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Ripple Effect: Spotlighting Mariz Doss, Rowida Eldeep and Shaima Tantaway
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.
Mariz Doss, Events Specialist, Cairo Runners
“I couldn’t run in my own city because it was not safe for me.”
An avid runner and sports enthusiast, Mariz is improving her community through sports. Mariz joined Cairo Runners in the spring of 2013 with the shared vision of creating a safe street- running environment for men, women and children – a new concept for Egypt. What started out with 60 runners has turned into 3,000+ runners who meet every Friday to run through the streets of Cairo. In addition to creating a safe running environment, each Friday run raises awareness for different causes including cancer, diabetes and violence against women among others. Cairo Runners is actively planning the city’s second half marathon in February with a hope to host Egypt’s first credited marathon in 2015.
And that’s just her volunteer work.
Mariz currently serves as sales support representative at American President Lines (APL) Egypt, LLC. In addition to working at APL, Mariz is a member of the Wadi Sports Camp (WSC) team, where she contributes as a sports coordinator and counselor.
Learn more about Cairo Runners here:
“My biggest goal is to support women entering Parliament – and not just supporting them, but to increase their numbers.”
After returning to Egypt in April, Rowida decided to leave her job at the Egyptian Democratic Academy and join the Cairo Institute for Human Rights. Though her job changed, her focus has not. Rowida’s passion is still to increase the number of women candidates in parliament.
Rowida believes research is one of the first steps in this process. She is currently gathering and assessing data concerning voters’ views towards women candidates, experiences of current women parliamentarians, and standing legislation regarding a woman’s role to run and participate in parliament. This research is key to crafting smarter messaging, better informing women politicians’ campaigns, and developing and passing necessary legislation to support women candidates.
In addition to her research, Rowida created and launched a successful workshop in partnership with the British Council. The workshop teaches women the importance of becoming active citizens in their communities and has currently spread to 11 provinces throughout Egypt.
Finally, Rowida is working to organize a league of women voters. She notes that, “If women’s votes can count for women, this will be a very important change in Egypt.” She strongly believes that women are the best defenders of women’s rights and hopes to help shift the negative mindset culture places on women politicians. Through research, workshops and perception shifts, Rowida believes that her dream to see more women in parliament can become a reality.
“I created a new program called the Women’s Initiative Fellowship Program designed for women in the slum area of Cairo to give them a voice and opportunity”
After returning to Egypt in April from the US portion of the Fellowship, Shaima decided to create her own “Women’s Initiative Fellowship Program”. She saw firsthand the value of women mentoring women in the same field and wanted to offer the same experience to women in her home network. Though the program’s launch was delayed due to unrest in Egypt, she is excited to begin training with her first class of 35 fellows on December 14, 2013.
Shaima, along with her team, has also been working to improve living conditions in a destitute Egyptian village. Though the city faces a myriad of problems, lack of clean water is one of the most pressing and they have been diligently working to provide the proper connections for pure water. In addition, her team recently developed and launched a workshop, "ART and Creativity Center," for the children in the village. Famous artists in Egypt partnered with Shaima’s team to lead this workshop, exposing the village children to the beauty and value of art. They plan to continue the art workshops and hope to expand these classes into a more permanent education center, which the entire community can enjoy. As Shaima notes, “What we are trying to do now [is] to establish this center by their own efforts with our support, so that they will feel commitment toward the place.”
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.
Women’s Economic Participation in Afghanistan
WE Lead Scholar Shahnaz Nasr shares how she is fostering economic empowerment for women in Afghanistan.
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.