through September 2010, Wallace served as the Chief of Staff to Mrs. Laura Bush.  Wallace oversaw Mrs. Bush’s initiatives - from her wide ranging policy agenda to her the publishing and promotion of Mrs. Bush’s bestselling book, Spoken from the Heart. Wallace served in the Bush Administration from January 2001 to January 2009.  During her tenure in the administration, she served as Deputy Chief of Protocol of the United States (2007-2009), Director of Advance for First Lady Laura Bush (2004-2007), and worked in public liaison positions in Presidential Advance, the U.S. Department of Education, the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, and USA Freedom Corps. During her tenure in the Bush Administration and in her current role, Wallace has traveled to 70 countries.

Ms. Wallace serves on the Board of Advisors for the School of Public Policy at Pepperdine University, the Advisory Board of ARZU Studio Hope, the Advisory Board of 4word Women and the Advisory Board of All In Together, an bi-partisan organization that promotes women’s engagement in political and civic life.  Ms. Wallace is an ex-officio member on the Human Freedom Advisory Council for the Bush Institute.  Ms. Wallace wrote the foreword for the book Work, Love, Pray, which was released in 2011. A native of California, Ms. Wallace graduated magna cum laude from Pepperdine University with a Bachelor of Arts in political science, with a focus in international relations. 

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