The AWLI – Where Life-Long Lessons Were Engraved on My Heart

Yet again, Akina Mama wa Afrika with great pleasure shares with you the leadership journey of another distinguished alumna of the African Women Leadership Institute (AWLI), Ms. Khadija Dorra Esseghairi. Her passion and contribution towards the promotion of gender equality in Africa, truly demonstrates the power in transforming individuals for greater impact. Meet March’s alumna of the month!

Kindly tell us about yourself and your work

I am a Tunisian currently based in Germany with a Bachelors Degree in Finance and Management and a Masters in Renewable Energy and Environment with an award of the Chevening Scholarship.

I have five years of experience in private sector, development agencies and investment funds having worked in the UK, Tunisia and Germany.

I am a traveler and have traveled to many destinations including Ghana, Ethiopia, Egypt, India and the USA. I am currently a freelance consultant in energy policy and finance covering the Middle East and North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.

What is your strongest personal quality? If you were an animal, what would you be?

I am a very committed person, if I am involved in something, I give it 100% of myself.

I think I would be a bird. Wings gives me the freedom to be the independent person I am.

Who are the trailblazing women you have always looked up to throughout your leadership journey?

I think every woman is a leader on her own, be it a housewife, a mother, a CEO of a company. I generally do not look up to famous people because it is sometimes the closest people in your own environment, as simple they are, who make a difference in your life.

What birthed your passion for feminist leadership?

My interest in civil society and my involvement in the Tunisian NGO Women For Sustainable Development opened my eyes to feminist leadership and to the role of women in social, economic and political development.

The history of my country and the difference between women’s status in Tunisia compared to other countries around the world particularly women in countries that share the same language and religion have allowed me to be more devoted to developing my feminist leadership journey.

Why was the African Women Leadership Institute (AWLI) appealing for you to be part of as a leader? Did the Institute live up to these expectations?

The AWLI was a gathering of women leaders in Africa and therefore a unique setting to be able to learn from different women leaders and their experiences.

Yes, I was able to interact with sisters at the AWLI who impacted me with lessons and skills that have been my go to in advocating for gender equality.

What has your biggest achievement following the AWLI training you attended been?

Thanks to the AWLI, I had the opportunity to be recognized by different international institutions that are active in civil society and human rights. I spent six weeks in India learning about managing Non Profit Organizations and then went to the USA to be part of the UNESCO Human Rights Institute in the USA, during which I attended the Youth Forum in UN. These experiences have made me a more mature and stronger woman and I have gained respect and appreciation from my colleagues throughout my career.

Tell us about your AWLI experience: your interaction with faculty, who they were and how exactly they impacted your journey during the AWLI and beyond.

I truly think that all the mentors and the participants were such an inspiration and motivation. Each woman had her own story and personality that I will carry with me for life. Many women came a long way with difficult pasts that they have overcome with strength and commitment and that in itself was a strong impact.

Would you encourage young women and men out there to pursue the AWLI? Why?

Absolutely, it is a unique experience from which young women and men will learn a lot, get out of their comfort zone and get to interact with incredible leaders and work towards advancing the transformation we want to see in the world.

What adversities have you faced during your journey, how have you conquered them?

Adversities and difficulties, we face every day, I conquer them with positive attitude and hard work. I prove to myself, before proving it to others, that I am a strong, intelligent and capable woman.

The work we do is usually challenging and draining at the same time; what do you to renew your energies?

I always try to look at the bright side of challenges and how much I can learn from them and learn about myself. It is only in hard times that you discover what you are capable of and what you are able to achieve. I try to pull myself together and perceive a better future and that is what keeps me going.

Any future plans for the African Woman as far as enjoying her rights is concerned?

Yes. I am determined to continue leading by example to keep promoting African women rights and support women activism in all possible ways. I will continue inspiring other women around me be it in my everyday job and life, social media or in international forums. Currently, there is the controversy in equal heritage in Tunisia and I promote this particularly through social media and field activism

The future is definitely brighter because many African women leaders are working hard to make the world a better place for the next generations.

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