On November 21, the 2009 Global Women’s Mentoring Walk took place in six countries across the globe, convening established women leaders and rising professionals in an effort to foster the leadership potential of the next generation of aspiring women leaders. Organized locally by Vital Voices alumnae of the FORTUNE/US State Department Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership, the first walk to be held in Egypt was carried out with great success. Participant and organizer Noha Khattab, senior vice president at a regional private equity firm, writes on her experience and the mentoring walk in the post below.
Fellow FORTUNE/US State Department Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership alumnae Ghada Darwish, Nermeen Nosseir and myself are proud to report the success of Egypt’s first mentoring walk. Held under the auspices of the Ministry of Family and Population, and sponsored by ExxonMobil and Al Azhar Part, our walk had 120 participants from many disciplines including business, NGOs, media, advertizing, medicine, and education among others.
Before the walk, we had matched mentors with mentees; some mentors walked with only one mentee, while others walked with as many as three mentees. The event was kicked off when Ghada, Nermeen and I gave an overview of the idea of mentoring, and what the walk will be about. We spoke about how we were introduced to the idea of mentoring through the FORTUNE/State Department Global Women’s Mentoring Program, and how we hope that this walk, which is Egypt’s first, would be the first of many to come. We said that we want to work towards reaching out to more and more women, especially marginalized women.
We subsequently handed things over to the Minister of Family and Population, Moushira Khattab, who welcomed the participants and spoke about the importance of mentoring. Minister Khattab participated in the walk and had two mentees. The walk was also attended by U.S. Ambassador Margaret Sobey and members of the U.S. Embassy. Although the Ambassador’s staff had informed us that the Ambassador would only be able to stay for the welcoming due to a longstanding engagement, the Ambassador surprised us all by not only attending the opening, but participating in most of the walk and giving an unplanned, yet very encouraging, speech before she left. This was a huge vote of confidence for everyone. The Ambassador also offered to serve as a mentor and walked with a mentee.
Although we are still in the process of collecting feedback, the overwhelming majority of participants gave very positive feedback. We know of many mentors and mentees who have decided to continue their mentoring relationships by exchanging phone numbers and email addresses, and arranging follow-up meetings.