Mills College WPSP

Mills College: “Women, Water, and the World: How Women Can Solve the Earth’s Water Crisis”

Time and Place

Mills College, Oakland, CA

Event Details

Mills College in Oakland, California, hosted a ten-day institute for emerging women leaders from around the world from April 11—April 20, 2015, in partnership with the U.S. State Department and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Founded in 2011, the Women in Public Service Project (WPSP) is focused primarily on training early- to mid-career women from around the world to advance their careers in government and public service as they move their nations forward socially, politically, and economically. The Project’s goal is to have 50% of public service leadership positions around the world held by women by the year 2050.

The WPSP Institute at Mills College focused on Women, Water, and the World: How Women Can Solve the Earth’s Water Crisis. Institute participants were drawn from around the globe with an emphasis on working to re-build their communities, expanding their public service orientation, and promoting sustainable economic livelihoods. How women use water, share knowledge, and promote sound management and conservation of water are key issues for our planet’s future and critical issues for women in public service. Access to water has enormous relevance to women’s lives and was elevated as a human rights and critical policy issue by the United Nations in 2010, where it was acknowledged that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realization of all human rights.

Distinguished speakers at the opening ceremony included remarks given by Mills College President, Alecia A. DeCoudreaux; CFR Adjunt Senior Fellow and Former Special Representative to Muslim Communities, Farah Panfith; Founder of Craigslist, Craig Newmark; Executive Director of the Global Women's Water Initiative, Gemma Bulos; Mills alumna ('99) Daljit Baines; and Keynote speaker Kristen Hetle, Director of Strategic Partnerships at UN Women.

The Institute convened conversations, created opportunities to exchange experience and knowledge, and launched partnerships to educate and train a new generation of women to enter the public sector with the strategic leadership skills, energy, and commitment required to tackle one of today’s most significant global challenges.

Delegates participating in group work regarding WASH issues
Delegates participating in group work regarding WASH issues

Women, Water, and the World provided emerging women leaders with the concrete tools and training necessary to increase the scope, efficacy, and visibility of their work. Invited scholars, policymakers, and government and non-government representatives aided delegates in expanding their leadership and communication skills, developing effective use of traditional and social media, and improving their ability to build national, regional, and international networks. The Institute also provided a forum for shared learning and dialogue; exchange of experiences and expertise and peer-to-peer mentoring and networking; as well as built an important platform for cross-fertilization of knowledge and innovative leadership skills.

Delegates working on networking exercises led by social media specialist Beth Kanter
Delegates working on networking exercises led by social media specialist Beth Kanter

The 2015 Institute took place on the 135 acre campus of Mills College, located in Oakland, California, in the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area. Mills is a nationally renowned independent liberal arts college for women with graduate programs for women and men. Since 1852, Mills has been empowering students to become creative, independent thinkers who take and inspire action.

The College educates students to think critically and communicate responsibly and effectively, to accept the challenges of their creative visions, and to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to effect thoughtful changes in a global, multicultural society.

As part of the Institute, field trips included visits to elected leaders and community-based organizations in San Francisco in partnership with the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women and Stanford University’s School of Law, whose Levin Center for Public Service and Public Interest Law partnered with Mills on this Institute.

WPSP delegates learn about water treatment at Oceanside Treatment Plant
WPSP delegates learn about water treatment at Oceanside Treatment Plant

The end of the Institute was marked with a closing ceremony, distribution of certificates, & a revisiting of the meaningful relationships and skills gained from this successful Institute.

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