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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 Miral and Vivian:
For Miral, this year has been one a self-discovery and confidence building. The Fellowship has helped Miral identify her true purpose and passion, and hone her skills in the creative arts. Having found her passion, she is in the process of establishing an entity to develop Awakeners – videos designed to encourage positive behavior change. This will be the first such entity of its kind in Egypt. Awakeners tackle simple issues, such as encouraging people to smile, to deeper issues like motivating them to actively contribute to positive change, including tackling illiteracy problem or addressing women issues.
Miral also studied Reiki (healing with energy) and has received her certification from the UK as a Reiki practitioner. Her work as a Reiki practitioner is giving her an outlet to help people through restoring their bodies’ imbalances, both physical and emotional, and thus improving their lives.
Miral finds using her artistic and creative talents to improve people’s lives her unique way of affecting positive change in Egypt. Her goal is to expand Awakeners locally and internationally. She plans to continue her self-development by engaging in further Reiki studies and by obtaining a Masters in Fine Arts to help her in her pursuits.
Vivian Labib Noeur, Social Entrepreneur
“Social responsibility is not an option; it is an obligation”
Vivian Labib Noeur is an international award-winning artist and social entrepreneur who believes in using arts and social initiatives to serve the community. She is the founder of Charisma Arts, a social enterprise that helps marginalized communities produce an income through manufacturing and selling genuine Egyptian handmade items. Charisma Arts was founded in 2002 and currently employs 163 individuals who are empowered through the selling of their handicrafts.
Vivian was selected as one of the speakers at the recent and prestigious TedXCairo Women, where she shared about being a successful female entrepreneur. Her message to the audience centered around the idea of using one’s distinct talents to serve society. She explained that using our individual talents is like colors in a painting and each color is critical to its makeup – just like each woman, child and man is critical to the painting of Egypt’s future. She encouraged participants to embrace their unique differences and charisma in order to succeed at their life’s goals.
Vivian has since created a program, The Box of Colors, which aims to reach school-aged children in Cairo. As Vivian notes, she wants “to inspire the younger generation to be a catalyst and part of the future Egypt deserves to have.” This artistic event is an awareness campaign that brings together local Egyptian artists to explore ideas of diversity and peace building through drawing, theater and music. As a result of the program, children learn that they are like the colors in their school’s crayon box – different from their peers but when working together, they create a beautiful picture.
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.
Strengthening Egypt’s Refugee Programs
WE Lead Scholar Noha Sebaiee shares how critical international support in Egypt is to helping asylum seekers build successful futures.
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.