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The Mentorship Walk

February 1, 2013 7 minute Read by Charity Wallace

This guest blog was written by Amany Eid, a 2012 Fellow from the Women's Initiative Fellowship Program.

I returned to Cairo after the completion of the first part of the Women’s Initiative Fellowship Program with a wealth of information, experience and an incredible network - which I did not know how to utilize. I had already made plans, but these plans fell apart with the changing political and economic front in Egypt. I felt lucky, to have been given the opportunity and exposure that I had by attending the Women’s Initiative Fellowship Program, and wanted to give back, but did not know how, and the conditions were difficult. And then I got an email in August, requesting volunteers to conduct the Vital Voices Mentorship Walk for Women in November 17th in Egypt. I had been through a mentorship program, and had benefited it from it, so it was a way to pay back that great experience. I partnered with another volunteer, Manal, to organize the Walk. The walk would last between three and four hours, which was a challenge by itself. In Egypt, for a group of women to walk around without security in an organized gathering is not always the wisest choice. So we tried to customize the walk, to suit Egypt and the current conditions of our country. At first I had a difficult time fundraising and garnering support. I was becoming desperate, and about to give up on the walk, but it was such a good chance to give back, and I did not want to lose the opportunity. I kept remembering Charity Wallace (the director of the Women’s Initiative) saying, “the strength of a woman is in her network” in the various meetings we had attended in the U.S. With this in mind I looked at my friend’s lists on Facebook, people I have either worked with, are friends with, or are acquaintances that I got to meet. I thought- maybe there is an opportunity there. There was a training we took – which talked about classifying your network, into the benefits you can get from each one, such as emotional support, professional advice. This all made me think of the event, and how I can tackle it. Initially, I was embarrassed to ask for help. I then remembered Neena Newberry in her class, at SMU, when she explained how we can be making other people feel good by asking them for help, and how to position everything in a win-win format, by finding a benefit for the other party. Meanwhile, we had our in-country training in Cairo in September. I told everyone that I was going to do the walk, and we had a session where we talked about our commitments, and the walk was one of mine. I became committed and I was stuck. I was also very lucky, that my partner Manal was very determined too to do the walk, even if it was going to be a few people in a symbolic walk. Utilizing everything that I have learnt, professionally and in the Women’s Initiative Fellowship Program, we did the walk. We had a great venue, which we got complimentary, as it was a non-profit event; we got sponsorship for catering from a famous French restaurant. We conducted two training sessions and three panel discussions (I was imitating the panels I saw in the U.S.). We had NGO’s in the hall of our venue at booths advertising the women’s programs they offered. A friend of mine, who quit her job as a Marketing Executive to set up her cooking TV show, came along and sponsored a coffee break with her own creations and we had one of her shows played on screen. We had songs playing in the background about Egypt and Egyptian women. The panel discussions involved women leaders who were successful and who played significant roles in the community. The training sessions were about social networking, and identifying yourself through it, as well as looking seeking beauty in life. As for the walk, many women were scared to walk in the street, so we got an NGO called Bassma, which does anti-harassment patrolling, to escort us along the walk. The walk, which started a little after 9am, had a few people – around 20 mentors and mentees. As we arrived to the event hall, we found the remainder of the women. In the end we had around 120 women of all ages involved in the day. We received many thank yous and requests for more events like this one. These comments made all the efforts put in organizing this event worthwhile. Finally, for three consecutive upcoming months, we will be giving training for the mentees who have attended the walk. The trainings will be conducted by professional trainers and will be about identifying strengths and exploring one’s potential.  These trainings will be conducted free of charge, and the sign-up for them is already complete, with almost a 100+ attendees. We have also partnered with Microsoft and their e-mentoring portal, and the women who have attended the program (mentors & mentees) will be the first ones to try its various resources which including high quality training material. In the end the walk was a success and I now want to do even more to continue to make positive contributions to my community. I am not sure with what or how yet, but I know I have a strong network to rely on in anything I take on in the future.

This guest blog was written by Amany Eid, a 2012 Fellow from 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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