On the path to empowerment: Young Women Leadership Program

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The Young Women Leadership Programme (YWLP) is a two-year project designed to foster a new generation of young women in underprivileged areas of Egypt and equip them with the skills, confidence and experience to take on leadership roles in Egyptian society and make valuable contributions to their communities. The program officially started 1 September 2007 and will end 1 September 2009.

The YWLP encourages young women to enter the public sphere by overcoming the social and traditional barriers which often make it difficult for them to do so. Throughout its two year duration, the program will target 7,120 beneficiaries by developing leadership and advocacy skills of 1,120 young women (18 – 25 years old), as well as 1,200 representatives from the public, private and civil society sectors.


The YWLP will also reach out to 2,400 younger girls (13 – 17) who will be trained and prepared by the YWLP graduates, as the next generation of young women leaders. They will be mentored to make informed decisions on future education and career choices. Additionally 2,400 parents and community members will be reached out to through their daughters and young women community members participating in the Program, which will sensitise them to be accepting and supportive of more women leaders in their communities.


The Near East Foundation, in collaboration with the Centre for Development Services (CDS) based in Cairo (Egypt), is implementing the YWLP. The program is funded by USAID and Barclays Bank Egypt and technically supported by Microsoft. Six community organisations have been chosen to participate in the program; they are located in three (3) Egyptian governorates: Cairo, Beni Suef and El-Minnya. Within each organisation there is a local team comprising of one team leader, one capacity building trainer, two capacity building assistants, one ICT trainer and one English language trainer to deliver the three project components as well as administrative and management staff.


The program is designed in three parts, as follows:


Leadership and Advocacy Skills Acquisition: through a training program comprised of information and communication technology, English language, interpersonal skills, development topics, gender mainstreaming, women’s rights and democratic principles;


Leadership and Advocacy Skills Application: through utilizing their acquired skills in real life situations in the public, private and civil society areas, as well as setting up their own projects and development initiatives. 


Institutional Capacity Building: through offering capacity building and technical assistance to six NGOs and their ICT resource centers, which have been built and equipped by the YWLP.


Despite the progress achieved in education, Egyptian women are still not accessing the public workforce. The gap between young women’s education, abilities and knowledge has resulted in disparities in terms of the quality of skills of the educated labour force and the competences required by the labour market. The YWLP is filling this gap through ensuring the young women participants are equipped with the required skills which will render them employable, combined with a growth in their confidence levels leading to improved leadership and advocacy abilities, both of which are key skills for the labour market and as young active women leaders in Egyptian society.


The young women participants of the YWLP will emerge from the Program informed and equipped with the skills, confidence and experience to assume leadership roles in Egyptian society and make valuable contributions to their communities. They will be able to design and work on their own business projects and initiatives.



Do you plan on branching out to all of Egypt?

As you will see from the summary above, the project is taking place in six organisations across three Egyptian governorates. The organisations were selected based on fulfilling certain criteria such as the capacity of the organisations, needs of the young women in the area, remoteness and ability to accommodate an ICT facility, previous experience and accountability in working on development projects and their ability and willingness to ensure continuity and sustainability of the project’s aims once the project has officially ended.     

Do you think that lots of women are willing to join a project that is 2 years long, especially that you’re targeting underprivileged areas? Why?

The program is divided into three distinctive batches of young women. Each batch will receive the program training within a nine-month duration period.  At the end of the two years, the YWLP will have 1,120 young women graduates of the program. The program has so far been able to recruit the required number of young women for the first year of the project’s duration (two distinctive batches). The number of applicants is a reflection of the popularity of the project and the willingness of communities and families in accepting such new contributions to their society.

On what criteria do you base your choice regarding the participating women?

Women have to first fill in an application form which serves as a pre-assessment tool. The participants are then recruited according to a set of selection criteria distinctive for each NGO. An impartial and transparent selection committee conducts a set of interviews for these young women. In addition, the selection is based on the potential of these young women to become dedicated future community leaders. They must display a willingness and motivation to learn about the topics the project addresses such as gender and development issues and democratic reform and the ability of women to become future leaders.

Is there a certain level of education, they should have passed?

The project is targeting young women between the ages of 18-25. They have to be literate to be part of the program. Some participants are Technical secondary school certificate holders, others have finished their university degrees whereas some are still enrolled at university.

Are you still in need of instructors for certain subjects/ skills?

Instructors and trainers are recruited from the local community to ensure there is a strong community development component and in order to build the capacity of the local teams. The Near East Foundation, in collaboration with the Centre for Development Services (CDS), recruits local trainers and provides them with the required Training of Trainers (TOT) in the different components (ICT, English language, life skills, Development and Advocacy skills) of the program. It also provides the local teams with trainers’ guides and a training curriculum in their respective areas of training. Each trainer is regularly monitored and evaluated by the CDS staff to ensure they are delivering their training according to a certain set of standards and moreover, trainers are often re-trained where contents from previous trainings are re-visited to ensure the sustainability of their skills and knowledge.

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