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Women's Initiative Fellowship

The Bush Institute's Women’s Initiative Fellowship empowers and equips women in the Middle East and North Africa to become effective leaders. Research shows that with a strong professional network, a woman is better able to prosper in her field and expand her influence. Recognizing the significance of networks, each Fellowship class is composed of women from a single country, representing six powerful sectors of society: education, health, business, politics, law, and media. Fellows build leadership skills during the program that they can share with their colleagues and friends, thereby broadening the women’s network.

Core Components

  • In the classroom, Fellows learn key leadership skills, including negotiation, effective team building, leading change, building power networks, influence without authority, effective communication, collaboration across boundaries, and understanding and developing resilience.
  • Fellows develop Personal Leadership Plans to engage and improve their communities and countries.
  • Through mentorship, Fellows experience the practical application of their studies and learn best practices from effective leaders across all sectors. Meet the mentors | View our action partners


After participation in the program, 30% were awarded a new leadership position

Meet the Fellows

In the Spotlight: Hadeer Maher, 2013 Fellow

At 22, Hadeer Maher was already making a significant difference as a social entrepreneur in Egypt. She was passionate about creating a culture of reading in her country, but recognized that girls and boys in rural Egypt often have no access to school or a public library. So Hadeer created a mobile library to bring the books directly to the children.

She invested in herself, too, by applying for the Women’s Initiative Fellowship at the Bush Institute. A flight to Dallas for the start of the program marked her first trip out of Egypt and her next step in becoming further equipped and empowered to lead. After she returned home, she traveled to India, putting her new skills into action and learning more about how development work can succeed in a developing country.

She fostered economic opportunities for women survivors of sex-trafficking from Nepal, Bangladesh, and India. “I wanted to be the voice of the voiceless,” she explained. Hadeer’s ardent belief that Egyptian youth hold the promise of a bright future in her country inspired Abbar, an education startup she founded that uses modern curriculum to work with Egyptian teens. At every step, Hadeer says she “integrated what I learned as a Bush Institute Women’s Initiative Fellow.”

Hadeer believes that together, the Fellows will “create something big.”

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Fellows report that more than 17,000 women are part of their growing networks

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“Leadership is a choice, not a gift”

- Emna Ben Arab, Tunisian Fellow

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