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The Women’s Initiative Fellowship Journey Continues

Article by Charity Wallace March 16, 2012 //   4 minute read

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