“This trip was worth everything I left behind for it. Now I have 36 sisters.” Thekra Dwairi is one of 37 women to participate in the inaugural TechWomen program funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). The program paired women in Silicon Valley with their counterparts in the Middle East and North Africa for a professional mentorship and exchange program at leading technology companies.
Cisco had the honor of hosting the closing session for this 5 week program at its San Jose, CA headquarters. Each of the mentees presented their key technical and cultural learnings as well as their action plans for when they returned to their home countries: Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, West Bank and Gaza.
Loubna Haouam discusses her goals upon returning to Algeria: exchanging knowledge, encouraging women to learn English and providing computer access
The mentees ranged widely in terms of their backgrounds. Some work for international corporations, while others are local start-up founders. Some are world travelers. One woman mentioned that this is her first time out of her hometown! It was humbling to hear about the challenges these women manage on a day-to-day basis. Just applying for the TechWomen program was a challenge for Egyptian participants. The application deadline, February 1, was at the same time that the government shut down the internet—happily, an extension was provided. Read More »