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Legacy of the Women's Initiative Fellowship

WIF graduate Emna Jeblaoui, who is a peace, security, and counter-radicalization expert, recently organized The Women for Peace Media Summit, a media training seminar for women leaders in Tunisia, in collaboration with her WIF mentor, Shirin Taber.

Article by Shannon Bradford and Christopher Walsh June 7, 2017 //   3 minute read

The Bush Institute believes in the transformational potential of including women more fully in their societies.  For this reason, the Bush Institute has endeavored to develop women leaders in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) through the Women’s Initiative Fellowship (WIF).  Since 2012, the program has graduated four cohorts of women leaders from Egypt and Tunisia. Alumnae include doctors, judges, teachers, and other rising stars who have used skills they honed through the WIF to make lasting impacts in their communities.

Among the WIF graduates is Tunisia’s Emna Jeblaoui, executive director of the International Institute for Human Development (IDH), who is a peace, security, and counter-radicalization expert. In May 2017, Emna organized The Women for Peace Media Summit, a media training seminar for women leaders in Tunisia. She did so in collaboration with her WIF mentor, Shirin Taber, director of the Middle East Women’s Leadership Network. The conference showed participants how to use their online presence to amplify their work promoting peace and security. Participants included women leaders from the Tunisian parliament, police force, and embassies, as well as representatives from the United Nations and other international organizations. Nine alumnae of the WIF also participated, in addition to one mentor, Jenifer Sarver, who served as a workshop trainer.

Emna and Shirin’s collaboration not only promoted cross-cultural communication and networking to address skills gaps, but also applied key concepts learned through WIF courses, including influencing others without authority, effective communication, and networking.

Women like Emna are helping transform this emerging democracy as it faces challenges related to the economy and terrorism.  She and other women are engaged in building the political and economic infrastructure that helps societies succeed and ensuring that women are heard and included. Fostering institutions that protect all people’s basic freedoms, encouraging widespread economic opportunity, and providing space for nonviolent expression of diverse viewpoints, including those of women, are needed for peaceful, prosperous societies to endure. The absence of such infrastructure breeds discontent and extremism.

The Bush Institute will continue to support the voices of women like Emna in the MENA region. It is not only in the best interest of those countries for the sake of their prosperity, but also in the national security interests of the United States.