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Despite the troubling news and rising concern about Egypt, the women who make up the Women’s Initiative Fellowship are making strides toward improving their society. The George W. Bush Institute is proud to launch a blog series that spotlights the courageous and innovative Egyptian women who are members of the 2013 Women’s Initiative Fellowship class. Over the next several months, the Women’s Initiative will highlight the accomplishments of these remarkable women. The first in this series celebrates three women who are contributing to the betterment of their communities amidst the unrest and extremely challenging circumstances they are facing in Egypt today. Building upon the leadership training and skills they received during the U.S. portion of the Fellowship, the Fellows are furthering the development and advancement of Egypt and leaving a significant mark on society.
Esraa Fathy, Owner and Senior Fashion Designer
Esraa is the talented Owner and Senior Fashion Designer of Ostora Manufacturing Company, where she promotes the artistic talents of women who reside in the slums of Cairo. Esraa believes that providing underserved women with the right training and job opportunities will help them escape poverty and significantly improve their living conditions. She has been featured in many successful art exhibitions in Egypt and has received a number of awards in Egypt and Saudi Arabia for her work.
Since returning to Egypt in April, Esraa successfully designed and launched “The Ramadan Collection.” This collection features a variety of abayas (a garment that covers the entire body with the exception of the head, hands and feet) and dresses dedicated to prayer during the Ramadan holiday. With over 300 pieces, the collection was widely distributed to retail outlets throughout Egypt.
Esraa is looking to expand the sale of her products by creating a strong online presence in addition to collaborating with retailers outside of Egypt. Through her creative efforts, she affords women the opportunity to make a better life for themselves and their families. She embodies what the Fellowship was designed to promote – a ripple effect.
Photos of her Ramadan collection, sketches and other work can be found below.
In the midst of Egypt’s unrest, it is heartening to hear reports such as these. We believe these women will continue to play a powerful role in effecting change in their communities and are proud of their accomplishments. Individually, these women are strong; as a class, they form a resilient circle with a powerful vision for the future of their beloved country.
Betsy Martin, Regional Development Director, joined the George W. Bush Presidential Center in 2013. A member of the development team, she is responsible for building relationships with corporations, foundations, and other non-profit organizations. She works closely with Bush Institute program directors to obtain support for projects in education reform, economic growth, human freedom, global health, women's empowerment, and aid to U.S. military veterans.
Most recently, Martin served as Deputy Director of the Women's Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute. In this role, she was responsible for setting and implementing the vision of the Women's Initiative which seeks to empower women worldwide to lead in their communities and countries. During her tenure, Martin directed a year-long leadership program for rising women leaders in the Middle East and North Africa and highlighted stories of hope in Afghanistan through the publishing and promotion of We Are Afghan Women: Voices of Hope.
Prior to joining the Bush Center, Martin served as a Senior Event Coordinator for the Washington Speakers Bureau where she managed speaking engagements and advance for Mrs. Laura Bush, Jenna Bush Hager, Barbara Bush, and Governor Jeb Bush. Martin served in the Bush Administration as Scheduler and Trip Coordinator to Mrs. Laura Bush.
A native of Mississippi, Martin graduated from Samford University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies. She serves on the Advisory Board for the Akola Project.
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