March 8, 2017 — Today, AMIDEAST joins the global community in celebrating International Women’s Day, an annual event dedicated to promoting gender equality and inclusivity by highlighting notable achievements of women in various fields. AMIDEAST is committed to empowering women throughout the Middle East and North Africa by expanding educational and training opportunities that can lead to personal and career success. We are proud to say that our efforts are making a difference—in 2016, women comprised more than half of all students participating in our educational exchange and scholarship programs, and 350 women received employability skills training tailored to help women overcome gender barriers to employment. Take a look at any of our programs throughout the MENA region, and you will find talented women showcasing their intelligence, creativity, and determination. Here are just a few of our most notable stories from the past year:
Amira studies law at Mansoura University thanks to a scholarship through the U.S.-Egypt Higher Education Initiative (HEI), a USAID-funded program that provides opportunities for undergraduate study at Egypt’s public universities. One of three blind students currently in the HEI program, Amira is challenging herself daily to increase her independence and confidence while pursuing her long-term goal of defending the rights of the poor and underserved members of society.
To date, 495 women in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Morocco have completed AMIDEAST’s Skills for Success® program. Many have since found jobs, started internships, considered starting a business, or returned to school. A surprising outcome, in fact, is that over 40 percent of the graduates across three countries have decided to continue their studies, at university or elsewhere, because of the new-found confidence and determination that they gained in the program.
No wonder, then, that the two-year-old program featured prominently at the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM)’s recent high-level conference, “Women for the Mediterranean: Driving Force for Development and Stability.” The assembled ministers, experts, and representatives of international organizations, civil society, and NGOs identified employment creation as key to strengthening the role of women as agents of change for the MENA region.
When Fulbright alumni come together, no problem is too big to solve. This was the unofficial message of the Fulbright Alumni Regional Conference on Natural Resources that was held in Cairo, Egypt, from December 4-8, 2016. This event was the first in a series of seminars designed to bring MENA region alumni together around common professional themes. The Conference on Natural Resources attracted former Fulbrighters working in fields as diverse as cancer research and meteorology. However, all participants had a passion for studying the complex relationship between humans and their environment.
Adnan Saddiqi, Counselor for Public Affairs at the U.S. embassy in Cairo, set the tone for the conference when he opened by saying, “Some of the most important natural resources are human resources.” How true this is for the Fulbright program. Fulbright students, scholars, and alumni are invaluable resources. Here is a telling example: after each conference attendee presented their current research and held a Q&A session, there was a flurry of business card exchanges, suggestions, and proposals. There was also interest in future collaboration among these participants.
Washington, DC, and Cairo, Egypt, December 7, 2016―AMIDEAST/Egypt and Citi Foundation have announced the launch of the Youth Entrepreneurship Program, a two-year partnership aimed at providing economic opportunities that will directly impact 40 aspiring young Egyptian entrepreneurs and further benefit as many as 600 other youth.
The program will focus on building a new generation of entrepreneurs by helping them to get their business ideas off the ground. AMIDEAST is now accepting application online through its webpage, www.amideast-yep.org, until January 31, 2017
AMIDEAST aims to provide access to higher education for as many students as possible. With this in mind, it is fundraising for 10 additional scholarships to Egyptian public university excellence programs—beyond what has already been funded under the U.S.-Egypt Higher Education Initiative (HEI) Public University Scholarships program. Meet Ahmed, Mehad, and Souad, three bright young Egyptian students who, without the HEI program, would never have had the opportunity to attend these quality programs and open new doors to their future.
Under a new agreement with ETS Global, AMIDEAST will continue to serve as the exclusive Country Master Distributor (CMD) in Egypt, Tunisia, and the UAE for ETS Global’s TOEFL® and TOEIC® families of tests, ensuring that students, businesses, and institutions continue to benefit from access to ETS Global's internationally recognized tests of English for both academic and professional purposes.
The new agreement builds on AMIDEAST’s successes in expanding access to ETS testing products since ETS Global selected the organization to be the Country Master Distributor for in the three countries in 2010.
The TOEFL family of tests includes the TOEFL ITP® Assessment Series, which provides higher education institutions with the tools to evaluate English-language proficiency from high beginning to advanced levels. The TOEFL ITP is used for academic placement or admissions purposes by approximately 2,500 higher education institutions worldwide.
Women@Work program aims to help 200 women secure decent work.
Washington, DC, September 21, 2015—AMIDEAST is pleased to have been selected by the International Labour Organization (ILO) to implement an employability skills training program for recent female graduates of public universities in Egypt. The ILO-funded program, which will be called Women@Work, will provide 200 unemployed women ages 21 to 26 with transferable skills that will enhance their job prospects and ability to find decent work.
The program’s focus on women is important. Both young women and men in Egypt face great challenges to finding decent employment, a clearly defined universal and indivisible objective, based on fundamental values and principles. However, the unemployment rate for Egyptian women is almost three times that of men, according to recent government data.
“I love movies," recalls Taher Refat, an English-language trainee at the at the American Language Center (ALC) in Damietta, a city in the Nile Delta. "Before learning English, I couldn't watch movies without subtitles! But it’s getting easy now, and I enjoy it. I can also listen to a song with lyrics and understand most of it,”
The ALC training center is one of 13 English language institutes across Egypt that is affiliated with AMIDEAST through an offsite service providers program that AMIDEAST introduced in 2006 in order to serve Egyptians living beyond Cairo and Alexandria. OffSite Service Providers (OSPs) provide AMIDEAST language education certification remotely, on their premises.
Interest among Egyptians in study in the United States was apparent at the annual StudyUSA College Fairs hosted by AMIDEAST in Cairo and Alexandria in October. More than 2,000 students converged on the events, eager for a chance to meet face-to-face with representatives from U.S. colleges and universities. For many students, the possibilities for scholarships were uppermost in their minds. But they were also eager to hear firsthand about the types of academic programs offered, campus life, and extracurricular activities.
Enrollments of Egyptian students in U.S. institutions of higher learning have been rising modestly in recent years. Last year was no exception. According to the 2014 Open Doors Report, the number of Egyptians at U.S. colleges and universities rose nearly nine percent to reach 2,832 in 2013/14, the highest level in 15 years.