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Legacy of the Women's Initiative Fellowship
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.
Shannon Bradford serves as Program Manager, Leadership Programs, for the George W. Bush Institute, focused on the Liberty and Leadership program and WE Lead.
Prior to joining the George W. Bush Institute in November 2015, Shannon provided communications, media, and marketing support to Amal Women’s Training Center in Marrakech, Morocco, an organization dedicated to job and life skills training for disadvantaged Moroccan women.
A native of Coppell, Texas, Shannon received a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies from Texas A&M University, where she graduated summa cum laude. She is a two-time recipient of the Department of State National Security Language Initiative for Youth scholarship through which she spent nine months in North Africa. Shannon is a proud alumna of Ursuline Academy of Dallas.Full Bio
Christopher Walsh serves as Senior Program Manager for the Human Freedom and Women's Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute. In this role, Christopher manages communications, evaluation, and public policy research projects that advance freedom and democracy in the world. He also develops and implements efforts to make the Bush Institute a welcoming place for today’s generation of dissidents and democracy advocates, overseeing visits for training, inspiration, and insight.
Prior to joining the Bush Institute, Christopher worked with the International Republican Institute in Washington, D.C. As IRI’s program officer for Central and Eastern Europe, he coordinated political party building and civic advocacy programs in the Balkans and Turkey.
A native of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Christopher is a graduate of American University with a B.A. in International Studies. He currently lives in Dallas with his wife and three young children.Full Bio
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.