Mauritius: A woman makes the world go round

Mauritius: A woman makes the world go round

Date: January 8, 2022
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“Believing in oneself makes one powerful and you should also believe that you can make a difference.”

Her Excellency, Dr Alya’a Samir Borhan is the Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt to Mauritius since November 2020. She strongly believes that having an enabler when growing up is important. Owing to her father’s experience as a diplomat, she considers herself a citizen of the world. She is able to adapt very easily and is not homesick. Despite being in Mauritius for only about a year, she feels both Mauritian as well as Egyptian! She believes that one needs to be accepting of oneself and others and make the best of every situation by being flexible and constantly working on making oneself better.

Dr Borhan holds a PhD in Economics from the Jawaharlal Nehru University in India, an MPhil in Economic Development from Glasgow University and an MA in Middle East Studies from the American University in Cairo and a BA in Economics. She has extensive work experience in the Egyptian Embassy in Norway, Brussels and Malaysia. She also worked in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Egypt and also previously as a commercial attaché in the Ministry of Trade as well as an economic researcher at the Ministry of International Cooperation.

Her Excellency’s first encounter with Gender Links occurred when she met Ms. Anushka Virahsawmy, Country Director of Gender Links Mauritius, at a function in December 2020. Since then, she has become very good friends and considers Virahsawmy as a sister. She actively supports Virahsawmy in her work especially in relation to Safe Haven Halfway Home (SHHH).

Dr Borhan mentioned the difficulties she faced as an outspoken woman coming from a Middle Eastern country. She asserted that we only live once and should do so to our full potential and she also stresses the idea of being well-rounded.  She further stated that the amount of stress that a woman undertakes is enormous as compared to man as a woman has to juggle her job, her household and her children. Nevertheless, the stress should be productive as women try their best to overcome all challenges and emerge out of situations with knowledge, experience and adaptability.

Dr Borhan recalled how she received opposition from her father and husband when she was first posted in Norway. She put her foot down though and began her professional pathway. Following suit, many ladies were inspired and decided to kick start their career.  While learning from other people’s experiences, she also trained and mentored the younger generation of women such that they avoid making the same mistakes. Her mantra at work is never accepting that anyone can underestimate her, discount her contributions or silence her voice.  Dr Borhan embodies a strong female role model who does not compromise on her principles. She ensured that when she became an ambassador, she led by example and was tolerant of the issues that her staff face. Furthermore, she strives to constantly be a team player as well as a good leader and is accepting of others in her team.

In terms of her future plans, Dr Borhan has three main objectives: to raise awareness about the culture of Egypt, conduct outreach activities in Mauritius as well as deepen trade relationships between Mauritius and Egypt. She aims to leave a legacy and give a message of diversity and tolerance as Ambassador of Egypt in Mauritius. It remains a privilege for her to serve in a country like Mauritius which is diverse, multiethnic and tolerant of everyone’s religious beliefs. She recently organized a drawing competition on the theme ‘Egypt in the eyes of Mauritians’. She was amazed by the overwhelmingly creative responses received and she even had to invent new categories for the prizes.  She also organized an event in collaboration with the Council of Religions of Mauritius about the importance of water from environmental, political and spiritual aspects.  Dr. Borhan also organized an event about making Arabic a tool for the Economic Recovery of the Tourism Sector in Mauritius; which was targeting the Arabic teachers in Mauritius. This event was organized in coordination with the Ministries of Arts and Culture and Education, Tertiary Education, Science and Technology. Dr Borhan remains an ambassador for the people and she aims at winning the hearts and minds of people that she encounters. Indeed, she is also proud to be one of the patrons for the ‘Capav Dance Academy’, an NGO which works with underprivileged kids in the town of Curepipe and teaches them dance via a fusion of Egyptian and Mauritian songs. It is a rewarding experience to work with children and Dr. Borhan believes that she now has many children in Mauritius! Lastly, being an economist who is passionate about trade, she is working to bring more good quality Egyptian products at competitive prices to the Mauritian market.

Dr Borhan is determined to work hard, seize every opportunity and leave a legacy wherever she goes!

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