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A light at the end of the tunnel

Hala Aref is quite active these days on social networking sites to make Egyptian women aware about the possible impacts on their lives due to the controversial constitution. A German alumna and an active voice of the liberal community for the rights of women, Professor Dr. Hala Aref’s Facebook page shows her concerns about the new Egyptian constitution and its probable outcome on her female students at Cairo University. The argument revolving around the new constitution majorly involves its possibility of limiting women rights and freedom. A professor of Veterinary Medicine, she talks about her experiences as a student at the University of Göttingen, Germany. In 1999 she founded the Alumni organization GEAR to support the return and reintegration of Egyptian graduates of German universities in Egypt. This year she became a co-founder of a German-Egyptian initiative called ‘Career Compass’, initiated by the German Alumni for mentoring young Egyptian girls for their better future. Aref calls this project, ‘’a light at the end of the tunnel. Unless we don’t provide an opportunity to women, domination of men will remain in the society with deep ideological and social roots.’’ Aref says.

On December 27, a workshop arranged by Career Compass at Al-Azhar Park in Central Cairo took place where representatives of prominent businesses met with representatives from Cairo University to take this initiative forward and establish ful-fledged mentoring programs at the Cairo University in cooperation with private companies. This cross cultural volunteer initiative is sponsored by the German Institute for International Cultural Relations (IFA) and the German foreign office. In the workshop, the Dean and Vice-Deans of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and representatives of various business communities exchanged their views. The interest from businesses and the university was reaffirmed and it is hoped that first programs will start with the next term in early 2013.

The project is designed to provide exposure to the young girls to support them in their career building and to reach leadership positions in the private sector. The first workshop of the initiative took place in mid-November in Cairo where German Alumna Dr. Ingrid Schraner trained the university staff how to set up successful mentor programs with minimum resources. In the first conference students, professors and teaching assistants also shared their struggle stories for their desired careers and reaffirmed the necessity of such programs to promote female students.

Through the ‘Career Compass’ project the group aims to use the network of German university alumni at Egyptian universities for their mentoring model. It provides a unique possibility of collaboration between the Egyptian business community and its academia.

Prof. Dr. Hala Aref who also works with the Germany Egypt Arab Region (GEAR), an International Alumni Network, says, “Career Compass will enable participating business partners to attract the best talent and it will allow the institutions support their strongest students. We discussed in today’s workshop how it can promote the young talent.”

Author: Atif Tauqeer

Editor: Manasi Gopalakrishnan


31.12.2012 | 17:40