International Women’s Month: USAID Programs at IIE

The Institute of International Education (IIE) ends this month as we began, celebrating international women and the work we are privileged to do with them. We are honored to partner with the United States government to promote international women’s education and related opportunities. Through the U.S Agency for International Development (USAID), IIE implements programs around the world that promote women’s access to education, research, and the workforce. Some highlights from USAID programs in Indonesia and Egypt are highlighted below.

  • PRESTASI: Septy Br. Tobing at the United NationsSince 2011, the PRESTASI program has provided 1,801 Indonesian professionals with academic degrees and technical training, of which 842 (47%) were women. PRESTASI scholar Septy Br. Tobing received her master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Rutgers University in December 2018. Since returning to Indonesia, Septy has resumed her work at the Ministry of Law and Human Rights- Directorate General of Corrections (DGC). There, her work has focused on drafting policies and standards for juvenile terrorist rehabilitation and reintegration programs. Her work has since gained international recognition. In June 2019, Septy was invited to the United Nations to be a speaker at the High-Level Dialogue on Preventing Radicalization in Prisons. She presented on the programs she created at the DGC and received praise about her Directorate’s work in rehabilitating over 500 terrorist offenders. In appreciation for her efforts, Septy received an award from Indonesia’s Minister of Law and Human Rights in October 2019.
  • SHERA: Through research collaboration and university partnerships, the SHERA program aims to increase the research capacity of the Indonesian higher education sector. This includes promoting access to research and professional development for women. In December 2019, one of the five SHERA Centers for Collaborative Research (CCRs) hosted an event to highlight the important role that women play in research, technology, and development. Five prominent women gathered to share their stories, challenges, and lessons as trailblazers in their respective research areas in Indonesia. Concluding the event, the CCR signed the ‘Bogor Declaration for Women Researchers 2019.’ With this declaration, the first of its kind at Bogor Agricultural Institute, 12 Indonesian institutions committed to collaborate with all affiliate universities and partners to encourage and involve women’s participation in research and innovation activities.
  • Elvi Sri Rahayu at the flower business the JAPRI program helped her establishJAPRI: Through the JAPRI program, IIE also works with vulnerable youth in Indonesia and has assisted 639 women to develop or improve a business. For example, JAPRI training taught small business owner Elvi Sri Rahayu how to effectively organize and market her business, as well as track its finances. Elvi had originally started making artificial flowers in 2017 to fill her free time, but she quickly began to expand her plans after participating in JAPRI training in 2018. Since participating in the program’s workshops and mentoring sessions, Elvi has not only grown her business, but she has also made a positive impact by hiring two women in her community. This has allowed Elvi to increase her business’s capacity, while also supporting the livelihoods of two community members and their families. As a testament to the success of the JAPRI model, JAPRI was awarded funding in July 2019 through the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative (W-GDP). This funding directly supports activities focused on young women in select business sectors in East Java. Through its implementation of W-GDP, JAPRI seeks to establish 2,000 legalized women-owned businesses.
  • LOTUS Scholarship Program: The LOTUS Scholarship Program has provided 250 Egyptian students who have demonstrated high financial need with scholarship packages to obtain degrees from Egyptian private universities. 138 scholarship recipients (55%) were women, many of which come from smaller cities and villages outside of urban areas. Some are the first women in their families to attend university. Through academic courses, leadership enrichment programs, career development opportunities and community-based service learning, students are supported throughout the period of their scholarship to help them gain practical experience and leadership skills, thereby creating a network of youth nation-wide who are well-educated and passionate about Egypt.
  • U.S.-Egypt Higher Education Initiative (HEI):Sara Ezzat Ali, Higher Education Initiative scholarship recipient Under the auspices of the Local Scholarships Program (LSP), IIE implements the HEI Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Undergraduate Scholarships program (HEI SUS). Through HEI SUS, 20 women have earned bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields from U.S universities and another 40 HEI SUS scholars will complete their STEM bachelor’s degrees in May 2020. In the first cohort of HEI SUS scholars who graduated in 2019, 15 decided to pursue master’s or PhD programs. One of those scholars, Sara Ezzat Ali, graduated Magna Cum Laude from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in May 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering. She was selected as the official undergraduate delegate for RIT’s College of Science for her excellent academic record and leadership on campus. She was also selected as a 2019 Legacy Leader by RIT’s Center for Women and Gender, an award which recognizes the most outstanding women leaders on campus. She has since returned to the U.S., where she is currently completing a fully funded PhD program at the University of Rochester. 

          Prior to HEI SUS, IIE administered HEI STEM and MBA Scholarships for Women under the Scholarships and Training for Egyptian Professionals (STEP) program, one of the five scholarship components under HEI. The STEP program sought to address the underrepresentation of women in management and to position future female leaders to play a key role in promoting economic and social development in Egypt. Under STEP, 98 Egyptian women earned Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from U.S. universities.  The STEP program ended in December 2018.