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.
President Tarja Halonen, the former President of Finland and Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders; Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, the Prime Minister of Thailand and the first woman to lead her country; and President Atifete Jahjaga, President of Kosovo, all spoke of their journeys to leadership and the lessons they could share with an emerging generation of women leaders.
Deborah Spar, President of Barnard College, moderated a conversation with Honorable Jane Harman, the Director, President, and CEO of the Wilson Center; Marta Santos Pais, UN Special Representative for Violence against Children; and Farah Pandith, U.S. Special Representative for Muslim Communities. This was followed by a special panel discussion between student representatives from the 8 WPSP partner colleges (Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mills, Mt. Holyoke, Mount St. Mary’s, Scripps, Smith, and Wellesley) with the leaders in public service moderated by Dr. Rangita de Silva de Alwis, Director of the GWLI. From development challenges, such as access to water in post conflict situations, to family law reform as part of transitional justice to the reform of the criminal justice system in California, students pressed these leaders for solutions to some of the world’s most critical challenges.