The She Leads program supports justice between men and women and raising the sustainable impact of girls and young women in decision-making through three areas: first, the social, cultural, and community mobilization field, second, the field of civil society organizations to strengthen capacities, joint learning, and networking, and third, the institutional field, which seeks to enable the meaningful participation of participants to practice lobbying and evidence-based advocacy and research in the MENA region.
In accordance with this goal, the Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD) and the Terre des Hommes organization held a regional digital seminar on Tuesday, November 14, 2023, entitled: “Challenges and Solutions Towards Strengthening Women’s Leadership”, to support participants in understanding their leadership roles by discussing the tools, skills, current challenges, and basic knowledge that women need for leadership, and to inspire them to take leadership paths through the examples and stories shared by the speakers who hold leadership positions in various fields, to serve as role models for them, within the framework of the She Leads program.
Heba Adel, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the Egyptian Women Lawyers for Human Rights Foundation, said that “solidarity is the basis of leadership for women, as we live in societies that hold many misconceptions and stereotypes that negatively reflect on the development of women’s participation in various professional and development fields,” considering that leadership depends on two aspects: innate talent first, and then education, planning, and how to deal with groups.
Adel pointed out that feminist discourse must address everyone, not only women, in the sense that it reaches men and women side by side, and for the sharing of roles to be done properly and effectively, and so that women’s participation in the decision-making process becomes a reality on the ground, which requires women to expand their network of knowledge, obtain appropriate training, and go to the field to understand the lived reality, and then they will have access to leadership opportunities.
Regarding her “Egyptian Women Lawyers” initiative, Adel stressed that women’s work in the legal profession is not an easy thing, whether on the social, family, or even professional level, so this women’s youth initiative came to enhance their political and social participation and access to decision-making positions. It also analyzes and scrutinizes legislation that is unfair to women and pushes for changing it.
According to Adel, the idea of the initiative began with a group of Egyptian female lawyers gathering on Facebook to support the female lawyers nominated for the membership of the Bar Council and work to form supportive and lobbying groups in order to represent female lawyers in the Bar, in which female lawyers have not been represented since the 1992 Council, which was dissolved in 1995. She added, “The group participated in the work, committees, and research of the annual general conference of lawyers, and its members presented some legal research, followed by a group of female lawyers from several governorates. The group’s activities expanded to include holding special seminars to discuss laws and their amendments, until it was officially established as an Egyptian civil institution in 2013 under the name (Egyptian Women Lawyers Initiative).
For her part, Lebanese activist Lara Bou Jaber, creator of the “Better for You” initiative on mental health, which she started working on with a group of young women during the Covid-19 pandemic, stressed the role of young people in developing themselves, taking care of their mental health, and creating opportunities from scratch, because “no idea is worthless or useless”, according to her.
Bou Jaber spoke about her participation in the United Nations Simulation Conference, which sheds light on the topic of human rights violations, during which she won the Best Diplomacy Award out of 140 participating delegates from more than 45 countries, which is not the first time that Lara represents Lebanon, as she previously participated in the Dubai Human Rights Conference, which dealt with the Palestinian Cause, and also won the Best Diplomacy Award.
As for Samaa Al-Sukkar, a member and media spokesperson at the Amman Governorate Council, she attributed her candidacy and running in the election to “the need of the people of Amman to make their voices heard and have a bigger understanding for their issues, and the need for women’s active participation in their society, as well as her multiple experiences in volunteer work during university and her work with young men and women to empower them politically, socially, and civically.”
Al-Sukkar indicated that she was rejected and harassed by the surrounding community, but she was able, with the support of her family and those close to her, to overcome these hurdles to become the youngest member of the governorate council in the capital, Amman, noting that there are other challenges within the council itself, but she does not heed them and just focuses on her work, in order to change the wrong societal view of women.
The “She Leads” program seeks to support equitable representation between men and women to participate more in decision-making processes, through capacity building activities that focus on increasing girls’ and women’s access to education and skills development, promoting women’s economic empowerment and engagement in the political process, in addition to building their advocacy skills, meaningful interaction, and raising their awareness through a collaborative and inclusive approach at the regional and international levels.