Intercultural Understanding and Exchange Programs

The Professional Fellows Program between Egypt, Tunisia, and the U.S.
Theme: Economic Empowerment of Women 
funded by
US Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs 


Funded by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, this program seeks applicants for a two-way exchange program that will focus on studying the economic empowerment of women. The program aims to strengthen the leadership capacity and professional skills of mid-level professionals from Egypt and Tunisia engaged with non-governmental, private or governmental organizations and institutions dedicated to promoting the economic empowerment of women and build bridges between similar organizations and professionals in the US. Selected participants will take part in a US-based exchange program from October 11, 2014 through November 8, 2014, where they will be placed in fellowships with civil society and governmental organizations. They will also attend the three-day Professional Fellows Congress in Washington, DC, where they will be able to meet fellow participants from around the world. After the completion of the US-based program, participants will continue their involvement with an exchange program in Egypt and Tunisia in winter 2015, when they and their organizations will work with American exchange participants to build on activities conducted and continue collaborating on initiatives begun during the US program.

HANDS invites qualified professionals from Egypt and Tunisia either currently working to or in the position to promote the economic empowerment of women to apply. This includes professionals in non-governmental, governmental, academic or private institutions, as well as female business owners.

During the US-based exchange, selected applicants will participate in:

  • Fellowship posts with a counterpart organization in the US, in order to collaborate with American colleagues and learn about their areas of activity;
  • Visits and networking opportunities with relevant organizations and institutions;
  • The Professional Fellows Congress in Washington, DC at the end of the fellowship, which will provide opportunities to meet other Professional Fellows Program participants sponsored by the US Department of State, and network with potential partners and counterpart institutions and individuals;
  • Cultural experiences that will build positive relationships between Egyptians, Tunisians and Americans, including opportunities for sightseeing and touring.

All travel, accommodation, and food costs for participants will be covered by the program, as well as local transportation costs and fees for educational and cultural visits. The program will also provide participants with health insurance and a J-1 visa to travel to the US.

Program Schedule
October 11 – November 2, 2014: Exchange program
November 5 – 7, 2014: Professional Fellows Congress in Washington, DC
Winter 2015: Exchange programs in Egypt and Tunisia*

Eligibility Criteria 
This program aims to strengthen the leadership capacity and skills of mid-level professionals from Tunisia and Egypt who are working to promote the economic empowerment of women in their societies. As such, we seek candidates who have the potential to or are currently promoting activities advancing the inclusion and economic empowerment of women, or candidates who are female business owners. Candidates should be those who would benefit in a professional capacity from an extended fellowship with a relevant American nonprofit, educational or government organization working on similar issues or in a similar capacity.

Applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Age: Applicants must be between the ages of 25 and 40.
  • Education: Candidates should have completed university level education.
  • English language: English proficiency is mandatory. Participants should have very strong English reading, writing and speaking skills. The application and interview will be in English and applicants’ language ability will be assessed accordingly.
  • Professional experience: Prospective participants should have at least three years of demonstrated involvement with activities promoting the economic empowerment of women in their societies, as well as an interest in employing new mechanisms to advance such work, or female business owners.
  • Dedication to sound plans for the future: Candidates must demonstrate long-term thoughtfulness about the inclusion and participation of women in their societies. The application will ask candidates to submit an essay showing their understanding of the importance of the economic empowerment of women, their own plans for addressing this issue after the exchange and an awareness of the current challenges of promoting such activities, as well as the replicable successes already achieved in their home country.
  • Long-term commitment to the program that extends beyond the official end-date.
  • Recommendations: Applicants must supply two letters of recommendation.
  • Passport: Applicants must possess a valid passport for travel with an expiration date that does not fall before the dates of required travel.

The deadline to apply has been extended until May 30, 2014, however, applications will be accepted on a rolling basis and applicants are strongly encouraged to apply early.

Interested candidates can download the application form from HANDS’ website at

Tunisian applicants can also download the application from the website of the Center of Arab Women for Training and Research:

HANDS is a US-based non-governmental organization dedicated to building bridges of partnership and cooperation between America and the Middle East. For more information about HANDS, please visit our website at
*Planned for mid-January or early February 2015, however exact date to be confirmed

For additional questions please contact:
In Egypt: Ms. Sara Nagy at (2) 2622 1425/6/7/8
In Tunisia: Anna Selma at or 00216-71-791 597
HANDS office: Julia C. Hurley at

Get Involved

Application form for Egypt (click to download Word document)

Application form for Tunisia (click to download Word document)

To hear experiences from previous participants in Professional Follows exchanges, you can watch the following video on YouTube: