As a pioneer of online media in Jordan, Lara Ayoub knows well how the power of the Internet in global communications is changing the world. She is the portal manager of two leading newspapers in Jordan, Al Ghad and Al-Waseet. Forbes magazine (Middle East) recently ranked Al Ghad first for news sites in Jordan and 10th in the Middle East overall.
The distinction earned Lara a place in the 2010 class of the Fortune/U.S. State Department’s Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership, facilitated by Vital Voices each year in Washington, D.C. Participants of the program join 20-30 other women professional leaders from around the world, share skills and experiences, and carry out mentorships with top American female executives. During the month-long program, Lara learned essential skills for both achieving her professional goals and empowering other women in her community back home.
The Vital Voices tenet of “paying it forward” stayed with Lara and became her mantra. She realized that more women are needed at the table, and she wanted to create a way for women to connect and open a dialogue, regardless of their geographical limitations.
One step toward that goal came when a new Vital Voices program kicked off in Amman, Jordan, called Policy Advocates for Women’s Issues in the MENA Region. Lara quickly signed on and joined participants from 10 countries across the MENA region for a training workshop on advocacy, leadership and teambuilding, and social media skills.
Lara and her team from Jordan are working on a campaign to increase compliance with an article of the Jordanian Labor Code that requires companies and organizations in Jordan with more than 20 employees who are mothers to establish daycare centers within the office for the children of employees. The team plans to identify and work with one corporation and one government entity to establish the required childcare facilities.
Experiencing the first-hand the commitment of the Vital Voices Global Leadership Network, Lara is working to build an online network where women can find each other and develop their skills and ideas through mentorship. This work brings together two of her passions — a desire to share the power of mentoring and her knowledge of online media — to create a network of women to share experiences, raise awareness and empower each other.
“Through this, the future generations of our society will flourish with the contributions of confident, successful, accomplished Arab women,” says Lara. “They, in turn, will continue to mentor many others and pay it forward.”