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The MEPI Alumni Network Supports Rural Women in the Middle East and North Africa
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The MEPI Alumni Network Supports Rural Women in the Middle East and North Africa

November 13, 2012
MEPI alumni help pick olives in the West Bank

MEPI alumni from seven countries and territories in the Middle East and North Africa engaged in a variety of activities to mark the International Day of Rural Women on October 15. Alumni successfully coordinated a total of 13 events between October 12 and October 21 to support rural women, particularly entrepreneurs, artisans, and farmers. Over 750 MEPI and other State Department alumni, as well as local community activists and leaders, volunteered to support thousands of women seeking greater opportunities and additional income for their families.

In the West Bank and Gaza, for example, MEPI alumni conducted a campaign to raise awareness about Palestinian women entrepreneurs. More than 300 MEPI and other State Department alumni volunteered to pick olives with rural families while rural women prepared and showcased olive-based products.

According to Mary Sayej, a MEPI alumna who volunteered at the event: “Empowering rural women means helping rural families who depend heavily on the harvest to make a year-long income, and this made me feel more involved in my community.”

MEPI alumni volunteers in Jordan organized a festival to raise awareness about rural women and promote their products. More than 40 rural women’s associations from across Jordan participated, and over 500 people visited the festival.  Princess Sharifa Zein from the Jordanian royal family opened the Amman event.

Ilham Abbadi, a MEPI alumna who volunteered at the event commented on her experience: “This was a great initiative that reflected the true meaning of volunteerism. We are proud to support rural women who are the main producers of traditional goods in Jordan.”

These activities mark the first annual region-wide Alumni Day of Service for MEPI’s Alumni Network. The network supports civil society activists and reformers, empowering women and youth and fostering economic opportunity through trainings, networking events, skill-building activities, and volunteerism.