The fall of 2012 has been an exciting time for the Global Women’s Leadership Initiative (GWLI) at the Wilson Center. Though we are the Wilson Center’s newest initiative, our director and staff inspired by the leadership of Jane Harman, President and CEO of the Wilson Center have been working tirelessly to advance the goal of empowering women emerging leaders around the world.
Smith College led a Women in Public Service Project (WPSP) symposium in Paris in October in collaboration with the French Ministry of Women’s Affairs on the topic of global health issues and how women’s leadership can make a difference in this field.
Delegates from seventeen countries across francophone Africa, greater Europe, and the United States examined issues of infectious disease, domestic violence, nutrition, and gender disparities as they also built professional networks. “To lead, we must help each other,” said delegate Theresa Kim, of the University of Washington.
The United States Mission to the European Union and the Women in Public Service Project (WPSP) hosted a global conversation on “Breaking Barriers – Strategies to Succeed in Public Service” in Brussels on October 2nd, 2012. The voices of women’s leadership represented on the panel include Ambassador Anna-Karin Eneström, Sweden's Representative to the Political and Security Committee at the Permanent Mission of Sweden to the EU, Dr. Franziska Brantner EU Parliamentarian, and Susannah Wellford Shakow, Esq, Chair of the Board and founder of Running Start.
The momentum of the mentoring calls has created regional and country chapters where former delegates meet with mentors on the ground. The first in-person meeting took place in Lebanon in November. You can read the bios of the women in the mentoring session below.
On November 7, 2012, a mentoring call was held with the Women in Public Service Project (WPSP) Iraqi delegates. The conversation was moderated by WPSP Director, Rangita de Silva de Alwis, who asked each of the WPSP delegates to provide an update of their work since their time at WPSP’s Wellesley Institute. There were many new successes and accomplishments for the women on the call.
Many of the delegates who participated in our 2012 Women in Public Service Project (WPSP) Institutes in Washington D.C. (pilot program) and Wellesley College are vitally engaged in transitional justice processes in their countries. On our second mentoring conference call, we were able to learn about their current endeavors.
Our inaugural mentoring conference call with Burmese women activists was led by the Women in Public Service Project (WPSP) delegate, Soe Win. The 15 Burmese women who were on the phone with us, mostly from the ethnic states and rural regions, gathered together at an internet café for the Skype conversation.
Two-way and peer- to-peer mentoring is at the heart of the Women in Public Service Project (WPSP) at the Global Women’s Leadership Initiative (GWLI) and an important cornerstone for the sustainability of the GWLI. Our transnational mentoring program ensures that our Institutes and initiatives endure long after participants return to their communities and countries. Our continuing conversations and strategic mentoring carefully match participants with transnational mentors based on region and professional background.
During the United Nations General Assembly, at a high-level meeting convened by UN Women, the government of South Africa, and the government of Finland, several countries pledged to strengthen the Rule of Law for women by broadening access to justice for women.
On September 24, 2012, against the backdrop of the 67th meeting of the UN General Assembly as world leaders gathered together, the Women in Public Service Project (WPSP) partnered with Barnard College and our other partner colleges to create an alternative forum to discuss some of the challenges of our times.