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WIT Connections Summer 2010 Newsletter
Dear Friends,

WIT has established women's computer and entrepreneurship training centers at more than 60 women's organizations in nine countries, thanks to continued support and investment from the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) and Microsoft!

The centers, operated on a sustainable business model, help our partners expand their reach and ability to serve women and girls. As of June 2010, more than 9,000 women have been trained including survivors of gender based violence, disabled, widowed and other marginalized women. Over the next six months, our main focus is to provide all WIT partners with the resources and support necessary to achieve full sustainability for their training centers. It is our hope that partners will continue to offer WIT and other training to women in their communities for many years to come.


Heather Ramsey, Director
Women in Technology, IIE
West Coast Center, San Francisco

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Bahrain, Oman, and Saudi Arabia
Partner of the Quarter:
Desert Islands Education Centre, UAE

Empowered Woman of the Quarter:
Entrepreneurs, Morocco
Winning Business Plans in Jordan
Winners of the WIT Jordan Business Plan competition were recognized at an award ceremony in May attended by VIPs from of the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Social Development, the Family Protection Department of the Public Security Directorate and IRADA, an organization that supports emerging entrepreneurs. WIT Jordan's Program Manager, Ms. Tarawneh states, "The winners were exhilarated. It boosted their self-esteem as for most of them this was their first experience in entering a contest and actually winning!" Winning business plans include sewing projects, a children's nursery, a dairy production unit and businesses focused on cosmetics and plants.

"Most lending entities have rigid financial requirements that make it challenging for women to acquire loans," explains Ms. Tarawneh. "The WIT Entrepreneurship competition was born to address this need. WIT's Entrepreneurship training gives these women fundamental tools to start their businesses and introduces them to aspects of managing a business."

WIT Lebanon Women Engage in Local Politics
Men have long dominated the political arena in Lebanon. However, over the last few years a growing number of women are taking up the call to engage in politics. The desire to help shape Lebanon's future, coupled with an eagerness to bring women's voices to political platforms, has lead to an increasing number of female candidates in nation-wide elections. Throughout Lebanon, WIT participants are engaging in local politics and assuming local leadership roles.

Ms. Dunia Khoury, a WIT alumna and well known leader in her village of Deir El Amar, ran for a town council position. Ms. Khoury supports women's participation in politics, encouraging them to take key leadership roles in their communities through WIT's partner, the Women's Association of Deir El Ahmar.

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Blazing the Trail for Women Bloggers in Yemen
On March 17th 2010, WIT Yemen celebrated the first ever blogging competition for women in Yemen. Three winners were chosen from among 36 submissions. The entrants, comprised of current and former WIT participants, embrace blogging with unmatched enthusiasm and are eager to continue sharing their thoughts with the world. This is especially significant since blogging is still a relatively new tool and often considered taboo for women in the MENA region; particularly in Yemen.

The Women in Technology (WIT) program launched the blogging competition in November 2009 for WIT participants from five different regions around Yemen - Sana'a, Taiz, Hodidah, Yareem and Hadramout. Three winning blogs were selected by the judges on the basis of content, layout and overall quality. The winners were announced at the award ceremony and the excited women received new cell phones from the competition's sponsor, Mobile Telephone Network (MTN), a GSM company. The event was held at WIT's lead partner organization, Society for the Development of Women and Children (SOUL) in Sana'a. Among those in attendance were representatives from the Ministry of Youth, Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor and the Middle East Partnership Initiative.

WIT Trainer in Iraq Conducts Thought Provoking Interviews about Iraqi Elections
Hayder is a trainer for the WIT Program at Iraqi Al Amal Association in Baghdad and an active citizen journalist and blogger. This article highlights some of the interviews he conducted around the recent Iraqi parliamentary elections for BBC and Al Jazeera.

The Iraqi people displayed optimism and hope for a better future when discussing the parliamentary elections in Iraq in March 2010. Mr. Hayder conducted interviews with participants of different ages, genders and backgrounds to determine the willingness of Iraqis to participate in the elections and examine their perspectives of the democratic voting process.

Many of the interviewees expressed their willingness to vote, explaining that it is an important step towards change for their country. They are hopeful for a better Iraq and trust that this change will happen after the elections. "We need peace, security, and employment, but peace is our fundamental request," said an Iraqi man who was interviewed by Hayder.

WIT Bahrain, Oman and Saudi Arabia move towards full Sustainability and Independence!
IIE is thrilled that our partners the Omani Women's Association (OWA), the Bahrain Women's Union (BWU) and Effat University (Saudi Arabia) are fully taking the reigns of WIT going forward. While we at IIE are sad to end our day to day involvement with our partners, we are proud of the amazing work being done in each country to continue to offer WIT trainings to women. Through the dedication and hard work of its partners, WIT will continue to reach many more women in Bahrain, Oman and Saudi Arabia. Please click on 'Read More' for highlights from each country.

Please feel free to contact us for more information. We look forward to hearing your opinions and suggestions.
Ms. Heather Ramsey, Director, Global Partnerships
Institute of International Education, West Coast Center
San Francisco, USA
Tel: +1 415-362-6520 | Fax: +1 415-392-4667
Email: witmena@iie.org
Web: www.witmena.org | www.iie.org | www.iiesf.org
Women in Technology (WIT) for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region is funded by the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) of the U.S. Department of State, managed by the Institute of International Education (IIE) West Coast Center and implemented in collaboration with Microsoft and local partners in six countries: Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, UAE and Yemen. WIT is also operating independently in Bahrain, Oman and Saudi Arabia.


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