Who is Heba Assem?
I am an Egyptian youth activist, researcher in African studies and a trainer of leadership skills. I am also working as a Steering Committee member at World Youth Forum, a volunteer at the African Union Youth Volunteer Corps and a trainer of the first batch of African Presidential Leadership Program APLP at the National Training Academy in Egypt.
I participated in many activities with fellows from all over Africa; most of them were about simulation models, which allows them to know how to be a decision maker and a leader in their community. I am also a trainee of the Presidential Leadership Program in Egypt through which I could gain experience in policy analysis, governance studies and peace and security. I have also a good experience of organizing events, as I am one of the organizing committee members of the National Youth Conferences in Egypt.
Tell us a little about your background and how you came to be a youth activist and trainer.
I graduated from Faculty of Arts Spanish language & Literature, Cairo University. Once I finished my studies, I started participating in students’ activities at the university because I don’t have the opportunity to do this during my studies.
I found the simulation models so attractive and I was keen to attend them, the beginning was with the African Union simulation Model in Cairo University I was a delegate, I met so many active youth from all over Africa. I felt that there is another part of the world I don’t know anything about and I found myself eager to know more about and explore it more.
Since then, I dedicated all my efforts to know more about Africa and to connect with my fellows from all over Africa. I just felt that Africa is the homeland where I belong and I have to serve. That’s why I did my postgraduate diplomas about International negotiations and Crisis and Conflicts management in Africa besides so many courses in political analysis and peace and security issues.
And during the Crisis of COVID–19, I started to give online lectures of leadership to benefit my young African fellows on a voluntary basis. I am now a lecturer at several African online leadership schools and institutions.
What does the organization do?
As for World Youth Forum, it is an international event held annually in Egypt to gather youth from all around the world to discuss and share thoughts about the recent hot issues in the world.
But as I told you I am working for many organizations and institutions, all of them are serving a common goal, which is making the world a better place specially Mama Africa. These organizations invest in the African human capital, trying to build the African youth capacity, give them the right direction to focus their energy and benefit their communities.
What would you consider as your most significant accomplishment so far?
Winning the Young African Leaders Award for Visionary Leadership last year in The Gambia from African Youth Architects. It means a lot to me, you know when your work is being recognized on a continental level, it makes different. I felt that I have to go extra mile in serving the African continent to earn this award. Such a motivation always renews my energy and charge my power to do the best for African Youth.
The idea of honoring young people for their efforts itself is a motivation for other youth to keep working hard because one day it’s going to be their turn, also the organization’s itself African Youth Architects is a young organization all its members are young leaders which support the idea of the effective collaboration and integration between youth all over Africa.
I represented my country Egypt and the Northern Africa region which is a huge honor I can’t Express how much grateful I am to my country for supporting youth and giving them the chance to achieve their dreams.
Have you experienced any challenges running this domain as a woman?
Being a woman in our communities sometimes is a challenge itself, especially if you are an ambitious woman; all the eyes are looking at you and waiting for you to fail. I know women now are taking more privileges than before but on the community level some people have this perspective of women which is only to get married and raise the children up which is a noble role of course, but what really annoys me is to limit the women’s role and potential only in getting married. I don’t see any contradictions between being a great mom or wife and being an effective leader in her community at the same time. This is how we as women can be idols for our children and support them in their future steps.
However, for me, I think I am blessed with my family and my friends. They have faith in me at times more than I have, keep supporting me and I can’t let them down.
What’s next for you?
As I mentioned earlier, I am a volunteer with the African Union Youth Volunteer Corps, and I am waiting for my deployment for 12 months in a different African country to serve there. I hope that I get deployed soon and start another chapter of my adventure in Africa.
Also, I am planning to have a master’s degree in African Studies, because it’s so important to have the academic experience and apply it on the ground.
Besides that, I am open for any opportunity through which I can serve Africa and fulfill my dream.
Any advice for Women who would want to pursue this kind of venture?
Don’t let anyone to make u feel less advantaged for being a woman, you have the potential and you deserve all the respect and support. Keep trying and have faith in yourself and your capabilities. Don’t underestimate yourself no matter how many times u fall down, failure itself isn’t wrong, just keep trying and believe that you are able to reach whatever you are dreaming of. Support women in your community; provide them the opportunity to prove themselves. Always remember is helping people makes is the key of any success.
How can well-wishers contact you?