G4G (Girls for Girls) continues to shape the road towards a more empowering present, and future for girls and women through its aim of having a reading culture was kindly hosted by the World Health Organization at the United Nations of the State of Kuwait on June 7th, 2022.

Dr. Emily Ghoshe, a Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from Princeton University, is a senior mentor in the program, formed the Kuwait G4G book club, and led its first discussion. The roundtable was co-hosted by Dr. Assad Hafeez of the WHO, who discussed with Girls4Girls members the white paper by Foreign Policy on the impact women empowerment has on World Peace, and how the best predictor of a state’s stability is how its women are treated.

Mercedes Vazquez, Territory Channel Manager at Microsoft Kuwait, G4G alums & volunteer, shared her experience: “We got to learn from each other within a diverse yet inclusive group. I was particularly impressed by Her Excellency Belinda Lewis’s insights on courageous leadership, getting rid of the imposter syndrome, and the necessity of shattering the glass ceiling in male-dominated environments.

I would highly recommend this program to everyone. Moreover, empowering women is good for the country’s GDP. I want to thank Nabila for bringing this initiative to Kuwait. She added that gender equality is for the greater common good and essential to economic prosperity and diversification. Adding that, she looks forward to how gender equality will transpire within a digital environment with frameworks like ResponsibleAI and AIforGood.

The Girls for Girls initiative within the Women’s Cultural & Social Society

A relatively new program, Girls for Girls, was born at the Harvard Kennedy School in 2017 when a group of women graduates from across the globe recognized that something is holding women back from running for public office in every corner of the world.

The program was brought to Kuwait by its Country Lead -Ms. Nabila Abu Hantash – She launched it under the umbrella of the Women’s Cultural and Social Society, the oldest women-centric NGO in Kuwait, formed in 1963. This synergetic partnership added credibility and provided the necessary resources to promote G4G’s exceptional deliverables.

In 2020, Nabila Abu-Hantash, Harvard alumni and a colleague of the Co-founders, took it upon herself to introduce this project to Kuwait as a civic initiative. She is a finance and investment banking professional with 30 years of experience in commercial and investment banking, business development, customer relationship management, and community relations. She has an MBA – in Finance from George Washington University, an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, accreditation in Leadership, Management, and Decision Sciences from Harvard, and Decision sciences from MIT.

Further, she is a Rapid Transformational Therapist. She worked in various leadership and technical roles in the National Bank of Kuwait, Al-Shall Investment and Consulting, Kuwait Authority for Partnerships Projects, and Al-Argan International Real Estate, amongst others in Corporate Kuwait.

Ms. Abu Hantash explained the nature of the program “as a modest, informal mentoring platform with rich content drawn from Harvard, that allows participants to access skill-based tools, including virtual lessons on topics like courageous leadership, effective communication, negotiation, running for office, and ethics and values in decision making. The girl mentees benefit not only from curated content but from experienced mentors and local guest speakers who share their experiences and stories. The program is designed for listening and sharing so that women learn from each other by activating and transmitting a rich supportive community” In leading this effort, she feels the need for more quality career-based training and is working diligently to expand the local offering to include deeper dive in negotiations and communications and career mental health.

The program underwent several success milestones within the last 16 months since its inception. It became entrenched as a flagship program within the Woman’s Society, gained the sponsorship of the National Bank of Kuwait; hosted incredible female and male leaders such as Ms. Sara Akbar of the oil and gas sector, Judge Lulwa Alghanim representing the first group of female judges; Engineer Khaled AlMashan CEO of Al-Aragan Real Estate company, Dr. Samiya AlMusallam the previous Family Medicine Program Director as well as her excellency Ms. Linda Lewis the British Ambassador to Kuwait, amongst many other esteemed guests. Her excellency shared with the mentees the importance of not burning bridges, getting rid of the imposter syndrome, and not treating everything as gender-based. Through in-person discussions, mentees shared the stories of female leaders to gain models’ inspiration and benefit from ever-widening peer-to-peer networks.

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