AWiB Presents HER Gems Recap

As Thursday, July 4th, came close to an end, AWiBers and guests stormed through the gates of Hilton to get a taste of what this monthly gathering offers. As the number of attendants grew, the warmth of the intentional networking can be felt by anyone observing the scenery.

As the attendants took their seats, the program unfolded with an invigorating introduction by Lidya Yohannes, AWiB’s Membership Programs Manager. She invited the representative of the event’s Co-Partner – RERE Project Developer PLC. The presentation by RERE highlighted the quality of their locally produced SPC flooring, known for its insulation, soundproofing qualities, and reusability. The evening sponsors: Chapa Financial Technologies, Enat Bank, & MultiChoice Ethiopia as well as members who showcased their products and services came to the stage for brief presentations.

The moderator – Tirunesh Teferra, AWiB 2024 Board took the stage framing the evening’s discussion. She unpacked the topic “AWiB Presents HER Gems” and shared short profiles of AWiB’s Gems: Egziharya Meshesha, AWiB 2024 President-Elect; Ajebework Ali, Corporate Center Manager at Dashen Bank & AWiB 2024 Board member; and Hanan Ahmed, CEO of Han’s with Care.

Who is Egziharya Meshesha?

Egziharya dived into their story by sharing her childhood experiences surrounded by a large, closely knit family whose women members possessed incredible power and influence. This matriarchal environment shaped her early understanding of leadership and strength. However, her college experience where men play a leadership role while women strive to adhere to social expectations added a contrast to her perception.

Egziharya acknowledges that one of her qualities is deep listening and through relating to people’s stories, she adds on to her wisdom bank. She gains different perspectives on how to tackle challenges and develop strategies and ways to develop her desired outlook in life. She can also quickly adapt to change with an eagerness to learn new things.

The major challenge she felt was being undermined because of her youthful appearance. A notable personal triumph in her youth was her decision to drop out of college, despite how society views “Dropouts”. She was simply not interested in the field of study she was assigned to, so she listened to her gut, going forward to studying one she is truly passionate about successfully. Going through that, she relied upon herself for support, as her family was against her decision. She graduated with the highest grade.

Egzihariya now serves her community as a project manager and digital marketer in her areas of passion – Mental Health, Women & Children. She also serves AWiB 2024 Board as the president-elect. 

Who is Ajebework Ali?

Ajebework Ali was the next one to share her remarkable story. Her transformation from working in the Ministry of Agriculture to becoming a leader in the Corporate Banking sector is a story of overcoming personal and professional challenges, driven by a relentless pursuit of education and a passion for helping others.

Ajebework sacrificed a lot for her education with her mother, her biggest cheerleader. Ajebework’s career began at the Ministry of Agriculture in Dessie, where she was assigned after completing her studies. Her tenure at the Ministry coincided with a significant government change, which deeply affected her life. Soon after having her son, Ajebework’s husband needed to flee to Eritrea due to the political turmoil at the time. That period marked a turning point in her life. Ajebework soon secured a position at Dashen Bank and moved to Addis Ababa where she fulfilled her pursuit of a university education, which she pursued until getting her master’s degree. 

Ajebework credits her mother’s resilience and sense of fairness in managing their household while raising nine children instilled in her the strength, perseverance, and integrity that contributed immensely to her success. Her mother consistently added building blocks to Ajebework’s self-esteem by acknowledging and praising her leadership capabilities. Ajebework also underlined that her family dynamics as she came from parents with different cultural and religious backgrounds played a significant role in shaping her outlook in life.

Ajebework continued to share the significant challenge she overcame – not voicing her achievements and demanding a place she rightfully deserves. She was able to face this issue that was hindering her growth and overcome it through the support of the AWiB community she joined through Dashen Bank. She acknowledged that AWiB played a huge role in bringing out her voice by unpacking her skills and pushing her to practice them. Ajebework shared her journey from being comfortable with never being credited for her work to claiming her power of influence, negotiation, and strong dedication to supporting her community.

Ajebework currently serves Dashen Bank as a Corporate Center Manager and AWiB as a 2024 board member. In addition to her role as a mentor in AWiB’s Meri Mentorship Program, Ajebework mentors young women at every opportunity. As a leader, she expressed her determination to continuously inspire and uplift families, women, and children by guiding them toward living an ethical life.

Who is Hanan Ahmed?

Hanan Ahmed took on the mic, sharing her story that led her to become an advocate for women’s health. She is the founder and CEO of Han’s with Care – an organization that provides sanitary pads and dignity kits for women, girls, and the elderly across communities throughout Ethiopia.

As a young girl, Hanan experienced heavy bleeding during her menstruation. Her concern about her parent’s financial constraints led her to refrain from asking her mother for more sanitary pads. This meant she was not able to change her pads as frequently as needed. She expressed how this placed her in embarrassing social scenarios at school and led her to contract infection. Since periods are taboo topics to raise in this culture, she went through her physical and emotional pain in silence. Hanan courageously shared how this long untreated infection led to her multiple miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, and surgical removal of one of her fallopian tubes. Doctors informed her that she had no hope of having a baby, but Hanan had already named her daughter – Iman. Her dream – Iman lives today as a testament to her unwavering faith.

Hanan worked as a flight attendant before joining the design industry, making a brand that serves overlooked community members. Determined to prevent others from facing the issues that impacted her life, she began producing reusable pads. As she went on exploring this area, she found that there was an incredible demand in our community. Women, girls, and the elderly whose dreams and aspirations for tomorrow are limited for the mere fact that they are unable to control the physical outflows that nature calls for. Han’s with Care produces reusable pads that last up to eighteen months, but only serves a very limited share of the overwhelming demand for sustainable and affordable products.

Hanan expressed that her passion lies in giving service. From serving guests in her home to designing transparent masks for hearing-impaired members of our community, Hanan dedicates her life to serving her community. She stresses that giving service to others is equivalent to serving oneself, a philosophy underpinning her work at Han’s with Care.

Finally, Turunesh opened the stage for reflections and Q&A. Through the reflections and questions raised, the inspiration that was ignited by the stories of these phenomenal women, was tangible. As AWiB’s tradition goes, the moderator presented gifts to the speakers and the evening ended.

The AWiB Team

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