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Ripple Effect: Spotlighting Jacqueline Mourad, Jeanne Guirrguis and Esraa Fathy
Despite recent reports highlighting the increasing discrimination against women in Egypt, the Women’s Initiative Fellows are courageously facing these challenges. Building upon the leadership training and skills they received during the U.S. portion of the Bush Institute’s Women’s Initiative Fellowship, the Fellows are actively working to improve their communities and country. 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. Meet Jacqueline, Jeanne and Esraa:
Jacqueline Mourad, Deputy Executive Director, Professional Development Foundation
Jacqueline is the Deputy Executive Director at Professional Development Foundation, an NGO that contributes to Egypt’s economic growth and aims to increase Egypt’s global competitiveness through enhancing workforce performance. Her passion for the history of Egypt gives Jacqueline hope for her country’s future. Jacqueline believes that Egyptian youth have the potential to make a great impact, and she develops and implements programs that provide the next generation with the skills and education necessary to further the development of their country. Jacqueline holds a Bachelor of Arts in Archaeology from the University of Cairo and a M.B.A. from Maastricht School of Management in the Netherlands.
Upon returning to Egypt in April, Jacqueline began working on a computer refurbishment campaign. Her team recognized that the poorest Egyptians are limited to computer use in public centers, restricting families’ computer use to the hours of operation of these centers. In seeking to address this issue, they found that government agencies, corporations and businesses tend to replace their computers on average every two to five years. By obtaining the computers from these companies, the program can refurbish the computers and sell them at a reduced rate to lower income families, affording them access to technology at home. As Jacqueline explains, “The campaign seeks to give these computers a second life in the hands of those who cannot afford new ones.”
Her team recently crossed two major mile markers on their way to launching the pilot program. First, they partnered with a repair company in San Francisco that will provide repair toolkits and technology support free of charge. These toolkits will provide the technicians with the necessary tools to refurbish and prepare the computers for their second life. Secondly, the campaign received the endorsement of a corporation in Egypt that will provide hands-on training and support for the staff members as they obtain, refurbish and distribute these computers.
With the aforementioned progress, the program’s pilot will launch in the coming months. We look forward to reporting on its future success.
Jeanne Guirrguis, Head, Gender Development at Media Arts for Development
Jeanne is Head of the Gender Department at Media Arts for Development (MADEV) in Egypt, an organization that uses media production and training as a way to create positive social change and promote rights-based development. Through her work, Jeanne works to create social change by using media to educate and empower women. Jeanne holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, as well as a Professional Counseling diploma.
Upon returning to Egypt following the U.S. portion of the Women’s Initiative Fellowship, Jeanne has hosted four training sessions with 124 men, women and girls. Two of these noteworthy sessions are highlighted below:
The first session brought together 48 young girls, ages 15-18, from the slums in Cairo. The session addressed the importance of healthy relationships with the goal of lowering the recurrence of emotional abuse, domestic and sexual violence and gender discrimination. Jeanne’s team was pleasantly surprised to find how quickly the women opened up to each other in their breakout groups, hungry to discuss the topics at hand. As Jeanne observed, “No one had allowed them to express their needs before and still respect them.” The training afforded these young women with a safe space to discuss the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships without fear of repercussion.
The second session targeted 20 illiterate women ages 17-50 from local villages. This session was designed to outline the steps to gain an ID card, an impossible dream for many women. In the Middle East, an ID card is synonymous with belonging to society – it affords citizens basic rights, including a voice in elections. Jeanne’s team began the session by outlining the necessary steps in the cumbersome process. As they delivered the information, they realized that the women were grappling with the issue of their worth and value. The trainers then began addressing why the women are worthy of even applying for an ID card. Through interactive tools like drawing, film and pictures, they helped convey ideas of self-worth and confidence. By the end of the session, the women left with something even greater than an ID card – they left with the knowledge that they were important, valuable and that they belonged.
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.
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.
Dreamer to Achiever
In Egypt, it was not common for women to run or play sports in public. 2013 WE Lead Scholar Mariz Doss worked to change that perception.
WE Lead Graduation
The inaugural class of WE Lead scholars graduated from the 5-month program on March 21. WE Lead seeks to empower and equip women to become more effective leaders and to advance economic opportunity in their communities and countries.
Q&A with WE Lead Scholar Nadia Behboodi
Nadia Behboodi, a 2019 WE Lead Scholar from Afghanistan, is CEO of the Afghan Women’s Organization for Research, Learning, and Development. She volunteers with Seeds of Change, a network of professional women and men standing for female leadership at all levels, and manages Afghanistan’s first circle of the Lean In network, which promotes female empowerment.