Women Leading Locally: Powering Global Change

Time and Place

Vancouver International Conference Center Room L116

Follow the conversation

@gwenkyoung @50x50

Event Details

One tool towards advancing gender parity in leadership across the globe is to convene women leaders themselves to talk about policies, practices and commitments to gender parity and the link to governance, inclusive economic growth and security.


The Affiliate event will feature mainly women mayors from across the globe who can discuss leadership at the local level, the link between local and national leadership and emerging trends in government. This panel will focus on pathways to leadership, key policies and opportunities that drive leadership, the link between gender parity and socio economic growth, and government innovation.




Maria Patricia Arce Guzman

Mayor of Vinto, Boliva


Powes Parkop,

Governor of the city of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea


Anastasia Pupsuy

Mayor of Irpin, Ukraine


Sy Taun

Vice President of NLC and Chief (mayor) of Phsar Thmey 1 Sangkrat in Phnom Penh, Cambodia




Gwen K. Young

Global Women’s Leadership Initiative Distinguished Fellow, Managing Director of the Global Emergency Response Coalition



Women Leaders in Power: Rising to 50x50

Time and Place

Vancouver International Conference Center Room 215-216

Follow the conversation


Event Details

The expert roundtable seeks to bring together representatives from a number of key countries to share learning and identify joint action and opportunities for cooperation to accelerate female leadership in public administrations. This is an action-oriented roundtable that seeks to create collaboration between the organizations and agencies present.

From a broader perspective, the objective of the side-event is to identify ways to strengthen women's   participation in public service, particularly in leadership positions in sectors and ministries where female leadership is traditionally underrepresented such as finance, infrastructure and communication. The key questions we will discuss include: Why have some administrations, such as the Finnish public administration, been successful in promoting female leadership? Why are women so under-represented in sectors such as such as finance and defence? How can we get more women into these jobs?

Elina Kalkku, Under-Secretary of State, Finland


Discussion moderated by r

Gwen Young, Director, Women in Public Service Project, Wilson Center



Julia Gillard

Former Prime Minister of Australia, Chair, Global Institute for Women’s Leadership, King’s College


Hina Jilani

Member of the Elders, Advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan


Elina Kalkku

Under-Secretary of State, Finland


Raquel Lagunas

Senior Policy Advisor on Gender Mainstreaming for the United Nations Development Project


Nahla Valji

Senior Gender Adviser for the Executive Office of the Secretary General of the United Nations




Spotlight Presenter Session: Global Women’s Leadership: Pathways, Positions and Power

Time and Place

Walter E. Washington Convention Center

Event Details

Ensuring that women sit at every decision-making table and make up 50% of leadership positions in government worldwide requires knowing where we are today. The Global Women’s Leadership Initiative Index (GWLI) is the first of its kind to measure women’s leadership and show which levers we can move to ensure women rise to leadership positions at the local and national level and across all sectors of governments across the globe. Ms. Young will discuss key takeaways from the GWLI to inform and empower women leaders around the world.

Featured Speakers

Image for Policies and Strategies Driving Inclusion and Productivity

Policies and Strategies Driving Inclusion and Productivity

Time and Place

The Wilson Center, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20004

Event Details

The rise of Diversity & Inclusion officers and departments within the public and private sector mirrors a commitment to not only gender equality but building a productive, engaged workforce. A critical piece is the policies and processes underlying this commitment.

EMD Serono, the leading private sector partner in a global public-private partnership called Healthy Women, Healthy Economies, has produced a policy toolkit which outlines how to link workplace policies with women's health and productivity.

Please join The Wilson Center Maternal Health Initiative (MHI), Women in Public Service Project, and EMD Serono, to discuss the impact inclusion plays in ensuring both workforce equity and productivity. The event will consist of a panel of private sector leaders discussing innovations in policies and initiatives to ensure men and women are healthy and productive employees. There will be a reception following the event.

Featured Speakers

Leadership Index

Roadmap to 50x50: Power and Parity in Women’s Leadership

Time and Place

University of Southern California; Annenberg School for Communication

Event Details

Where are women in governments around the world? How much power do they hold? How did they get to their positions of leadership?

The Global Women's Leadership Initiative Index is the first-of-its-kind tool that harnesses the power of data to answer these three key questions, providing a multi-dimensional snapshot of women's public service leadership in 75 countries across the globe.

Join Gwen K. Young, Managing Director of the Global Emergency Response Coalition and Distinguished Fellow at the Wilson Center's Global Women's Leadership Initiative for a discussion of the index, key findings and trends in women’s leadership in the public sector.

Moderating this program is Elizabeth McKay, CPD's Public Diplomat in Residence and Senior Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State.

Featured Speakers


Global Women's Leadership Initiative Fellow Lucina di Meco explores the role social media plays in women's lives and the challenges associated with navigating the digital world as a woman in an op-ed piece for The Hill

Read an excerpt from the article below:

"As I scrolled through online images, articles and comments about the third annual Women’s March earlier this year and with women’s history month upon us, I reflected on both how a single Facebook post incited this global demonstration and the complex role social media and the internet play in women’s lives. Particularly its power to galvanize a global sisterhood based on common challenges and a shared will to overcome them.

While access to the internet is quickly becoming a necessity for employability and is starting to be seen as a fundamental right, the digital public space is far from being a safe and empowering place for women and girls.

Globally, women use the internet 12 percent less than men, with the gap widening to 32 percent in the least developed countries, due to a wide range of reasons that relate to social norms and women’s place in society including income, perceptions about technical aptitude and concerns around privacy and safety."

Quoted text from the article



Edited by:

Global Fellow
The Struggle for Freedom From Fear

Violence Against Women at the Frontiers of Globalization: A Book Launch with Alison Brysk

Time and Place

Wilson Center 5th Floor Conference Room

Event Details

How can we understand and contest the global wave of violence against women? In this book, Alison Brysk shows that gender violence across countries tends to change as countries develop and liberalize, but not in the ways that we might predict.

Dr. Brysk shows how liberalizing authoritarian countries and transitional democracies may experience more shifting patterns and greater levels of violence against women than less developed and democratic countries, due to changes and uncertainties in economic and political structures.  

Please join the Women in Public Service Project at the Wilson Center for a book event with Dr. Alison Brysk, author of The Struggle for Freedom from Fear: Contesting Violence against Women at the Frontiers of Globalization, as she shares her findings on the profound impact of gender violence as a worldwide problem.

Featured Speakers


This report released by the Japanese government's Gender Equality Bureau Cabinet Office outlines the status of women in Japanese society, with statistics regarding work, education, health, and other factors contributing to gender equality. It additionally details the framework and intended actions for the promotion of gender equality in Japan in the future.


"Do women in Jordan want to work? How do men feel about working women in their family? To what extent do personal beliefs and societal expectations influence a woman's decision to work and why should this matter in development interventions?

The Jordanian government and development partners have invested heavily in promoting women's economic inclusion. However, Jordan has the lowest female labor force participation (FLFP) in the world of a country not at war. As development practitioners working on issues related to social and economic inclusion in the Middle East and North Africa (MNA) region, we ask ourselves these questions to help us understand binding constraints that prevent excluded groups, such as women and youth, from having equal opportunity to improve their quality of life. We also ask these questions to distinguish between our own and others' perceived notion of inclusiveness. Building evidence from the field is key to enable development practitioners design more effective interventions to support female labor force participation. 

The study's objective was to measure the extent to which social norms and beliefs concerning gender influence women's access to and participation in the labor market. It aimed at producing insights on what barriers women could be facing, and the extent to which individual beliefs versus social norms play a role. Results of this study contribute measurable evidence to gaps in social norms literature. There are many studies that have looked at structural and institutional barriers as well as identified social norms as a barrier to labor market participation, however many of these do not delve into mechanisms through which norms influence behavior nor do they explore intra-household dynamics in a measurable way. Similarly, others have talked about masculinity, without looking more closely at how it plays out at the household level. In contrast, the Jordan study also examines intra-household dynamics and how expectations of women’s spouse or male relative’s beliefs could be a constraint as well."

Quoted text from the publication (p. 4)


The Time Has Come

The Time Has Come: Why Men Must Join the Gender Equality Revolution

Time and Place

Wilson Center Board Room

Event Details

On 6th February 2019, the Wilson Center’s Women in Public Service Project (WPSP) hosted a panel discussion with Dr. Michael Kaufman about his book, The Time Has Come: Why Men Must Join the Gender Equality Revolution and men's role in promoting gender equality and women's rights in our workplaces, in public life, and in our homes.

Following opening remarks by Gwen K. Young, Director, Global Women’s Leadership Initiative and WPSP, the author Dr. Michael Kaufman presented his case for why now is the time for the gender equality revolution. Dr. Gary Barker, President and CEO of Promundo, joined Dr. Kaufman for a panel conversation, moderated by Ms. Young. The panelists discussed topics such as how to change the structure around men to foster equality, policy recommendations, the impact of the #MeToo movement, and listening and learning with respect. The panelists also answered audience questions.

Key Quotes

Dr. Michael Kaufman

Author, The Time Has Come: Why Men Must Join the Gender Equality Revolution

"This is an incredible moment, and it’s a difficult moment too. I think we have to recognize that. You don’t overthrow 8 or 10,000 years of social history, of social relationships, of structures, of ideas, you don’t do that without feeling a bit uncomfortable.”

"The implications of [the expectations of masculinity] are not just how I relate to you or how I behave, but how men construct societies of men’s power; how these gender politics, gender ideals, gender insecurities, get articulated at the level of national and international discourse and policy and how they filter through our society as a whole.”

"Men live incredibly isolated lives. This is a bizarre truth, we’ve created fraternities, Congresses, sports leagues of men being together. But what those things actually do is they provide a framework so men feel safe, they actually aren’t safe, but they feel safe within these structures of men’s power. And men feel, I think all of us at some level, live in real fear and terror, there’s true isolation in the lives of men. Now this does not mean that men are the biggest victims of patriarchy. But it means in the paradoxical way, men pay a price for the ways we’ve constructed the societies of men’s power. And so what it means… is we reach out to men with compassion. Compassion doesn’t mean you give excuses for violence or abuse, but it is about reaching out to human beings and understanding the humanity in other people.”

Dr. Gary Barker

President and CEO of Promundo

"We know that there’s a lot of anger to question manhood, and even the use of the term ‘toxic masculinity,’ the number of men who get defensive about it… about half of women and about half of men when asked said that men get criticized if they speak out for women’s equality. So both men and women acknowledge that men who stand up for this often take heat. Then the other extreme is that a few men speak out and they get knighted for just saying what is obvious about gender equality…how do we make the space safer in the middle for men to be doing the right thing?”

“Most men, when you say toxic masculinity, they read at the bottom ‘all men are bad’, so I think one very simple thing we’ve got to work on is how to have a conversation that calls men into this. We’ve been using the conversation about the ‘man box’, or finding common ground that says these set of ideas about manhood cause us all harm.”

“It’s how to find that delicate balance of calling some men out a lot of the time, but pulling all men in for this bigger conversation."

Featured Speakers

Diverse Boots on the Ground

Diverse Boots on the Ground: EU and NATO Effectiveness

Time and Place

Wilson Center

Event Details

On 10th December 2018, the Wilson Center’s Women in Public Service Project (WPSP), German Marshall Fund (GMF) and Women in International Security (WIIS) jointly organized a discussion of the GMF paper, Raising EU and NATO Effectiveness: The Impact of Diverse Boots on the Ground by Corinna Hoerst, Laura Groenendaal and Gale A. Mattox.

Following opening remarks by Gwen K. Young, Director, Global Women’s Leadership Initiative and WPSP, Laura Groenendaal and Gale A. Mattox presented their findings. Ellen Haring, Senior Fellow, Women in International Security, Director Combat Integration Initiative Project joined the presenters for a panel conversation, moderated by Ms. Young. The panelists also answered audience questions.

Key Points:

Security challenges have changed due to the rise of non-state actors and emerging security threats, EU and NATO military operations must adapt in order to remain effective. One way to increase effectiveness and credibility is to improve the role of women in EU and NATO operations both on the ground and in terms of leadership. Having a more balanced representation of gender will make missions more reflective of the countries carrying them out as well as the countries in which they take place, thereby enhancing the overall success of missions.

In order to bring about more diversity in their military missions, the policy brief provides recommendations for the EU, NATO, their member states, and the partner countries to improve implementation:

• Gender training at leadership levels
•  Political pressure and accountability are stated to be key in ensuring effectiveness
• A stronger follow-through mechanism is needed. Best practices need to be evenly implemented across military missions
• A cultural shift leading to diversity and inclusion across all levels of EU and NATO militaries can ensure that the issue of gender rises on the political agenda

If the EU and NATO leadership are held accountable for non-fulfilment of gender targets, it can lead to better implementation of UNSCR 1325 and other existing policy documents. A cultural shift leading to diversity and inclusion across all levels of EU and NATO militaries can ensure that the issue of gender rises on the political agenda.

Featured Speakers


The EU and NATO have both expressed their commitment to gender equality and to the promotion of women within their institutions as is evident in their policy documents to implement the landmark United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325) on Women, Peace and Security. Adopted in 2000, this laid the basis for legislation on the creation of gender policy in military forces. The resolution aims at the integration of gender considerations into all aspects of security work [including] participation in conflict resolution and peace processes, peacekeeping operations, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, security sector reform, protection and rights of women. It also encourages increased representation of women at all decision-making levels in national, regional and international institutions, as well as consultation with local and international women’s groups.[7]

NATO has since developed a Policy on Women, Peace and Security within the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. It has also initiated National Action Plans for members and partner countries, which have to provide the organization with reports on the implementation of UNSCR 1325.[8] While NATO is seen to be more ahead on these matters than the EU, the latter adopted in 2008 a comprehensive approach to improve gender equality.[9] This commitment to gender equality also belongs to the core EU values as the Treaty of the European Union (Articles 2 and 3) and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (Articles 8 and 10) stress the commitment of member states to non-discrimination and equality between women and men.

However, there remain imbalances in EU and NATO military missions when it comes to implementing the commitments. In 2016 the proportion of women working in different Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) military operations ranged from 3 to 8 percent. For NATO the proportion of women in military operations increased from 6.4 percent in 2014 to 6.8 percent in 2015. Representation of women in the alliance’s armed forces reached 10.9 percent in 2016.[10] Such underrepresentation undermines the credibility of both institutions, impedes the effectiveness of their military missions, and hinders a better outreach to populations where missions are deployed.

Photo of France Cordova

From Curiosity to Discovery: A Conversation with Jane Harman and Dr. France A. Córdova

Time and Place

Wilson Center, 6th fl auditorium

Event Details

Wilson Center President, Director & CEO Jane Harman will host a conversation with National Science Foundation (NSF) Director France A. Córdova about the future of innovation. This discussion will showcase NSF’s investments in fundamental research, its contributions to innovation and business and highlight Dr. Córdova - an astrophysicist, ground breaking female scientist, agency head, and Washington thought leader.

Featured Speakers

Film Premier: A New Leash On Life

Time and Place

Wilson Center, 6th Floor Auditorium

Event Details

The Women in Public Service Project and the American Society of Military Comptrollers in association with 62Media Works invite you to the Washington, D.C. premier of the documentary A New Leash On Life: The K9s for Warriors Story. 

Shari Duval was desperate for a solution to help her son Brett when he returned from serving in Iraq, suffering from PTSD. She stumbled on a story about a service dog helping a veteran and that story sparked an idea. That idea, to start a service dog agency for veterans, gave Brett new hope. Together, the two formed K9s for Warriors, which pairs veterans with service dogs. You may view the trailer here.

The screening will be followed by a Q&A featuring the film's co-producer and two cast members. 

Light refreshments will be served prior to showing the film at 12 noon.


Karen Hardy
Co-Producer, Best Selling and Award-winning Author, 62Media Works

ShiloWalter Schluterman
Cast Member, Veteran

Adam LeGrand
Cast Member, Veteran

Featured Speakers

Women in Public Service Project

A Conversation About Women in Leadership Ahead of the 2018 Midterms

Time and Place

Wilson Center 6th Floor Auditorium

Event Details

The Wilson Center’s Women in Public Service Project and The Council of Women World Leaders are pleased to host a conversation about Pew Research Center’s newly released report, "Women and Leadership 2018."


Juliana Horowitz

Associate Director, Research, Pew Research Center

Ruth Igielnik

Senior Researcher, Pew Research Center


Glynda Carr

Co-Founder, Higher Heights

Kim Parker

Director of Social Trends Research, Pew Research Center

Sabrina Schaeffe

Leadership Circle Chair, Independent Women’s Forum

Cynthia Terrell

Founder and Executive Director, Represent Women


Gwen K. Young

Director Global Women’s Leadership Initiative and The Women in Public Service Project

Let Her Fly

Submitted by gyoung on Tue, 10/09/2018 - 15:02
Journalist and Director

Megan Beyer's Story

MEGAN BEYER is a journalist, activist, and life-long advocate of women’s rights and
gender issues. Ms. Beyer currently serves as an advisor to a range of arts and civic
organizations including Civic Nation, the American Film Institute and the Better Angels
Society. In 2015 Ms. Beyer was appointed by President Barack Obama to be Executive
Director of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. In this role, she led
the first official U.S. Cultural Delegation to Cuba in 2016, which included directors of four
U.S. cultural agencies and prominent artists., Alfre Woodard, Usher, Joshua Bell, Smokey
Robinson, and Dave Matthews.
In 2010 she founded the bilateral Swiss-U.S. project, Sister Republics, which accelerates
private market drivers to break the glass ceiling. Ms. Beyer also served as the External
Relations Representative for the Swiss-based EDGE Gender Certification, a company that
certifies companies achieving a global standard of gender certification.
Ms. Beyer began her career as a reporter covering education and politics for local and
national television news programs. She was a regular contributor to Tamedia newspapers in
Switzerland from 2010-2013 and in the US, and her essays are found on Motherhood
Movement Online, Role ReBoot the Alexandria Times, and the Huffington Post. For the last
15 years she has been a regular panelist on To the Contrary, a women's political talk show
on public television stations nationwide.
She serves on the board of the Wilson Center's Women and Public Service Project, the
Geena Davis Institute for Gender in Media, the Library of Congress The John W. Kluge
Center Advisory Group and Meridian International. Over the last twenty five years she has
served on more than a dozen national, state and local boards including WETA- DC's public
television station, the national board of Reading is Fundamental, Virginia NARAL and was
Finance Chairman of the Virginia Community College System

Power of Women Institute

Power of Women Institute

Time and Place

NIH Natcher Conference Center, Bethesda, Maryland

Event Details

The Inaugural Power of Women Institute provides an opportunity for women professionals at every level in the Federal government to participate, network and advance their careers. A wealth of knowledge on the significant role and impact of women in the workplace will be shared by keynote and guest speakers and world-renowned special presenters and authors. You don’t want to miss this historic event!

Featured Speakers

National Director of Major Gifts

David Walker's Story

David F. A. Walker is National Director of Major Gifts at the United Negro College Fund (UNCF).

Prior to joining UNCF, Mr. Walker served as Chief Development Officer at Institute for Student Achievement in New York. He also previously served as Vice President for Development at Earth University in Costa Rica and as Vice President of Major Gifts and Planned Giving for United Way of New York City, one of the largest United Way affiliates in the United States.

In addition, he also served as the Vice President for Development at Long Island College Hospital, President of The Brooklyn College Foundation, Inc. and he was the New York Regional Director for MIT in the mid-1990. He got his fundraising start in the mid-1980 as Director of Mail & Phonathon at The New School, and he served with distinction as Director of Annual Giving at Polytechnic University.

David Walker earned his baccalaureate degree from Columbia University, where he completed a double-major in Psychology and French.

He is a Director of the Columbia Alumni Association and also serves on the board of Catholic Big Sisters & Big Brothers and is Co-Chair of the Global Advisory Board of Huairou Commission. He is currently Advisory Council Member in The Women in Public Service Project.   

Woman on a mountain

Global Climate Action Summit: Women Policy Leaders Driving Change in Global Climate Policy

Time and Place

Salesforce Tower, 415 Mission St Rm C-15, San Francisco, CA 94105

Event Details

Climate change has exerted a greater impact on the sections of the population with less resources to respond to natural disasters and hazards. The UN’s Gender and Climate Change program indicates that women commonly face higher risks of climate change as overcoming its consequences are more difficult in poverty-stricken situation where women hold a larger percentage.

Their greater vulnerability to climate change hazards is coupled with their unequal leadership position in policy decision-making and business industries. However, despite the barriers, women who have lead sustainable resource management and climate policies have demonstrated greater responsiveness to people’s needs, decreased existing inequalities and improved the efficacy of climate related projects and policies.

Join our panel of Women Policy Leaders Driving Change in Global Climate Policy:

  • Gina McCarthy, Former EPA Administrator and Director Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Center for Climate, Health and the Global Environment
  • Anne Baker, Deputy Controller for Environmental Policy, State Controller’s Office, California
  • Suzanne DiBianca, Executive Vice President of Corporate Relations and Chief Philanthropy Officer of Salesforce
  • Kathleen Rogers, President, Earth Day Network
  • Moderated by Gwen K Young, Director, Global Women’s Leadership Initiative and Women in Public Service Project, the Wilson Center


This panel highlights the women who are at the forefront of driving positive change in global climate policy as part of the Global Climate Action Summit

This event is co-hosted by the Wilson Center's Women in Public Service Project & Science and Technology Innovation Program, the Governing Institute and Salesforce

Courage to Run 5K

Courage to Run 5K

Time and Place

Historic Congressional Cemetery

Event Details

Please join our partnership event - Courage to Run 5K - for a day of improving the health of women in politics by running or walking a 5K! Courage to Run celebrates women political players and civic actors by striving to strengthen the mindset and physical endurance needed to be healthy and lead effectively. We invite everyone interested in non-partisan civic engagement to join us on September 16th and run a 5K in Washington D.C. in support of the rising wave of women. For those not in D.C., you can create a Virtual Courage to Run 5K in your local community and receive a t-shirt and a medal to support the cause!

Register by August 20th to guarantee receiving your t-shirt, customized bib, and a medal for the race day!

When you register, select "Women in Public Service Project" under Charity Partners to support our team

To have the logo of Women in Public Service Project printed on your t-shirt, enter "50x50" in the bib prompt!


A balance between men and women in NATO and European Common Security and Defense military missions creates concrete benefits: Increased credibility for the organizations, more effective military missions and operations and the ability to better reach out to local populations. At the same time, there is a continuing gender imbalance in these organizations, especially when it comes to senior positions. The NATO Brussels Summit in Brussels July 11 and 12, 2018 is an opportunity for NATO and all allied and partner countries to coalesce around a comprehensive strategy for defending against and deterring this activity in the future that would increase the involvement of all member and partner countries.

While the EU and NATO have undertaken action and provided recommendations to improve the number of women in senior positions, these measures have not been sufficient to date. Facing unprecedented security threats, the EU and NATO need to step up their operational effectiveness: Creating more diversity in the military increases the success of military missions. This policy brief proposes measures applicable to both organizations to improve the implementation of current policies.



Edited by:


This report describes the findings of a landscape analysis conducted by our lead partner ICRW Asia in the 3D Program’s first year of operations in India. It includes information on the historical, demographic, social and economic context of our program site, Pune District, and outlines the administrative systems of Pune rural District. It also includes a situation analysis of the status of girls and women in Pune and a mapping of key health, education and safety initiatives for girls and women in rural Pune being implemented by government, civil society and the private sector. Initiatives on economic empowerment will be covered in a forthcoming report.


Co-founder of Malala Fund

Ziauddin Yousafzai 's Story

Ziauddin Yousafzai is a co-founder and board member of Malala Fund. He is the father of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Malala Yousafzai. For many years, Ziauddin served as a teacher and school administrator in his home country of Pakistan.

When the Taliban invaded their home in Swat Valley, Ziauddin peacefully resisted their efforts to limit personal freedoms. Speaking out put Ziauddin at risk, but he feared remaining silent would be far worse. Inspired by her father’s example, Malala began publicly campaigning for girls to go to school. At age 15, Malala was shot for speaking out. She recovered, continued her campaign and with Ziauddin founded Malala Fund. Together they champion every girl’s right to 12 years of free, safe, quality education.

HOPE Seminar

HOPE Nonpartisan and Binational Fellowship

Time and Place

6th Floor Board Room, The Wilson Center

Event Details

The Global Women's Leadership Initiative (GWLI) partnered with Grupo Salinas and Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE) to host a day-long seminar for the HOPE Nonpartisan and Binational Fellowship Program. The HOPE Fellowship is an executive leadership program that provides Latina professionals with knowledge needed to make urgent and long-lasting improvements in the lives of Latinas in the United States and Mexico. HOPE's inaugural Class of 2018 engaged with the Wilson Center's top experts on the best research and knowledge of critical national and global issues. Throughout the day, participants were inspired to continue their commitment to civic engagement and a purposeful public service career. Experts discussed key global and national issues in seven presentations throughout the day.


Featured Speakers


NATO and the Women, Peace and Security Agenda: A Conversation with Clare Hutchinson

Time and Place

6th Floor Board Room, The Wilson Center

Follow the conversation


Event Details


Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

The topic of Women, Peace and Security is gaining traction worldwide as a critical aspect of international security policy. As this conversation continues, key international organizations including NATO are placing greater emphasis on integrating gender considerations in the execution of international military and diplomatic actions.

Clare Hutchinson is one of the leading voices in this effort as the NATO Secretary General's Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security. She brings years of experience in global gender dynamics to the Women, Peace and Security dialogue.

In advance of the NATO summit in Brussels, the Women in Public Service Project welcomed Clare Hutchinson for a conversation on the Women, Peace and Security priorities for NATO and her vision for inclusive security at the organization.

Co-hosted in partnership with:



Header photo: NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organization via Flickr

Key Quotes

Amb. Melanne Verveer  

Executive Director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security; Former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues

“NATO has increasingly taken the UN’s imperative established in Security Council Resolution number 1325… [that] links the role of women to peace and security. They have understood that and taken that leadership in a serious way.”

“In the military venue particularly, the whole issue of operational effectiveness is paramount in ensuring why the integration [of women] matters.”

Clare Hutchinson

NATO Secretary General's Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security

"On October 21 2000, security council of the UN unanimously adopted Resolution 1325 on women’s rights. It was, and remains so, historically forward; when women would no longer be described as helpless victims but instead be finally recognized as, on the political agenda, as active agents of peace and security. Its essence is about making the invisible, visible, and about opening spaces for women’s participation in the decisions in and around conflict and peace.”

Having women at the table is important, but it’s only important if those women are feminist women…so having women who push the agenda to help other women is important.”

"We need to understand what makes populations safe together and right now, we’re only looking at one half of that population. The issue of any change affects women."

"We must deliver better on the mandate; for the sake of women, peace, and security.”

Gwen K. Young   

Director, Women in Public Service Project

“I’ve worked in conflict situations, and what I see often… is that during periods of conflict, it's women who lead the communities... So how are we ensuring that we’re taking that perspective what’s going on at the community level into peace and security discussions?”

“You want the women not because there is a particular leadership style, and not all women lead the same, but we want to be around all the decision-making tables, offering their perspective, and hopefully offering the best policy solution that we can muster when you have the other half of the population sitting at the table.”

Featured Speakers

NATO Secretary General's Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security
Clare Hutchinson

Clare Hutchinson 's Story

Clare Hutchinson has been NATO Secretary General's Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security since January 2018. Ms. Hutchinson has long-standing experience, including more than 10 years working as a Gender Advisor with the United Nations. As a Gender Advisor at the UN, Ms. Hutchinson has been involved in policy making, gender training and peacekeeping operations. Prior to peacekeeping she worked in risk communications and marketing.


Governing in a Global World captures the panorama of women governing around the world. Even though the modern era marks history’s greatest advancements for women, worldwide they hold fewer than 30 percent of decision-making positions and are often missing from negotiating tables where policies are made and conflicts resolved. The opening chapters present trends and context for studying women in public service by focusing on path-setters across the globe, the status of women in the world’s executive and legislative bodies, and their participation in public service across several nations. Later chapters examine power, leadership and representation of women in public service, with several chapters looking at women governing from a regional perspective in the Middle East, Sub Sahara Africa, Latin America, and China. The final chapter presents empirical evidence that shows how policies to increase women’s representation in the public arena reduce gender inequality more than any other policy intervention. Taken together, the chapters illustrate the worldwide importance of, and challenges to, promoting gender equality and women governing.



Edited by:


The case for narrowing the gender gap is well established, and programs seeking to empower women in sub-Saharan Africa have multiplied. Yet a critical piece is missing: a focus on rural girls from zero to ten years old. Discrimination and social norms that penalize girls and women do not start at adolescence, and by the time many rural girls are 10, it is often too late to undo the damage that has already been done.

As an African woman leader who has grown up on the African soil, Joyce Banda, Malawi's first female president and Africa's second, has seen firsthand how young rural girls face obstacles in areas that are critical in shaping their future. This book makes the case of how, if African girls are to realize their potential as leaders and change the narrative of their continent, gender interventions should and can be started from day one. For we cannot to leave any girl behind



Edited by:

Ambassador of Sweden to the U.S.

H.E. Ambassador Karin Olofsdotter's Story

Her Excellency Karin Olofsdotter took up her post as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Sweden to the United States of America on September 1, 2017. Before her assignment to Washington DC she served as Director-General for Trade at the –Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Sweden from September 1, 2016. Ambassador Olofsdotter has also held the position of Deputy Director-General and Head of the Department for Promotion of Sweden, Trade and CSR in Stockholm in the two years prior.

She served as Ambassador at the Embassy in Budapest from 2011 to August 2014. Between 2008 and 2011, Ms. Olofsdotter served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the Swedish Embassy in Washington DC, where she had overall responsibility for coordination of the work at the Embassy.

She entered the Foreign Service in 1994, and served as Chief of Staff to several Swedish Foreign Ministers and as Director of the Ministers Office in Stockholm before joining the Embassy in Washington.

She entered the Foreign Service in 1994, and served as Chief of Staff to several Swedish Foreign Ministers and as Director of the Ministers Office in Stockholm before joining the Embassy in Washington.

Ms. Olofsdotter has also served at the Swedish EU Representation in Brussels, Belgium, working with European security policy and defense issues. She chaired the EU’s Political-Military Group during the Swedish Presidency of the EU in 2001. Prior to this she worked at the Swedish delegation to NATO. Her first posting was in Moscow, Russia, where she was mainly responsible for covering Belarus.

Ms. Olofsdotter has a B.A. in psychology, economics and Russian. She studied at UCLA Anderson School of Management and speaks Russian, French and English. She is married and has a son and a daughter.

Executive Director, UN-Habitat

Maimunah Mohd Sharif's Story

UN‐Habitat Ms. Maimunah Mohd Sharif (Malaysia) is the Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN‐Habitat), appointed at the level of Under‐Secretary‐ General by the Secretary‐General, following an election by the General Assembly on 22 December 2017. She succeeds Dr. Joan Clos of Spain.

Prior to this appointment, Ms. Sharif was the Mayor of the City Council of Penang Island, Malaysia. In 2011, she was the first woman to be appointed president of the Municipal Council of Seberang Perai. As mayor of a local authority, she led the Municipal Council of Seberang Perai to achieve its vision of a “cleaner, greener, safer and healthier place to work, live, invest and play”. She is a champion of Gender‐Responsive Participatory Budgeting and Gender Responsive Participatory Planning, integrating gender perspectives into the governance process as a means of mainstreaming gender into budgetary and development policy and planning. During her tenure, the Municipal Council of Seberang Perai was the first Local Authority to implement and achieve six quality‐based management ISO certifications. Ms. Sharif began her career as a Town Planner at the Municipal Council of Penang Island in 1985. In 2003, she was promoted to Director of Planning and Development, a position she held until November 2009. As Director, she was responsible for the preparation of structure and local plans, and was directly involved in development control of Penang City projects and landscape development. She also led a team for the planning and implementation of the Urban Renewal Projects in George Town. In November 2009, she was entrusted as the first General Manager to establish George Town World Heritage Incorporated and manage the George Town World Heritage Site, which was inscribed by UNESCO in July 2008.

Born in Kuala Pilah, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia, on 26 August 1961, Ms. Sharif holds a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Town Planning Studies from the University of Wales Institutes of Science and Technology, the United Kingdom, and a Master of Science in Planning Studies from the Malaysia Science University. She has received a number of awards, among others by the Penang State Government and International Organisations, such as “Planner of The Year 2014” by the Malaysian Institute of Planners as well as the 2016 Global Human Settlements Outstanding Contribution Award during Habitat III in Quito, for her contribution in sustainable planning in Seberang Perai. On 11 January 2018, she received a recognition award from the Malaysia Book of Records for being the first Asian woman to be appointed as Executive Director of UN‐Habitat.


Perspectives on Gender Parity: Solutions Across Sectors and Borders

Time and Place

6th Floor, The Wilson Center

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Event Details





With the launch of a feminist foreign policy in 2014, Sweden has taken national progress to the international stage by integrating gender considerations into all aspects of foreign policy decision-making. At the forefront of this effort in the United States is Ambassador Karin Olofsdotter, the first woman to represent Sweden as Ambassador to the United States.

The Women in Public Service Project welcomed Ambassador Olofsdotter to the Wilson Center for a conversation on driving progress toward gender parity through diplomacy.

WPSP Director Gwen K. Young led a moderated discussion and Q&A with Ambassador Olofsdotter to explore solutions that span across sectors and borders.

Learn more about Sweden's progress toward parity in the Global Women's Leadership Initiative Index.


Key Quotes

Gwen K. Young

Director, Women in Public Service Project


"I think the interesting thing about that culture is that it has to be both at home and in the workplace. Where in the workplace it would be looking suspicious if the man actually does not take that time. Right, so his time is valued just as much as the woman."

"In our newly released Global Women's Leadership Index, Sweden scored 3.5 out of 5. We're calling it a 'balanced parity country,' where women can not only rise to the top in government leadership positions, but rise across sectors and portfolios of government."

H.E. Ambassador Karin Olofsdotter

Ambassador of Sweden to the United States


"The Swedish government is the first government in the world [that] declared itself a feminist government in 2014. It is a feminist government with a feminist foreign policy. And the idea behind this is, of course, that women and men should have the same power to shape society and their own lives. I think this was a bit ridiculed in the beginning... but I think the laughing has stopped."

"Women also need to be pushed a bit more. We need to be a bit more emboldened. Go for the positions. The head of personnel at the ministry said if we put out an advertisement for a job and you need five criteria, the woman says, 'Oh I only have four. I can't apply' and the guy looked at it from a distance and said, 'That's me. I fit two. I'm going for it."

"It's really important that we ... stress equality between men and women and show why it is important... We have to show the results that we can achieve."

"It's important to show role models to show that women, of course, can do just as good as men. It should never matter if you are a man or a woman at your job. If you can do it, you can do it."

"I think women need to be a bit more bold. Be bold."


Hosted in partnership with


Embassy of Sweden


Header Photo: Mando Gomez via Flickr



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Global Leadership Ambassadors

Connecting global champions for gender parity

WPSP Global Leadership Ambassadors are leaders and champions for women's empowerment and leadership globally. Ambassadors include activists and advocates from around the world who are committed to the global effort toward gender parity.

Our Global Leadership Ambassadors

Ms. Shabana Azmi

Actress and Social Activist

Shabana Azmi

Shabana Azmi is a critically acclaimed Indian actress and global leader for women’s and girl’s empowerment. Often referred to as India’s Meryl Streep she has won the prestigious National Award for Best Actress an unprecedented five times and several international awards.

More about Shabana Azmi


Ziauddin Yousafzai 

Co-founder of Malala Fund

Ziauddin Yousafzai

Ziauddin Yousafzai is a co-founder and board member of Malala Fund. He is the father of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Malala Yousafzai. For many years, Ziauddin served as a teacher and school administrator in his home country of Pakistan.

More about Ziauddin Yousafzai

Partnership Opportunities

Join global influencers in the effort to secure a seat at the table for the world's women leaders.

The Women in Public Service Project is pursuing a bold vision: women holding 50% of policy and political leadership positions by the year 2050.  We are moving this 50x50 vision forward by:

  • Driving transparency and transformation in governments and governmental solutions
  • Gathering and sharing information and evidence on the factors driving women’s leadership in public spaces
  • Enabling and inspiring emerging women leaders in political and policy positions around the globe

We believe that the 50x50 vision for global gender parity can only be achieved when institutions and societies are equipped to empower women leaders. To accomplish the 50x50 goal, we must know where we stand today.

Our Global Women’s Leadership Initiative Index is the only global comprehensive framework of key indicators driving women’s participation, leadership and power in governments across the globe. With this framework we can fill critical knowledge gaps with a data-driven evidence base, policies and metrics.

Through global convenings, groundbreaking research, and innovative partnerships, the Women in Public Service Project facilitates vital conversations around women’s leadership.

The Women in Public Service Project is an important resource of the Wilson Center, the only think tank to receive the Economic Dividends for Gender Equality (EDGE) Certification. Established by the U.S. Congress, the Center provides a trusted non-partisan platform, producing actionable ideas that bridge the gap between scholarship and policy.

The Wilson Center is recognized as the #1 regional studies think tank in the world, and the #5 think tank in the United States by the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program at the University of Pennsylvania.

Partnerships with the Women in Public Service Project

Achieving gender parity in political and policy leadership will require not only a solid foundation of data and research, but also the full participation and collaboration of key leaders and stakeholders. Our partners and sponsors are crucial members of this global platform.

The Women in Public Service Project offers partnership opportunities for individuals and organizations. All partners and sponsors receive access to the leading experts and research on global gender parity, as well as regular updates on programming, events and convenings. 

To learn more about partnerships and identify the best opportunity for you or your organization, email us at

Corporate Sponsors

Corporate Sponsors of the Women in Public Service Project build critical public-private partnerships in support of the 50x50 vision. As key partners in our mission, corporate sponsors play a visible role in WPSP programming and initiatives.

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The WPSP Board of Directors consists of founding institutions, partner colleges and universities, government entities, and accomplished individuals. The Board meets twice a year to provide insight, leadership and guidance toward the growth and viability of the Women in Public Service Project and the realization of the 50x50 goal.

50x50 Leadership Circle

To drive the 50x50 vision forward, the Women in Public Service Project builds partnerships with dynamic and innovative leaders in the public and private sectors. Members of the 50x50 Leadership Circle are global changemakers and influencers from a wide range of backgrounds including government, technology, business and nonprofit leadership.

Why Partner with the Women in Public Service Project?

As a partner of the Women in Public Service Project, you will join a network of global changemakers at the forefront of the movement toward global gender parity in public service. The Women in Public Service Project is the singular champion for women’s policy and political leadership on a global scale. As the premiere information hub in this space, we are committed to convening global stakeholders and providing the public with comprehensive, accessible research and data. Your support is critical to our success.

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To learn more about partnership opportunities with the Women in Public Service Project, please email us at

To make a gift to the Women in Public Service Project, please visit our donations page.

WPSP Global Ambassador
Shabana Azmi Headshot

Connect with Shabana Azmi

Shabana Azmi's Story

Shabana Azmi is a critically acclaimed Indian actress and global leader for women’s and girl’s empowerment. Often referred to as India’s Meryl Streep she has won the prestigious National Award for Best Actress an unprecedented five times and several international awards.

Azmi has been commended for outstanding achievements as a global leader on the status of women. In 1989, she was one of sixteen women honored by President Mitterand of France in celebration of the bicentenary of International Human Rights. In 2002, Azmi was awarded the Martin Luther King, Park and Chavez Award by Michigan State University. In 2006, she was awarded the Gandhi International Peace Prize at the House of Lords in London and the Crystal Award at the World Economic Forum along with Michael Douglas and Mohammed Ali (Cassius Clay).

She has been Goodwill Ambassador on Population and Development with the UNFPA, the Goodwill Ambassador for HIV/AIDS with SAARC ,the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation, and a Global Ambassador for the Women in Public Service Project.

Azmi believes art should be used as an instrument for social change and is also a committed social activist. She has worked extensively with slum dwellers in Mumbai with Nivara Hakk, a housing rights NGO of which she was President, and provided houses for free to 50,000 people in Mumbai evicted from their homes. It is the largest single resettlement project in Asia. She heads the NGO Mijwan Welfare Society (MWS) founded by her father that works for the empowerment of rural India with a focus on women and girls. Strong mentorship and financial independence has transformed the lives of these women who have become active participants in decision making both in their families and in their communities.

She has fought relentlessly against religious fundamentalism of all hues and is highly respected as a moderate, liberal Muslim voice.

Shabana Azmi has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from St. Xaviers College, and Honorary Doctorates from Leeds Metropolitan University, Jamia Milia University, Viswa Bharti University, and Simon Fraser University. She is married to Javed Akhtar, an Urdu poet, film lyricist and a script writer in Hindi cinema. She is Chairperson of the board of Action Aid India and member of the International board of BRAC in Bangladesh.

Advisor Business Unit Consumer Products, Packages Limited, Chairman DIC Pakistan Limited, Director Packages Constructions (Pvt.) Ltd., and Member of Packages Group Advisory Board

Syeda Henna Babar Ali's Story

Syeda Henna Babar Ali, Advisor Business Unit Consumer Products, Packages Limited, Chairman DIC Pakistan Limited, Director Packages Constructions (Pvt.) Ltd., and Member of Packages Group Advisory Board, is involved with the Strategic Planning and decision making process together with the Senior Management of Packages Group looking after a manufacturing business turnover of over $ 500 Million, investment portfolio of $ 1 Billion.

From 1989-2008 Ms. Ali consolidated the Tissue Paper Business, initiated marketing strategy and supervised implementation of Business Plans through sales and brand teams. She was responsible for creating and maintaining market leadership of the Packages Tissue Business from 1986 to 2008.

From 1989-2001 Ms. Ali created a marketing cell in the Consumer Products Division for branded business, created, nurtured and developed three brands: Rose Petal, Tulip, Double Horse for the tissue business, achieved and maintained 70% market share through aggressive advertising, product quality improvement and innovation. She also worked as Publication Advisor from 1988 till 1989, and as Special Assistant to Syed Babar Ali from 1982 to 1983.

From 1981-1982 Ms. Ali established Indus Publications (Pvt.) Ltd to produce quality books for children at affordable prices, produced two books, Tote Botote authored by Sufi Ghulam Mustafa Tabassum, illustrated by Afshar, and Wet Sun, her first book of illustrated poetry.

Henna was schooled at the Convent of Jesus and Mary, Lahore where she completed her  Senior Cambridge 1972, and Higher Senior Cambridge 1975, from Cathedral School, BA 1977 from Kinnard College as a private candidate of Punjab University, stood first in geography and Music. BA 1979, MA 1981 in English Literature, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA. She believes in continous educational training and has attended several Professional Development Programs in leadership, marketing strategy, brand management and has received certifications from leading educational institutions in Pakistan, Europe and USA.

As a poet, she has self-published 9 books of poetry, 1 in Urdu and 8 in English, which are: Urdu: Gardish-e-Douran, English 1) Wet Sun 2) Midnight Dialogue 3) Dream and Reality 4) The Luminous Path 5) To Discover The Unknow 6) A Rose 7) Rainy Days 8) The Nest.

In recognition of her poetic excellence she received the Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah Award 2007 for Best English Poet. Best Pakistan English Poet, Bolan Cultural Academy of Pakistan 2003, Winner of Spring Summer Poetry Award, Houghton Mufflin and Company, 1985.

To promote literary activities in Pakistan, she founded P.E.N. Pakistan Centre, managed and sponsored it from 2002 – 2013.

She composed music for Hamd-o-Naat, Sauz-e-Salam, in a CD Raushan Kinara, sung by Sana Nur.

Ms Ali is on the Board of 3 Family Foundations, Ali Institute of Education and WWF-Pakistan, Charter Member, Lean In Pakistan (2016 to present), Friend 2014-Present, US Pakistan Women’s Council and Advisor, US Pakistan Women’s Council 2012-2014, Asia Society Global Council Member 2002-2016.

Widow of Syed Faisal Imam, Henna has one daughter, lives and works in Lahore, Pakistan.


This report focuses on the particular political party regulations where the provision of public funding (state assistance) to political parties is linked to gender-related activities by those parties. Such provisions exist today in around 30 countries worldwide and it is a form of regulation that has become increasingly common in the past two decades.

The report explores the concept of gender-targeted funding and its different modalities. Detailed case studies from Albania, Croatia, France, Haiti and Portugal illustrate experiences from different countries and the concluding chapter presents recommendations for countries considering using these methods to increase women’s political representation.


Edited by:


Discover what truly drives gender parity in public service leadership around the world in a groundbreaking new report from the Women in Public Service Project.

The Women in Public Service Project is pleased to release the first report from the Global Women's Leadership Initiative Index (the Leadership Index) measuring not only where women are in government, but also how they got there and the power they hold in these positions across five sectors of government in 75 countries.

Roadmap to 50x50: Power and Parity in Women's Leadership highlights the key findings and drivers within the 3-pillar framework of the Leadership Index, or 3 P's to Parity: Pathways, Positions and Power.

The “50x50 Report” examines where we are today and where we need to go to achieve the goal of "50x50": women holding 50% of policy and political leadership positions worldwide by 2050.

The "50x50 Report" measures more than just numbers - it also examines where women are present or absent in decision-making. The report illustrates a roadmap to balanced parity, look at both glass ceilings (the number of women in leadership) and glass walls (women's leadership across policy functions).

By taking into account where countries sit in terms of progress toward gender parity, the "50x50 Report" identifies the levers that can increase momentum toward the 50x50 goal. The report will serve as a launchpad and a critical tool to shape policy conversations that drive institutional and systemic changes that will enable more women to lead across the globe.

The report will launch at the Wilson Center with conversations and presentations from global thought leaders from across sectors on how to make practical use of these insights in the quest for gender parity. View the full event here.


Roadmap to 50x50

Roadmap to 50x50: Power and Parity in Women's Leadership

Time and Place

6th Floor Auditorium, The Wilson Center

Follow the conversation



Event Details

Discover new tools to achieve gender parity in public service leadership around the world in a groundbreaking new report from the Women in Public Service Project.


Jump to VideosSpeakers & Key Quotes | Global Events 

Where are women in governments around the world? How much power do they hold? How did they get to their positions of leadership? The Global Women's Leadership Initiative Index is a first-of-its-kind project that harnesses the the power of data to answer these three key questions, providing a multi-dimensional snapshot of women's public service leadership in 75 countries.

On May 15, 2018, the Women in Public Service Project released the first annual findings from the Leadership Index and hear from global thought leaders from across sectors on how to make practical use of these insights in the quest for gender parity.


Full Event 

Event Recap


Speakers & Key Quotes

Event Moderator

Dana Bash
Chief Political Correspondent, CNN

Dana Bash

"This is special: to have a woman heading this amazing center, the Woodrow Wilson Center; to have this amazing study, which is really remarkable - slightly depressing, but remarkable - because we need to know the stats and the data."

Opening Remarks

The Honorable Jane Harman
Director, President and CEO, Wilson Center

Jane Harman

“In an era of fake news, this is the real deal.”

“How can we expect the best foreign policy decisions, or any policy decisions for that matter, with only half the population represented at the table?”

“We have complete data measuring women’s leadership across 75 countries - more coming soon - and today we are making public the first report - that’s this report that you all need to have and memorize - measuring the pathways to women’s leadership.”

Opening Conversation: Today's Women Leaders and the 50x50 Vision

Michèle Flournoy
Co-Founder & Managing Partner, WestExec

Michele Flournoy

“You have to be absolutely excellent, over prepared, so there is no question why you’re there. And you have to also be willing to stand up for your voice. When someone interrupts the woman, you have to say, “Excuse me, I’d like to finish.”

“Diverse leadership teams make better decisions and oversee higher performing organizations.”

Carla Hayden
Librarian of Congress

Carla Hayden

“You have to be very concrete and intentional and specific about what you want. And that’s something as a female in positions, you hesitate, or you might think in mentoring young women about not being afraid to be definite and secure in what you do.”

“It’s really empowering women to be themselves, to be authentic, and not be so upset to show weakness."

“When you think about the pay and equity with education, and what we pay teachers, our most important group really when you think about the future and what they are paid, part of that has to do with it is a feminized profession. And so, we’re working on that, in general, with all of those traditionally feminized professions.”

Roadmap to 50x50: Power and Parity in Women's Leadership

Gwen K. Young
Director, Global Women's Leadership Initiative and Women in Public Service Project

Gwen Young

“This Index is the first of its kind, because it’s the first to measure women’s leadership across all five sectors of government. So not just women presidents, and the women in parliament and legislature, but women in public administration, the judiciary, [and] national security.”

“We know with data, not only can you measure, but you can innovate, you can drive change, and you can find solutions.”

“We often don’t think about public administration … which implements the laws, which in some countries is the safer or ‘better’ place for women to work … but also that controls a lot of the GDP and what goes on in a country. So this is incredibly important.”

“Not only do you have to break the ceilings, but you have to break the walls. You have to get women at every decision-making table.”

“This has been a global effort built off partnerships and platforms … part of what we want to do is continue to build this global platform of people that are committed to women’s leadership in government, committed to women’s leadership across all sectors, and figure out exactly what it’s going to take to move the needle.”

Lightning Talks: Pathways to Parity

Nadia Younes
Chief Innovation Officer, EDGE Strategy

Nadia Younes

“We have to get rid of some of the myths. The myth of meritocracy, the myth that it’s going to take 217 years, the myth that this has to be slow.”

Ayesha Molino
Senior Vice President for Federal Government Affairs, MGM Resorts International

Ayesha Molino

“What does this mean to advance gender parity, particularly in the public sector? What we have found is that three things are essential. First, you have to have a top-down commitment that gender diversity inclusion, including the willingness to devote meaningful resources to the cause.”

Stephanie Gore
Director, Government, People & Change, KPMG LLP

Stephanie Gore

"I think there are some programs that other companies can use and model, like KPMG, the other big fours as well, that will help retain women and give them options to opt-in, and remain in, instead of opting-out of the workforce.”

Fireside Chat: Policies for Parity

H.E. Ambassador Lars Gert Lose
Ambassador of Denmark to the United States

Amb. Lars Gert Lose

“We have to look at the basic structures in our society that would actually enable women to get out there and work.”

“It is important to keep this on this agenda for countries that think they do well. Denmark has done well for many years, but we still have a lot of work to do.”

“Involving more men in gender equality, the ‘HeForShe’ thinking, that is an important cross-cutting issue on this agenda.”

H.E. Ambassador Jennifer Loten
Ambassador of Canada to the OAS

Amb. Jennifer Loten

“The idea of culture, the culture of equality … how do you create and promote that? Some of the best policies in the world will only work if you have ways to ensure there is a penetration of understanding.”

“An important culture change that I think we have to make…We have to stop thinking about our kids as a barrier or an anchor… they are a source of inspiration and energy, they are the reason that we go to work and the reason we come home at the end of the day. It should not be something that detracts from our vision of ourselves as leaders.”

“I think we need have to stop asking ourselves whether or not [the 50x50 vision is attainable] and just get on with it.”

Lighting Talks: Power and True Parity

Patrick Keuleers
Director for Governance and Peacebuilding, UNDP

Patrick Keuleers

“Gender parity in public administration, in my view, is important for three main reasons. First, barriers to women’s advancement in public service undermine the fundamental principles of equality opportunity and social justice in society. Second, without a critical mass of women in public administration, a government is not tapping into the full potential of a countries capacity, workforce and creativity. Third, the public administration affects the lives of millions of people, half of who—if not more—are women.”

“Research shows that gender parity in policy-making and decision-making enhances the effectiveness and responsiveness of administrative agencies.”

“We know that more women engaging in the peace processes leads to the sustainability of the peace agreements.”

Katja Iversen
CEO, Women Deliver

Katja Iversen

“Girls and women are powerhouses, and they are critical in powering progress for everybody - especially when they are in leadership positions.”

“If we really want to see the change that we need to see, we need to shift investments, we need to shift the narrative, and we need to get that data and stories into play.”

“Gender equality is in the water, we just need to get people to drink that water.”

Closing Remarks: The Look Ahead

Shabana Azmi

Shabana Azmi
Actress, Social Activist, and WPSP Global Ambassador

"I believe that men and women are different ... not better, not worse, but different. And that difference needs to be included in the global dialogue that is taking place."

"Often times, education reinforces gender divides. It is very important that when you talk about education, you talk about gender-just education."


Global Events

The #Roadmap50x50 conversation is a global one - and to drive the conversation across borders, key stakeholders around the world will host events highlighting the report and putting the findings and data into contexts specific to their own country or policy area of focus. These Power and Parity Global Events will take place around the world from May 15 - 22, 2018.


Gratë në Shërbim Publik: A Power and Parity Global Event
Hosted by WPS Albania
May 18, 2018 | 5:00pm
Hotel Iliria
Tirana, Albania
Follow on Twitter: @WPSAlbania

Join WPS Albania for a screening of the event and conversation about data driving gender parity. WPS Albania CEO Mimoza Hajdarmataj will lead a discussion on women's representation in policy and political leadership in Albania with Mrs. Dhurata Cupi, Member of the Albanian Parliament and Head of Alliance of Women MPs and Mr. Afrim Krasniqi, Political Scientist, Researcher, and Executive Director of the Institute for Political Study in Albania.


Women's Representation in Public Service Globally: The Facts
Hosted by Apolitical
May 18, 2018 | 8:30am
Ministry of Justice
London, UK
Follow on Twitter: @apoliticalco

Apolitical is hosting a screening of the summary findings of the first-ever "50x50 Report" from the Women in Public Service Project. Come find out what the data says about gender in the public service and join a discussion led by Odette Chalaby, lead reporter on gender for Apolitical, around barriers and opportunities to accelerate progress toward gender parity in political leadership.


Power and Parity: Women's Political Leadership
Hosted with the US National Committee for UN Women, San Francisco Bay Area Chapter
June 18, 2018
Cambria Gallery
San Francisco, CA, USA
Follow on Twitter: @UN_Women_SF

Join the US National Committee for UN Women San Francisco Bay Area Chapter and WPSP to celebrate the power of women's political leadership as we strive to achieve the 50x50 vision of women holding 50% of policy and political leadership positions by the year 2050. The event will feature a keynote address from Betty Yee, California State Controller and a panel conversation with Christine Pelosi, Chair of the California Democratic Party Women's Caucus and Kristin Hayden, Chief Partnership Officer for Ignite, moderated by Debbie Mesloh, President of the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women.

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Featured Speakers


On International Women's UNSW celebrated and promoted gender parity through the #PressforProgress campaign. The organization's goals are 40% women's representation in academia and 50% representation in professional sectors. 

report part 1report part 2report part 3report part 4










#GettingTo5050: Framework Toward Action for a More Equal World

Time and Place

6th Floor Auditorium, The Wilson Center

Follow the conversation


Event Details

Learn more about the policies and practices driving gender parity around the world in Roadmap to 50x50: Power and Parity in Women's Leadership - launching May 15, 2018. Details here.


The Women in Public Service Project is proud to partner with Let it Ripple Studios to engage policymakers and gender parity champions in 50/50 Day, a day of global conversation and action toward the #GettingTo5050 Movement.

Event Recap

Around the world, women leaders are emerging to contribute  their voices to critical conversations in public policy and play a role in making decisions that affect their daily lives and their communities. 

Full Event Recording

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

Behind this momentum are institutional policies and best practices that forge a path forward for women to assume leadership and decision-making positions. In order to achieve full gender equality in policy and political leadership, governments must demonstrate political will and a commitment to policies and practices that drive parity within their institutions.

Behind the Scenes with WPSP Director Gwen K. Young

This 50/50 Day, the Women in Public Service Project hosted a conversation about the policies and best practices government leaders can use to drive gender parity within their countries and around the world. A panel of global voices discussed challenges and opportunities in transforming commitment into action for a more equal world.


The Women in Public Service Project is pursuing the goal of 50x50: women holding 50% of policy and political leadership positions - worldwide - by 2050.

Director, Gwen K. Young

"Of the ten quality that the World Economic Forum says you have to have as a leader, women, mothers and caregivers in the home have seven of those ten qualities."

"Not only is this glass ceiling how high women rise, but it's where women are in government. So women often end up in health and education, they don't end up over in the Department of Defense, so we call this the 'glass walls.'" 

Kirsten Hillman

"No matter to what degree to which you feel that you're a leader a conscious person with respect to gender issues or diversity issues, they run so much deeper than we ever really realize, and you have to get into the habit of self-checking."

"I think, often, women just do not give themselves enough credit they do not push themselves forward, and it's not only us as women leaders who have to help each other do that, but it's the male leaders who have to say, 'yes, I mean you, I don't mean this guys, I don't mean your husband, I mean you. And you can do it, and we need you."

Jessica Leslie

"We have to address an environment where women can take leadership positions, but in which they can thrive in those positions. And so that also means empowering women throughout the cycle of their life, and so looking at not just laws and policies that affect women and girls but those institutions and the social norms that allow gender inequity to exist and to persist. And that means addressing everything from girls' education or women's economic empowerment, or looking at the issue of gender-based violence."

"If one in three women around the world experience some form of intimate partner violence or sexual violence by a non-partner in their lifetime, that creates huge barriers to women's leadership."

Pelle Sjoenell

"I pledged--I think it was about a year ago--to never be on a panel without a woman on it."

"There are not that many firewomen, but a lot of firemen. Why is it only a dream for men, why is it supposed to be like that? We're as affected by fire, why is only one supposed to save?"

Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield 

"You never ever hear, when there's a room full of men, that it's a problem that there are no women. No man will say, 'I can't choose, as a deputy, another man because people will feel funny about it. And so we as women have to be conscious that there is nothing wrong with having a room full of women, if that's what you have."

"Sometimes with women, there's always this sense that, well, they're not ready, so let's just put them on the list and start preparing them to get ready. You never hear that when you look at men on a list, that they're not ready."

"You can't just sit quietly and say, 'hmm, I'm the only woman in this room.' You say it at the table. You say it in front of the audience." 


"While understanding that women’s access to employment and entrepreneurial activities is related to many factors, the data in this report illustrate how laws and regulations limit women’s economic participation.

From the outset, the purpose of the Women, Business and the Law report has been to inform research and policy discussions on how laws and regulations influence women’s economic activity. This has largely occurred. From comprehending the importance of family law to women’s economic decision-making to recognizing the effect of violence against women on their employment opportunities, Women, Business and the Law has contributed to a better understanding of why legal gender equality matters.

But not enough has been done to reach legal gender equality. Many laws prevent women from working or running a business. For example, 104 economies still have laws preventing women from working in specific jobs, 59 economies have no laws on sexual harassment in the workplace, and in 18 economies, husbands can legally prevent their wives from working. What effect do laws like these have on women’s economic choices?

More research and evidence are needed to understand the effects of laws and regulations on women’s entrepreneurship and employment so that policymakers can better understand which policies to promote. Women, Business and the Law builds on a growing body of research that stresses the importance of laws in shaping women’s economic opportunities and improving gender equality. Research has called into question the notion that economic growth alone increases gender equality. Rather, continuous policy commitments to gender equality are required to achieve it."

Quoted text from the publication (p. 1-2). 


Former Minister of Justice, Republic of Liberia
Counselor Tah

Counselor Christiana Tah's Story

Counselor Christiana Tah is the former Attorney General/Minister of Justice (2009-2014) of the Republic of Liberia and has previously held roles in the Ministries of Health, Justice and Finance in Liberia during the late 1970s and mid-1980s. During most of the 1990s, she donated her time and expertise to various immigration advocacy groups in the United States. Amongst her many functions as Attorney General, Counselor Tah supervised the Special Unit established in 2008 to prosecute gender-based violence, a malady that is very pervasive in a post-conflict environment. She holds a graduate degree in law from Yale University, and a Master of Arts degree in Sociology and Criminal Justice from Kent State University, and served as a Professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice for more than 15 years in the United States while simultaneously practicing law in the State of Maryland. She has returned to private practice.


Taking the opportunity provided by its 2017 review of political party strengthening, "Reflect, Reform, Re-engage: A Blueprint for 21st Century Parties," NDI has revised its long-standing Win With Women political party assessment tool, including by adding guidance on measuring levels of and dealing with the violence that women members face within their parties. The No Party to Violence: Political Party Assessment includes survey, focus group and in-depth interview tools to be used with women and men in the leadership and membership of parties in order to develop action plans to root out the violence targeting women within their own political party.

Over the last year, this new approach has been piloted with a number of the larger political parties and civil society in Côte d’Ivoire, Honduras, Tanzania and Tunisia. The outcomes from this piloting represent the first assessment of women party members’ experiences of violence within political parties, thus providing important new insights on the phenomenon, which has never been systematically studied previously. It offers a unique cross-country analysis of the current understandings and perceptions of men and women party members around the types, levels, and impact of violence against women within these institutions. This important information is being used to create party- and country-specific recommendations to improve awareness, action and accountability to end violence against women within political parties, thereby strengthening women’s membership and their roles on a basis of enhanced equality. The piloting process has also created a safe space for multi-party dialogue in ways which have not exposed any party to the political risk of negative commentary from the issue being aired in public and/or used by their competitors.

This report provides a preliminary analysis of the topline findings from the surveys of men and women party members in the four countries. This briefing will be followed by an analysis of the accompanying focus group and in-depth interviews that were carried out as part of the No Party to Violence: Political Party Assessment pilots.




Women are underrepresented in virtually every international body responsible for adjudicating, monitoring, and developing international law. As of February 2017, three of the 15 judges on the International Court of Justice are women; the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea has 21 judges, only one of whom is a woman; and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia has no permanent women judges.1 Additionally, women comprise no more than 30% of the aggregate of the members of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the Committee against Torture.2 States are ultimately responsible for this state of affairs. This working paper analyzes the extent to which international human rights law and standards support the GQUAL Campaign’s call for States to pledge to achieve gender parity on international courts and monitoring bodies.



Edited by:


The United States has fallen behind most established democracies with respect to women’s representation in politics. Women remain underrepresented at the federal, state, and local levels. The current uptick in women running for office, while encouraging, is unlikely to close this gender gap. To accelerate the pace of progress, U.S. reformers could learn from European experiences and push for measures that tackle broader institutional barriers to equal political representation.

A Transatlantic Perspective

  • In the United States, women generally win elections at the same rate as men—but they are less likely to run for office. The majoritarian electoral system, a strong incumbency advantage, gender-specific fundraising hurdles, and weaknesses in party recruitment reinforce this imbalance.
  • In contrast, in many European democracies, proportional representation rules, party-driven candidate selection, and public election financing have provided a more conducive institutional context for women’s advancement. Several European parliaments have also taken first steps to take stock of and improve internal measures of gender equality.
  • In addition, European gender equality advocates have successfully lobbied for party-level gender quotas and targets to ensure the systematic recruitment of female candidates. After initial pushback, parties accepted these measures largely due to high levels of internal and external pressure as well as strategic electoral calculations.

Steps to Ensure Equal Access to Political Office in the United States

  • Expand ranked-choice voting in multimember districts—beginning at the municipal and state levels—to push party officials to recruit a more diverse slate of candidates and weaken the incentives for negative campaigning.
  • Institute mandatory or voluntary recruitment targets for political parties and well-resourced party mechanisms to identify, recruit, and support women candidates—particularly at the primary stage and in open-seat races. This step would signal high-level commitment to gender parity and ensure the continuous recruitment of qualified female candidates.
  • Establish gender parity targets for political action committees and provide fundraising support to female candidates in primary campaigns to help overcome current inequities in candidate financing, particularly on the Republican side. In the longer run, shifting to public financing at the local level may also benefit women candidates and candidates of color.
  • Collect systematic data on gender equality and women’s experiences to identify current barriers to women’s advancement in Congress, state legislatures, and executive branches of government.
  • Advocate for internal gender equality plans that set out specific commitments to make legislatures and other branches of government more gender-sensitive—for example, by improving sexual harassment accountability procedures and prioritizing gender parity in leadership posts and committee assignments.



Edited by:


International Courts and the African Woman Judge: Unveiled Narratives

Time and Place

4th Floor, The Wilson Center

Follow the conversation


Event Details

International courts play an important role as arenas where judicial decisions can produce lasting effects on the lives of global citizens. The book International Courts and the African Woman Judge: Unveiled Narratives edited by WPSP Global Fellow Dr. Josephine Dawuni and The Honorable Akua Kuenyehia examines the often misunderstood, overlooked and underrated contributions of African women to the global discourse on feminism, global justice, international courts and international organizations.

Using legal narratives and in-depth exploration of seven women judges, the book debunks existing misconceived notions of the individual and personal agency of the African woman. This book launch event featured Dr. Josephine Dawuni, Nienke Grossman, Dr. Rachel Ellett, and Counselor Christiana Tah, and spoke to the inspirational stories of African women judges on international courts.

The panel discussion focused on the impact women judges can have on international courts, the barriers they face to take the bench, and the importance of diversity in the judiciary, not just in Africa, but all over the world.

Following the event, Minister Christiana Tah sat down with WPSP Director Gwen K. Young on the She is One podcast to discuss her experiences driving change in Liberia through her work in the judiciary system. Click here to listen to the podcast.


Key Quotes

Dr. Josephine Dawuni, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Howard University

"Why are we looking at African women judges? Why not the fact that she is a judge, she is qualified, she can do it. Legal Narratives help us understand their trajectory to the international bench."

"The data tells it all. The ICC has the highest number of women on any international court, particularly African women have had the highest representation on the international criminal court."

"After looking at the development [of women in domestic courts] the issue of women judges at the international level had not been explored despite women rising within the ranks of the judiciary on the continent of Africa."

Dr. Rachel Ellett, Associate Professor if Political Science, Beloit College

"It is well-documented that women lack access to the informal networks, the 'boys clubs' to access opportunity."

"We need to discuss the role of interest groups in supporting or opposing the elevation of women to the courts."

"Moving forward we need to look more at the informal rules and networks, especially looking at allies and what it means to be an ally."

Nienke Grossman, Professor of Law, University of Baltimore School of Law

"[Quoting Her Excellency Julia Sebutinde] Women bear a heavier burden as a result of conflict."

"[Quoting Her Excellency Julia Sebutinde] In a world where half of the population is female and the other half male, I would like to see 50% men and women on the world's international courts"

"The collection of narratives in this book elevates the discussion on the impact women can have on the bench at the international level."

Counselor Christiana Tah, Former Minister of Justice, Republic of Liberia

"We [women] want to participate, we want to be a part of the process."

"It's important to uplift African women, but it's not all about race, it's about uplifting all women."

"One of the things I always think about when discussing Africa and the judiciary is that you have to look at it as a dichotomy because of the history off colonization. How do you harmonize the two?"

Featured Speakers

U.S. Capitol

Setting the Stage for 2018: Will Women Move the Needle in the U.S. Midterm Elections?

Time and Place

6th Floor Auditorium, The Wilson Center

Follow the conversation



Event Details


2018 has already been hailed as a new “Year of the Woman.” Early evidence suggests that an unprecedented number of women are stepping up to run for office. As 2018 midterm elections approach, the country is asking: is this the year women leaders break through barriers to achieve higher representation in government?

The answer to this question is not simple. A wide range of factors, political and nonpolitical, will determine whether the thousands of women running can successfully navigate paths to leadership. Despite the increased interest in running for political office, many barriers remain to increasing representation on Capitol Hill where women are only 20% of lawmakers – and in the states, where there are only 6 female governors.

In celebration of International Women's Day, the Women in Public Service Project and POLITICO convened experts, strategists, and pollsters to decode the complex factors that influence women’s pathways to leadership and what this could mean for the U.S. midterm elections in November.

The two conversations highlighted the historic momentum of this election year.

Key Quotes

Opening Conversation: Updates from the Ground

Kelly Dittmar
Scholar, Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University

"Our numbers for women running… are 420 in the House, 50 running for the Senate, and for gubernatorial races, we are up to 80 potential women candidates. These are all record-setting."

"We have black women that are energized and ready to run, but they are often being pushed into majority-minority districts only and are not being looked at as a state-wide candidate."

"Many of these women [running for office] have been working at it, and so I hope we also tell those stories about what was the path, what sort of barriers did they break through already."

Emily Liner
Frontrunners Chair, She Should Run

"We are seeing women from every walk of life raise their hands and say that they want to run for office."

"Women everywhere are realizing that if they are the ones spotting the problems in their communities, they are the best positioned to create the change they wish to see."

"What we tell women is what you've done in your life already, that experience is what qualifies you to represent your communities"

Carol McDonald
Vice Chair, Board of Directors, Higher Heights for America

"I think [that] looking at what women are doing writ large… is a metric and is a barometer and it tells us something about where we are headed as a country."

"Of over the 12,000 people that have been elected to Congress… there have only been 38 black women that have served in that Congress, so we are making incremental gains there."

"We have to disaggregate what's happening within the different demographics among women voters, because it's not the same story."

Panel: Will Women Move the Needle in 2018?

Andrea Bozek
Senior Vice President, Mercury Buffalo

"As important as it is…to get women to run, we have to get women to win, and that is really difficult."

"I think that [the #MeToo Movement] is an opportunity for women to run, to be a voice for the movement on both sides of the aisle… and maybe we can get some more women in Congress because of it."

Missy Egelsky
Vice President, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research

"Women don’t necessarily vote for women candidates just because they’re women; it’s about their issues and agenda."

"People think that women [as] decision-makers... bring to government a different kind of attitude and willingness to work with people."

Margie Omero
Partner, GBA Strategies and Co-Host, "The Pollsters"

"Women candidates don’t need to be better than men candidates for us to say they deserve parity. They just deserve parity…We don’t need to lionize them as this superior class of candidates. They can be just as wonderfully flawed as everyone else."

"I think that we need to think about women candidates, women voters, and women’s issues… Bringing all of those together is what’s important for a woman to be successful in 2020."

"If you're really able to go and meet people, connect with them, have a story, an approach and set of issues, and make them feel you are on their side - you have a good shot whether you have 30 years of experience, five years, or zero."

This event hosted in partnership with:


header photo courtesy of Jim Horn via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Featured Speakers


In this study, the authors sought to "better understand how and where women entrepreneurs are innovating in Canada." The authors provide 11 key findings, which include topics on innovation and sustainability, indigenous women, incubators and accelerators, access to capital and grants, and mentoring networks. Through these findings, they recommend an "Inclusive Innovation Framework" that brings together Canada's feminist development policy and the private sector. 

The authors conclude that "[G]overnments, cities and financial institutions have both the opportunity and responsibility to include and support women entrepreneurs by developing inclusive innovation policy and programs that enable all innovation, no matter what sector, to be supported and recognized." 



Edited by:

Executive Director of Carleton University Centre for Women in Politics and Public Leadership
Entrepreneur, Speaker, Startup Canada Ambassador for Women Entrepreneurs
Municipal Councillor for the City of Gatineau, PhD candidate at Carleton University
Ameenah Gurib-Fakim

H.E. President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim 's Story

Ameenah Gurib-Fakim has been, prior to joining the State House, the Managing Director of the Centre International de Développement Pharmaceutique (CIDP) Research and Innovation as well as Professor of Organic Chemistry with an endowed chair at the University of Mauritius. Since 2001, she has served successively as Dean of the Faculty of Science and Pro Vice Chancellor (2004-2010). She has also worked at the Mauritius Research Council as Manager for Research (1995-1997).

Ms Gurib-Fakim earned a BSc in Chemistry from the University of Surrey, UK (1983), and a PhD from the University of Exeter (1987), at which time she began working at the University of Mauritius. Between 1987 and 1992, she served as Project Leader for the first Regional Research Project on the Inventory and Study of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants of the Indian Ocean funded by the European Development Fund under the aegis of the Indian Ocean Commission. During 2000-2002, she served as the National Coordinator for the ‘Indian Ocean University’ funded by the European Union.

She has participated in several consultation meetings on environmental issues organized by international organisations such as the World Bank, SIDA, CIDA, EU and UN amongst others. Between 2011 and 2013, she was elected and served as Chairperson of the International Council for Scientific Union – Regional Office for Africa.

She has also served as an Independent Director on the Board of Barclays Bank of Mauritius Ltd between 2012 and 2015.

As a Founding Member of the Pan African Association of African Medicinal Plants, she co-authored the first ever African Herbal Pharmacopoeia. She has authored and/or co-edited 28 books and several book chapters and scientific articles in the field of biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. She has lectured extensively across the world and is a Member of the Editorial Boards of major journals, has served on Technical Committees in various capacities, including the Chair of several National Committees in Mauritius.

Ms Gurib-Fakim has been elected Fellow of the Linnean Society of London in 2007, Fellow of the Islamic Academy of Science, Jordan, in 2009, and Fellow of the African Science Institute in 2010 and the African Academy of Sciences. Ms Gurib-Fakim received the 2007 L’Oréal-UNESCO Prize for Women in Science and Laureate of the National Economic and Social Council. She is recipient of the special prize from the CTA/NEPAD/AGRA/RUFORUM and the African Union Commission Award for Women in Science, both in 2009.

Dr (Mrs) Gurib-Fakim, was elevated to the Order of the Commander of the Star and Key by the Government of Mauritius in 2008, and admitted to the Order of the Order of the Chevalier de L’Ordre des Palmes Académiques by the Government of France in 2010, and received DSc from the Université Pierre et Marie Curie (Sorbonne Université), Paris, France in 2013 and from Greenwich University Pakistan (2015).

In 2014, Dr (Mrs) Gurib-Fakim became the first Mauritian to address the prestigious TEDGlobal Conference in Rio de Janeiro. On 05 June 2015, Dr (Mrs) Gurib-Fakim was sworn in as the 6th President and the First Female President of the Republic of Mauritius. She was elevated to the Order of GCSK by the Government of Mauritius and received the Legion d’Honneur from the Government of France in 2016.


“Turning promises into action: Gender equality in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, UN Women’s new flagship report, provides a comprehensive and authoritative assessment of progress, gaps and challenges in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from a gender perspective. The report monitors global and regional trends in achieving the SDGs for women and girls based on available data, and provides practical guidance for the implementation of gender-responsive policies and accountability processes. As a source of high-quality data and policy analysis, the report is a key reference and accountability tool for policymakers, women’s organizations, the UN system, and other stakeholders.

This report lays the basis for robust, gender-responsive monitoring of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by:

  • showing how gender equality is central to the achievement of all 17 SDGs and arguing for an integrated and rights-based approach to implementation;
  • explaining gender data gaps and challenges for robust monitoring and establishing starting points and trends across a range of gender-related indicators based on available data;
  • providing concrete guidance on policies to achieve two strategic targets under SDG 5 (violence and unpaid care) and outlining how these policies are synergistic with other goals and targets; and
  • setting an agenda for strengthening accountability for gender equality commitments at global, regional, and national levels.
President, The Freimuth Group

Ladeene Freimuth's Story

Ms. Freimuth is the founder and President of a domestic and international energy and environmental firm, The Freimuth Group. She has worked in the U.S. Congress, the Executive Branch, and at domestic and international consulting firms and non-governmental organizations. She has advised Fortune 500 companies on energy and sustainability issues and successfully overseen and implemented a life-saving waste management project in Russia. As the Deputy Director of EcoPeace/Friends of the Earth Middle East, she managed transboundary water projects. Her focus on international women’s issues spans from Russia to Israel and Kosovo.

She possesses Russian, French and Hebrew language skills. She received a B.A. in Government from Wesleyan University, and an M.A.L.D. from Tufts’ Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, which included one semester at the Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). She served as a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations, including on its Advisory Committee.


Published by The Female Quotient

“What we’re trying to measure is how much formal and how much enacted power women hold…what’s really important in the gender space is the informal or enacted powers: How do people perceive you? Do you use your power? Are you an effective leader in your field?”

Gwen K. Young, Director of the Global Women's Leadership Initiative and the Women in Public Service Project, contributed to this issue.

The Female Quotient created The Modern Guide to Equality to accelerate the change in the workplace we want. Together with partners, Atlantic Media Strategies and Catalyst, it addresses the problem holistically, combining generational insights, workplace trends, and interviews with industry leaders to develop a toolkit and corporate workshops with next-step actions for change.

Of course, this is just the start. The Modern Guide to Equality is a living and breathing playbook. A playbook powered by collaboration with industry leaders, business experts and employees at every level of the corporate pipeline working together to disrupt the current work culture, activate next step solutions, and create accountability standards for progress.




Though the defense ministry has been a bastion of male power, a growing number of states have appointed women to this portfolio. What explains men's dominance over these positions? Which factors predict women's appointments? With comprehensive cross-national data from the post–Cold War era, we develop and test three sets of hypotheses concerning women's access to the defense ministry. We show that women remain excluded when the portfolio's remit reinforces traditional beliefs about the masculinity of the position, particularly in states that are engaged in fatal disputes, governed by military dictators, and large military spenders. By contrast, female defense ministers emerge when expectations about women's role in politics have changed—that is, in states with female chief executives and parliamentarians. Women are also first appointed to the post when its meaning diverges from traditional conceptions of the portfolio, particularly in countries concerned with peacekeeping and in former military states with left-wing governments.



Edited by:

International Communications Executive

Neneh Diallo's Story

Neneh Diallo is an entrepreneur, seasoned communications executive and a change agent for women’s empowerment.

Her entrepreneurial creativity brings value to the public and private sector clients who consult her expertise to steer their strategic communications, event planning and media relations. In addition, she owns and manages a boutique hotel & suites property in West Africa.

Her strategic communications consulting work builds on more than 15 years of experience leading multi-disciplinary global teams to produce large-scale events and communications campaigns on such themes as health, energy, climate change, agriculture, conflict security, and private sector investment. Neneh served as the Director of Communications at the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a flagship U.S. Government agency dedicated to the fight against global poverty. In defining that role, Neneh was the key public affairs liaison to the head of the U.S. Government’s delegation to the OECD Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, Korea. She organized high-level summits during United Nations General Assembly meetings involving such distinguished leaders as then Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and President Joyce Banda of Malawi. She has worked on women’s and girls issues throughout her career including events with First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House and a Capitol Hill event hosted by Representative Nita Lowey. She has partnered with such key stakeholders as UNDP, the United Nations Foundation, the World Bank, InterAction, Oxfam, and USAID on public policy events to influence the global development agenda.

And as a daughter, sister, wife and mother, Neneh is passionate about ensuring every woman has a seat at the table and a chance to be heard. She is part of the Advisory Council of the Wilson Center’s Women in Public Service Project. She serves on the boards of Memunatu Magazine, a nonprofit social enterprise committed to empowering young girls across Africa, and Runway Moms for a Cause Foundation, which supports women and children in marginalized communities.


In March 2014, at the International Women’s Day Forum at the United Nations, the Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative at Harvard Kennedy School (CSRI) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Corporate Citizenship Center (CCC) made a joint commitment to convene a series of roundtable dialogues to explore the role of corporations in supporting women’s economic empowerment. Each invitation-only roundtable was comprised of 15 to 20 senior managers at major multinational corporations currently engaged in or interested in women’s economic empowerment as a business case and/or a social venture.

The companies spanned industry sectors and their participants represented various functional areas within their organizations. Expert presenters joined each session to provide further thought leadership and to challenge the group to identify ways that each company, alone or in partnership, could most effectively engage. Use of the Chatham House rule enabled candid dialogue, with the aim of facilitating shared learning and establishing or strengthening relationships and specific partnerships. The content of the roundtables informed this framing report and its affiliated briefs.

The report concludes with an Agenda for Action, which offers companies and their public sector, NGO, and civil society partners recommendations for ways forward on the global path to women’s economic empowerment.



Edited by:

Government of Australia

Minister of Women's Story

Office for Women, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Australia

Deborah Birx

DREAMS, Gender Innovations, and Results

Time and Place

6th Floor Auditorium, The Wilson Center

Event Details

Driven by evidence, PEPFAR began the innovative DREAMS program in 2014 to reduce the rates of HIV infections among adolescent girls in Sub-Saharan Africa. PEPFAR recognized the need for a holistic gender approach that addressed young women's lack of decision making power. Topics like gender-based violence, child marriage, and girls education had to be part of the effort. Ambassador Deborah Birx and an expert panel will discuss exciting results from the field and how integrated gender approaches are producing results for DREAMS and other important programs. 

Join the Wilson Center and Plan International on January 31 for a fascinating discussion on the results of DREAMS, its implications for adolescent girls, and new gender-based approaches to global health interventions.  

Media guests, including TV crews, are welcome and should RSVP directly to Media bringing heavy electronics MUST indicate this in their response so they may be cleared through our building security and allowed entrance. 

Want to attend but can't? Tune into the live or archived webcast at (not every event is webcast live; archived webcasts go up approximately one day after the meeting date).

Join the conversation on Twitter by following @NewSecurityBeat and find related coverage on our blog at 

Featured Speakers


The Global Report is comprised of the Top 200 companies, insights per sector and country as well as key findings on gender equality. Equileap ranked over 3,000 companies based on 19 criteria covering leadership, career development, work-life balance, equal pay, family leave, as well as health & safety.




When roughly 94% of Fortune 1000 chief executive officers (CEOs) are men, what qualities drive the 6% who are women to the most elite reaches of corporate leadership?

To find out, the Korn Ferry Institute studied 57 women who have been CEO—38 currently and 19 previously—at Fortune 1000-listed companies and others of similar size. We analyzed structured interviews with all 57 women and the results of psychometric assessments taken by two-thirds of them.




The 2015 OECD Recommendation of the Council on Gender Equality in Public Life promotes a government-wide strategy for gender equality reform, sound mechanisms to ensure accountability and sustainability of gender initiatives, and tools and evidence to inform inclusive policy decisions. It also promotes a “whole-of-society” approach to reducing gender stereotypes, encouraging women to participate in politics and removing implicit and explicit barriers to gender equality. This Recommendation is unique, as it provides not only governments, but also parliaments and judiciaries, with clear, timely and actionable guidelines for effectively implementing gender equality and gender mainstreaming initiatives, and for improving equal access to public leadership for women and men from diverse backgrounds.


Business Manager, Graham Group
Alex Robinson

Alex Robinson's Story

Alex is currently employed as the Business Development Manager at Graham Construction and Engineering. He has over 30 years of diverse, volunteer, government and private sector senior experience gained through positions as the Vice President of Planning and Development at the Winnipeg Airport Authority and the Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Winnipeg.

Alex’s educational background consists of degrees in Engineering and City Planning from the University of Manitoba where he was awarded the Mayor’s Medal for Significant Contributions to Urban Affairs. He is also an alumnus of the Harvard Kennedy School where he is currently a member of the Dean’s Executive Council.

His political experience ranges from being the Mayor of Winnipeg’s senior political advisor to participating in numerous Canadian local, provincial and federal election campaigns. Alex was also a volunteer in the 2012 Presidential Election Campaign for Barack Obama. He is currently a Fundraising Co-Chair for the Federal Liberal Party and has also volunteered for various cultural, community and educational groups ranging from the Winnipeg Art Gallery to Harvard University.


"Incorporating gender considerations in international development programming has the potential to accelerate positive normative and economic changes at the country and project levels. In addition to the intrinsic value of advancing gender equality, gender mainstreaming can result in significant economic gains. An International Monetary Fund report concluded that closing gender gaps in the labor market could boost GDP, from a five-percent increase in the United States to a 34-percent gain in Egypt (Elborgh-Woytek et al., 2013). Similarly, investing in gender equality in education has long-term impacts such as reducing high fertility rates, lowering child mortality rates, and improving women’s labor force participation and earnings (Klasen, 1999). On average, when 10 percent more girls go to school, a country’s GDP increases by three percent (USAID, 2015). Reducing gender gaps shows huge potential for accelerating economic development.

As this report demonstrates, there are significant interactions between gendered norms, gender gaps, and international development projects. Integrating gendered impacts in cost-benefit or costeffectiveness analyses (CBA or CEA) presents opportunities for gender advocates to build rigorous evidence about the impact of advancing gender equality and for CBA practitioners to capture a more accurate picture of project impacts."



Edited by:


Watch the launch event at the Wilson Center

While men still dominate leadership roles within national and international security structures, they have remained on the sidelines of the Women, Peace and Security movement. With the increasing awareness of the Women, Peace and Security mandates in countries around the world, men who are personally moved by this agenda are stepping forward as supporters and contributors. Between December 2016 and July 2017, Our Secure Future conducted more than 50 semi-structured interviews by Skype and phone for this project, and more than 20 survey responses were collected and analyzed. The majority of participants in this study are men between the ages of 30 and 50 who work on conflict or development portfolios. Participants are from or reside in the US, Afghanistan, Austria, Australia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cameroon, Canada, France, Mexico, Nigeria, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Collectively, their work experience spans Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Europe.

One of the key reasons for embarking upon this study was to better understand the factors and motivations that lead certain men to internalize this agenda personally and to promote it professionally. The experiences shared by male champions showed that the personal and the political are, in fact, deeply connected. The interviews demonstrate that exposure to gender frameworks, and the real-life repercussions of gender equality, can help men overcome gender-blindness, which in turn will
start to shift ingrained biases in institutions and processes.



Edited by:

Director, Our Secure Future: Women Make the Difference
Consultant, Our Secure Future: Women Make the Difference
Nancy Walker

Dr. Nancy J. Walker's Story

Dr. Nancy J. Walker’s government career included serving as the founding Director of Africa Center for Strategic Studies at NDU, Director of the Office of African Affairs and UN Branch Chief at the Office of Peacekeeping at DoD. Dr. Walker was the first Director of the Atlantic Council’s Ansari Africa Center. She has taught U.S. Foreign Policy at the Elliot School at GWU, National Security Decision Making at Bilkent University (Ankara), and African Studies at Ankara University, as well as guest lecturing in the U.S., Europe, and Africa. In 2013, Dr. Walker established Nancy’s Wonderful Women to provide mentoring and leadership development opportunities for women across generations and professional fields. She has a D.Phil. in politics from Oxford University and an A.B. from Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges, was a Bosch Fellow in Germany and completed MIT Seminar XXI program in National Security. Nancy speaks fluent German and French, conversational Spanish and Turkish. A member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Women’s Foreign Policy Group, among others, Dr. Walker serves on the Advisory Council of the Wilson Center’s Africa Program and other boards. Dr. Walker was awarded the Order of the Lion from the Government of Senegal in recognition of her contribution to U.S.-Africa relations.


A sequel to Bauer and Dawuni's pioneering study on gender and the judiciary in Africa (Routledge, 2016), International Courts and the African Woman Judge examines questions on gender diversity, representative benches, and international courts by focusing on women judges from the continent of Africa.

Drawing from postcolonial feminism, feminist institutionalism, feminist legal theory, and legal narratives, this book provides fresh and detailed narratives of seven women judges that challenge existing discourse on gender diversity in international courts. It answers important questions about how the politics of judicial appointments, gender, geographic location, class, and professional capital combine to shape the lives of women judges who sit on international courts and argues the need to disaggregate gender diversity with a view to understanding intra-group differences.

International Courts and the African Woman Judge will be of interest to a variety of audiences including governments, policy makers, civil society organizations, students of gender studies, and feminist activists interested in all questions of gender and judging.



Edited by:

Girls Guiding Government: Mentor Testimonials

GGBCThe Girls Guiding Government Program, a partnership with the Global Give Back Circle, empowers the next generation of women leaders in Kenya and Rwanda through mentorship, training, and community service.

Learn more about the Girls Guiding Government Program here.

Betty Adera

Chief of Party, DREAMS Program Global Communities

Betty AderaThe day Nelly was assigned to me as my mentee, I knew right there that God had given me the daughter I never had being a mother of two young men. In the short time that I have known and mentored her, Nelly has brought so much joy, fulfillment and enrichment to me also. In some instances, it felt like she was actually the one mentoring me! She has also provided me with innovative ideas on how to better support and more positively engage with young people in my networks in Kenya, especially during the long and challenging political/electioneering period. Nelly’s drive to succeed in life and make a difference in her school, community and country gave me great impetus as her mentee to also put in extra effort towards my own dream of running for public office come 2022. As Nelly plans to visit me and my family in December 2017 after she clears school, she will not only bring Rwanda to us in Nairobi, Kenya but will also be able to share with us her strengths, aspirations, and fears with us and together strengthen this relationship beyond the Program. I am committed to follow through with Nelly in her after years and be a part of her life always as she thinks through her career and relationships. Many thanks to the Global Give Back Circle - Girls Guiding Government Program for letting Nelly into my life as you continue to do the same for millions of other girls around the world.

Violet Akurut Adome

Member of Parliament, Uganda

Violet Akurut AdomeI have been a mentor in the Global Give Back Circle – Girls Guiding Government Program for the last two years, where I had the opportunity to mentor Precious – a student from Starehe Girls’ Centre in Nairobi, Kenya. I must say it was a wonderful experience, constantly I was in touch with my mentee, thanks to the program Coordinator who kept reminding me to write to my mentee, even a midst my tight schedule doing my parliamentary work, I had to take a side time to write and guide Precious and she constantly wrote back to me thanking me for guiding her and for being her role model. She looked forward to becoming what I am and achieving her life's goals, she was inspired after I shared with her my own life experience coming from a humble background, yet was able to join schools, which were a preserve for the privileged. My school experience, work and family gave Precious more encouragement to work so hard at school, she pledged to revise her books, attend class and be obedient and respectful to her elders and colleagues, but above all trust in her God for everything was possible with him.

I guided her on how to write a policy statement and how to present it, and I guided her on how to write and pass examinations, to this she promised to do her best and I want to believe with the confidence this program has instilled on the girls who had the chance to be mentored, they shall surely pass with very good grades compared to their counterparts who were not in the program.

I must say this program enabled me to provide career guidance to Precious by the time she joins higher institution she would be focused on what she wants to be in future and on strategies of arriving to that goal.

This program opened a window for us mentors to make presentations to our mentees at the Global Give Back Circle – Girls Guiding Government Conference - this too provided exposure to us to get to know one another and share our experience of mentorship with one another.

In conclusion, I would like to thank more sincerely Lidemta and her team at the Global Give Back Circle - Girls Guiding Government Program for the work well done and for such a wonderful, but rare program and recommend for its expansion and continuity. I want to pledge to continue being in touch with Precious and to guide and mentor more girls given the opportunity.

Bravo to the Wilson Centre and Global Give Back Circle, I am sure with such guidance to the young girls at an early age through to their education path, we shall achieve 50x50 women in public service by 2050.

Kateryna Busol

Legal Associate, Global Rights Compliance

Kateryna BusolAlthough I decided to become a mentor because of my willingness to share and help, I soon realised that, perhaps, I needed my mentee even more than she needed me.

The girl from post-genocide Rwanda has much to discuss with and, in fact, teach a young woman from war-stricken Ukraine: the defiance in the face of circumstances, the belief in the power of self, and in the importance of the community, the individual responsibility for one's personal development from as early as school for the sake of the more sustainable collective future - within our neighbourhoods, counties, states, regions and the larger world.

Mentorship is a unique experience of a dialogue of hearts: sharing your stories, you realise that you already share much. I wish I could inspire my mentee as much as she inspires me. Thanks to her and to this Programme in general, I am now contemplating launching a similar mentorship initiative in Ukraine.

If mentorship teaches us anything, it is the realisation that we can help much more than we thought we could. It is truly empowering. For both sides.

Bonnie Edwards-Jackson

Finance, U.S. Department of Agriculture - Rural Development

In 2016, I was selected to participate in the Global Give Back Circle – Girls Guiding Government Program, a partnership between the Global Give Back Circle and the Wilson Center’s Women in Public Service Project, and was matched to a young girl name Mary who resides in Kenya.

Mary applied to the Program to obtain assistance with her dream of serving as a great leader in her country by using her interest in finance and mathematics to one day become a cabinet secretary of finance in Kenya. I applied to serve as a mentor with the Program to provide support to an adolescent girl who desires to successfully transition from secondary school into a public sector career.

As her mentor, she and I communicated monthly via written letter correspondence sharing information about life challenges and experiences. Throughout her school year Mary and her classmates attended leadership workshops to strengthen and build future leadership skills. Upon learning of her attendance at the workshops, I always asked her what she learned and how she planned to apply what she learned as a future leader.

At present, Mary has completed her final year in high school and plans to go to college to continue her education. I trust that she and I will continue to stay in contact.

My experience as a mentor has been extremely positive and I strongly encourage any woman, who is interested in making a positive difference in an adolescent young lady’s life to become a mentor.

Gbemi Kehinde

Project Management Assistant, Peace and Governance Office, INGO (Abjua)

Gbemi KehindeI will forever be grateful to your team for the opportunity given to me to mentor Anna. We had a vibrant relationship because Anna was willing to be mentored, she was willing to share her dreams, fears, anticipation, and agitation with me and I was grateful to be available through her emotions. In some instances, I had to make personal calls to her to empathize, calm her fears, and raise her confidence. She sure is a keeper. I will always be there to build her up and not put her down as I realize I have been in her age before, and I didn’t want her to go through what I experienced for lack of mentoring when I was her age. It can be scary and overwhelming when you don’t know what the future holds. Anna was always ready to share all that she learnt with me. We also discussed at length about giving back to the society, as most girls won’t have the opportunity she had with the Global Give Back Circle. Above all, we both enjoyed ourselves and were always looking forward to reading from each other.

Johanna Papa

PSC Contract Specialist, Macfadden & Associates, USAID - Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI)

Johanna PapaAs a mentor to my dear friend Wairimu Sylvie, a young leader from Rwanda, I conclude that this journey has been an exemplary learning experience for both of us. The Global Give Back Circle has created a platform for empowerment, excellence, and diversity. It is our duty, as women, to empower each other and I am grateful to be a part of this movement.

It has been an honor to mentor Wairimu and I remain committed in sharing my knowledge and experience. Thank you for this opportunity.



Donna Stauffer

USAID Contractor - Senior Advisor, Foreign Service Center (FSC), USAID

Donna StaufferBeing a mentor in the Global Give Back Circle has been a thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding experience. I look forward to my bi-weekly letters from my mentee with as much anticipation as I do with letters from close friends or pen pals of childhood. My mentee is enthusiastic, intelligent, highly motivated, and already an impressive leader within her school and her community. It is an honor to play even a small part in helping her realize her potential and achieve her dreams.


Philippa Sturm

Global Fellow, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and Professor Emerita, City University of New York

Philippa StrumIt was a joy to mentor Elizabeth Njoki this year. Some of the questions she asked about the possibility of women serving in public life reminded me of those asked not long ago by 18-year-olds in the United States; others were specific to her situation. I was glad to be able to offer her encouragement. I feel as if I got to know her family as well, and I share their pride in her graduation. I hope the experience was as helpful for her as it was fulfilling for me.



Pat Vinkenes

Senior Policy Analyst, Office of Management and Budget, United States

Pat VinkenesI signed up to mentor through the Global Give Back Circle on the strong recommendation of an old friend in the State Department, who has been involved and mentored several girls for years. Despite her recommendation, I wasn't sure exactly what to expect or what I had to offer. But, I have found this experience far more fulfilling that I ever imagined. The most important part is the ability to listen, encourage and empathize. Sometimes it is just being there. While trying to help my mentee stay motivated and handle the competing challenges of national exams and the uncertainty in her future, I learned more from her than she learned from me. I have a much better appreciation of the challenges and joys in her life. She is an absolute delight. As it happens my daughter is a high school senior and experiencing the same anxieties. The same recommendations for stress relief worked wonders for both; eating healthy, exercise, enough sleep, laughing with friends and reaching out when you need help. They are both smart, accomplished young women with great futures. Although my mentee just graduated from high school, finished her national exams and will soon enter college, we have agreed to continue to be in contact. Our goal is to meet one day. And I have asked to mentor another girl from the next class.

The program staff and other mentors were always ready to help with any question I had. They were particularly helpful when my mentee asked a question that I couldn't answer with research. I highly recommend this program.

Girls Guiding Government: Mentee Stories

GGBCThe Girls Guiding Government Program, a partnership with the Global Give Back Circle, empowers the next generation of women leaders in Kenya and Rwanda through mentorship, training, and community service.

Learn more about the Girls Guiding Government Program here.


Form 4 Student, Starehe Girls Centre

ElsyMy name is Elsy Makena. I was born in a small town in Meru and I am 18 years old. I have been living with my Aunt since I was five years old following the death of my father and mother.

I applied to the Global Give Back Circle - Girls Guiding Government after learning about the program in school and about its commitment to leadership and to ensuring women have the chance to pursue a career in public service. People say that very few people are born leaders, but in my gut, I believe I am destined to be a great leader. I obey authority, but I enjoy being a leader. At times, I think about the number of women we have in our country leading government, and I think about the fact that I live in a men dominated world. Thus, I joined the Global Give Back Circle - Girls Guiding Government Program with the aim to increase my passion for leadership, to gain skills to excel as a leader, and to potentially pursue a career in public service. 

When I joined the program, I was attached to my mentor, Melissa. She is a Diplomat, who relocated some months ago to Lesotho, a country in Africa. Melissa has been my stepping-stone and support system. She has been there for me since the start. Sometime back when I was in conflict with my Aunt, she was there to tell me how to go about it. At the same time, being a Diplomat is one of my dreams, and she has really inspired me. 

As a beneficiary of the Global Give Back Circle – Girls Guiding Government Program, I was so happy when I graduated from the program and was informed I would be receiving a scholarship to further my education at university. I had so many goals and dreams, but I did not know how they would become a reality. It is a dream come true to be awarded a scholarship to continue on to university.  

I would like to pursue International Relations, Political Science and/or a Bachelor of Commerce. My dream is to work with the United Nations before I join public service. I have admired a couple of the speakers, who have come to speak at the workshops, most especially during the April 2017 Global Give Back Circle – Future Political Leader’s Conference in Kenya. I was really inspired by them. I hope to go far with my goal of working in public service and also to increase the number of other women in public service as well. 


Form 4 Student, Starehe Girls' Centre

EstherMy name is Samantha and I am from Makueni County. I live with my Mum, after my Father left home when I was still young. I have one brother. He is a matatu conductor. I am fortunate that I am the first and only one in my family, who was given the chance to complete a high school education. The story about my background is what motivates me to work hard in my studies. My Mum, who has struggled to bring me up, has also been a great source of strength to me and she has enabled me to carry on.  

Being strong in life has enabled me to overcome many hurdles that have come my way. Being a leader in school, in particular, has built my resiliency. I had to be strong, and I always remained focused and committed to my goals, knowing that my decisions only needed to be right not popular. When I applied to join the Global Give Back Circle - Girls Guiding Government Program, I knew that I was going to gain a lot, as I had always been interested in public service. I have also wanted to help other girls in my community to pursue their education.  

I am really thankful for the opportunity to join the program, as I have gained a lot from the workshops and from my mentor. My mentor, Patricia Vinkenes, is from the United States of America. She writes to me weekly to check in on my progress, and she is always happy about my achievements. Patricia advises me and motivates me to always go for the best in life. 

This year, I was very excited to learn that I was awarded a full scholarship to the university. I aspire to do a course in finance and architecture, since I really love mathematics. I really want to take part in public service and fight for fifty percent women representation by 2050. After university, I would like to work in government, especially in the Ministry of Finance in order to contribute to the growth and development of our country.


Form 4 Student, Starehe Girls' Centre

RizikiI come from Mombasa, a coastal town in Kenya, and from a family of four; my parents, my brother and I. My mother sells second-hand clothes, while my father is a construction worker.

After my high school studies, I, however, would like to study Economics & Statistics and International Affairs. Equipped with this knowledge, I aspire to venture into diplomacy and the business world. I hope to do my career on a global platform. In the future, I would also like to work for the United Nations and thereafter, hopefully, be the Cabinet Secretary in charge of Foreign Affairs in my country. 

My mentor, Celine Bankumuhari, works with the OXFAM Foundation. She is a woman, who I really admire because she didn’t let the challenges in her life define who she is. Instead, she overcame them with courage, resilience and determination, which really inspires me.

I joined the Global Give Back Circle - Girls Guiding Government Program, to learn the ‘how, when, and why’ of leadership. Being a member of the program, and a student leader, taught me that it takes courage, sacrifice, patience, collaboration, and humility, to lead well. I believe the knowledge and skills I have been equipped with in the Global Give Back Circle - Girls Guiding Government Program will be useful in making the changes that I wish to see in the world. The election year in my country, Kenya, has enabled me to see that as a country we still have a long way to go. My vision for my country is to see an election, where people will vote based on the qualities and potential that a leader has to steer the country to greater heights, and not on the basis of their ethnic community, gender or political affiliations, as was the case with these elections. 

Year-to-date, my most memorable achievement was winning the Zayed Future Energy Prize, a global award. I hope to be a source of inspiration to many girls out there, who feel limited against leadership by the beliefs of our societies. 

Program Coordinator

Hakima Hakimi's Story

Hakima Hakimi is the Program Coordinator of the Global Women’s Leadership Initiative and Women in Public Service Project at the Wilson Center. As a professional Afghan who lived, studied and worked in conflict-affected areas, she brings extensive experience and understanding of development projects and how to influence and change individuals and communities.

Hakima has more than 10 years of experience working on international development projects. Prior to the Wilson Center, she worked with USAID Afghanistan managing projects totaling $100 million to support vulnerable groups including women, children and youth.

During her work with USAID Afghanistan, Hakima helped female graduates to join the public sector, in addition, she supported private sector actors to create more jobs for youth and enabled women-owned businesses to increase their income and have access to international markets.

In addition to her work with USAID, Hakima has worked with local NGOs as well as the National Democratic Institute (NDI). Hakima has trained and mentored civil society organizations, political parties, police officers, government officials and journalists on gender equality, child protection, human rights, domestic violence against women and workforce development.

Hakima graduated from Herat University, Afghanistan on law and political science in 2007.

Global Ambassador, Technovation and Deputy , UN High Level Panel, Women's Economic Empowerment

Anar Simpson's Story

Anar is a key influencer for Women, Girls and Technology. She led this initiative at Mozilla and was appointed as a Deputy to the UN High Level Panel on Women's Economic Empowerment. She is the Global Ambassador for Technovation - which is building a pipeline of young girls to enter STEM careers in over 100 countries. Anar works with governments, international agencies and technology companies on the digital inclusion of women. In addition she has been instrumental in the growth, outreach and experience of the US State Department’s TechWomen initiative which empowers, connects and supports the next generation of women leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) from Africa, Central and South Asia, and the Middle East with their counterparts in Silicon Valley.

She has been an invited speaker at IEEE Women in Engineering - International Leadership Conference, the Grace Hopper Conference, the Womens Forum Global summit, Mobile World Congress - Africa, UNESCO - Mobile Learning, WiSTEM, the White House Summit on the United State of Women etc.

Anar has a Bachelors degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Communications, University of Calgary and a graduate of Program in Innovation & Entrepreneurship at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University.

Anar has been recognized for her leadership and outstanding contribution to closing the industry gender gap by the University of Calgary as a Distinguished Alumni, UN Women and ITU GEM-Tech Award, GSMA Global Mobile Leadership Award for her leadership and outstanding contribution to closing the industry gender gap. In 2017 Anar was recognized as a Women of Influence by the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

Beyond the Numbers

Beyond the Numbers: The Leadership Index and Innovations Achieving Parity in Global Leadership

Time and Place

6th Floor Auditorium, The Wilson Center

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Event Details

Numbers matter in the global effort to gender parity - but so does transforming data into action.

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

On December 13, 2017, the Women in Public Service Project hosted a conversation with gender parity champions across sectors and issue areas exploring how key stakeholders can use tools like the Global Women's Leadership Initiative Index (The Leadership Index) to implement solutions to accelerate gender parity in leadership around the globe.

A series of panel discussions revealed innovative strategies to use the evidence base for women's leadership as a starting point to drive change at all levels of decision-making and across sectors.

Opening Speakers

The Honorable Jane Harman
Director, President and CEO, The Wilson Center

"This [the Leadership Index] matters a lot to me as a woman in public service, and it matters a lot to me as the leader of a think tank which didn't have a women's platform when I got here."

Gwen K. Young
Director, Global Women's Leadership Initiative and Women in Public Service Project, The Wilson Center

"We want to show why this matters, beyond the normative, beyond the numbers of 'women comprise 50.7% of the population,' but we want to show why it matters that women assume leadership positions."

Panel I: Data Empowering Global Leaders

Roz Brooks
Managing Director, Government, Regulatory Affairs and Public Policy, PriceWaterhouseCoopers

"Whether it's enabling things in the c-suite, [or] enabling things in public sector, it's all coming about the cultural public perception of how you view women in that space, and how you get there."

Curtis Etherly
Director of Diplomatic Relations, Coca-Cola

"Data matters ... data drives so much of what we do, and this kind of tool can help inform how we make decisions about the philanthropic aspect of our work to support this mission, as well as to continue to grow our business."

"We shouldn't be looking at gender parity, women in leadership in a vacuum and look at exclusive or distinct from other aspect of the inquiry ... there are political aspects to this conversation, there are legal, there's social and other policy aspects to this and it all becomes part of the same inquiry."

Dr. Katherine Fritz Director, ICRW Advisors,
International Center for Research on Women

"We have a lot of fantastic data coming out both from the private and the public sector on this and that’s incredibly important because it’s motivating and these kind of factoids that can be, you know, quickly bounced around are incredibly useful."

"We don’t have a lot of data on what works. There’s some experimentation going on and we need, there’s some natural experiments that are ripe for study and we’re currently missing out on, so I think that there’s a tremendous need for more investment in gathering the data that would help us understand that.”

Jennifer Windsor
Practice Lead, Senior Director, Gender and Social Inclusion, Millennium Challenge Corporation

"In terms of making sure that there is gender balance in employment and leadership ... you can see that it needs a lot more than policy support from the top. You need to be able to collect data as to what kind of gender representation is in there, where they could be, why they should get there, and then give them the tools to use that data and open up the system so that civil society actors can ... hold the government accountable."

Panel II: Data Innovating Social Change

Allyson Kapin
Co-Founder, Rad Campaign and Founder, Women Who Tech

"These aren't just statistics - it's trickling down into every area of our life: politics, the economy, our personal wealth. It's a huge story that needs to be told."

Kate McCarthy
Director of Programs, Women's Media Center

"Until you know the numbers, you don't know where you're starting and you don't know where you want to go."

"If you want to bring about change, you've got to be clear what that change is."

Jay Newton-Small
TIME Contributor and Author, Broad Influence: How Women are Changing the Way Washington Works

“I wanted to know how many women were sort of in the management level of the government, so you would think that would be a really easy question to ask, right? … It took me talking to all fifteen branches of the government, four labor unions, and the White House to figure out that the upper level civil service and political appointees were about thirty percent [women] in 2015, the time I was writing my book.”

“I think it’s amazing to think of women at this point in time, you know. It was economic necessity that brought us into the work force with Rosie the Riveters and I think it’ll be economic necessity that brings us fully into the workforce – at the very least to critical mass, if not approaching parity in the next ten years, which I think is awesome.”

Featured Speakers

Zaza Rising

Zaza Rising: Social Enterprise Development and Sustainability

Time and Place

5th Floor, The Wilson Center

Follow the conversation


Event Details

On December 5th, the Women in Public Service Project hosted the first-ever public screening of the film Zaza Rising.

Zaza rising

The documentary highlights Christine, a 34 year old teacher at a public high school in the rural town of Zaza, Rwanda. Christine started a bakery business in 2014 that employs HIV positive single mothers from the community.

Elizabeth Dettke"The original objective was to help the most vulnerable members of [Christine's] community in a way that was empowering"

- Elizabeth Dettke, Executive Producer

The bakery, when in operation, allows the women to double their monthly incomes consequently enabling them to pay for their children to go to school and substantially improving their standards of living.

Learn more about Christine's story and Zaza Rising's mission here.


Featured Speakers

Girls Guiding Government

Empowering the next generation of women leaders in Kenya and Rwanda in partnership with the Global Give Back Circle.

Learn More:

Mentee Stories | Mentor Testimonials | Become a Mentor

"People say that very few people are born leaders, but in my gut, I believe I am destined to be a great leader."

Elsy, Form 4 Student, Starehe Girls' Centre and Global Give Back Circle - Girls Guiding Government Mentee

3.jpgEvidence shows that women leaders have a positive impact on governance, economic growth, gender equality and inclusive sustainable development. When governments include women as legislators, they are often more sensitive to community needs, prioritizing issues such as education, health, and childcare.

Yet despite representing 49.7% of the global population, women hold only 23.5% of parliamentary seats as of 2017 and have never been the formal head of state in a majority of nations around the world.

"My vision for my country is to see an election where people will vote based on qualities and potential that a leader has to steer the country to greater heights, and not on the basis of their ethnic community, gender or political affiliations."

Riziki, Form 4 Student, Starehe Girls' Centre and Global Give Back Circle - Girls Guiding Government Mentee

In order for governments to comprehensively represent their electorates, women need an equal voice at the table. The mission of the Women in Public Service Project (WPSP) is to ensure that by 2050, 50% of government leadership positions are held by women. By acting as an information hub, working with institutions to achieve gender equality, and inspiring the next generation of women leaders, we are constantly working to make 50x50 a reality.

Guiding the Next Generation of Women Leaders

WPSP has partnered with the Global Give Back Circle (GGBC) – a US based non-profit organization – to empower and mentor at-risk high school girls in Rwanda and Kenya.

"The Global Give Back Circle has created a platform for empowerment, excellence, and diversity. It is our duty, as women, to empower each other and I am grateful to be a part of this movement."

Johanna Papa, PSC Contract Specialist, Macfadden & Associates, USAID – Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) and Global Give Back Circle - Girls Guiding Government Mentor

2.jpgThe project adopts a multifaceted approach through a structured long-distance, one-on-one mentoring model, monthly workshops aimed at inspiring and equipping adolescent girls to become effective and strong leaders, local community support, and an innovative employee engagement program which mobilizes scholarship funding from US corporate partners. In this way the Girls Guiding Government project empowers and equips girls with the skills to become successful public leaders while strengthening the leadership behaviors of the women who mentor them.

"I will always be there to build up [my mentee] and not put her down ... I didn't want her to go through what I experienced for lack of mentoring when I was her age."

Gbemi Kehinde, Project Management Assistant, Peace and Democratic Governance Office, INGO (Abuja) and Global Give Back Circle - Girls Guiding Government Mentor

Together we have matched and nurtured one hundred mentor-mentee relationships where mentors help at-risk adolescent girls in Kenya and Rwanda stay in school, recognize their rights, realize their skills and talents, and equip them with lifelong leadership skills. Mentors, in turn, are able to help train and reinforce their leadership skills.

"When I applied to the Girls Guiding Government Program, I knew that I was going to gain a lot, as I had always been interested in public service."

Esther, Form 4 Student, Starehe Girls' Centre and Global Give Back Circle - Girls Guiding Government Mentee

Such a program is particularly important in developing countries where only 39 percent of girls finish junior high school, despite enrolling in primary school at rates as high as 87 percent. Through workshops focusing on resilience, influencing others, listening, collaboration, and network building, girls are not just given a role model but are taught to learn and apply leadership skills to their everyday lives.

A Cycle of Leadership

The Girls Guiding Government mentorship model impacts two groups of beneficiaries: the girls (mentees) and their mentors who also grow through the journey of mentoring.

"I wish I could inspire my mentee as much as she inspires me."

Kateryna Busol, Legal Associate, Global Rights Compliance and Global Give Back Circle - Girls Guiding Government Mentor

Mentors help guide and equip the next generation of changemakers with the confidence, ability, and resources to pursue and succeed in political leadership and become the mentors of the next generation. The girls are then encouraged to practice and positively implement their newfound skills through weekly community give back activities in the areas of WASH (Water, Sanitation & Hygiene), Health, Education, the Environment, and Women & Girls.

"I look forward to my bi-weekly letters from my mentee with as much anticipation as I do letters from close friends or pen pals of childhood"

Donna Stauffer, USAID Contractor - Senior Advisor, Foreign Service Center (FSC), USAID and Global Give Back Circle - Girls Guiding Government Mentor

1.jpgThrough the practice of mentoring, the mentors are able to reinforce five core signifiers of leadership behavior; role modeling, people development, providing intellectual stimulation, facilitating efficient communication and being inspirational.

Many mentors are also able to engage in a new age of corporate social responsibility, if they work for companies that have corporate giving programs that matches employee volunteer hours with dollars. This gives mentors the freedom to turn ‘mentoring time’ into scholarship funding to offset the cost of their mentee’s education. Such a program is not only extremely rewarding for mentors, but valuable for companies who benefit from a more engaged group of employees, committed to social responsibility while strengthening their leadership skills.

"I was glad to be able to offer [my mentee] encouragement. I feel as if I got to know her family as well, and I share their pride in her graduation."

Philippa Strum, Global Fellow, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and Professor Emerita, City University of New York and Global Give Back Circle - Girls Guiding Government Mentor

Research indicates that companies with engaged employees have the ability to outperform those who do not have such a program by up to 202%. Thus, such a program has the unique ability to produce and sustain a mutually beneficial ecosystem where mentors, mentees, and companies benefit while coming together and helping us reach 50x50 ahead of schedule.

Faith's Story

FaithThrough mentorship, girls like Faith, who fled her village to escape female genital mutilation and forced marriage, are enrolled in GGBC, matched with a mentor and empowered to complete high school and access resources to become economically empowered.After being matched with Laura, a mentor from Microsoft, Faith has been able to attend college and has since gained the recognition of former First Lady Michelle Obama in her 2016 World Bank Summit speech. She is now on a path to graduate from Eldoret Technical Training Institute with a Diploma in Community Health and Development.

One Step Closer to Global Parity

"My experience as a mentor has been extremely positive and I strongly encourage any woman who is interested in making a positive difference in an adolescent young lady's life to become a mentor."

Bonnie Edwards-Jackson, Finance, U.S. Department of Agriculture - Rural Development and Global Give Back Circle - Girls Guiding Government Mentor

Through the Girls Guiding Government project, WPSP and GGBC nurture a cross-generational network that will mentor, inspire, and lead for years to come. The cyclical leadership model accelerates progress toward gender parity by empowering both existing and emerging leaders to engage in the global effort toward gender parity and make the 50x50 vision a reality.

"Bravo to the Wilson Center [Women in Public Service Project] and Global Give Back Circle, I am sure with guidance to the girls at an early age through their educational path, we shall achieve 50x50 women in public service by 2050."

Hon. Violet Akurut Adome, Member of Parliament, Uganda and Global Give Back Circle - Girls Guiding Government Mentor

Wilson Center      WPSP     GGBC

Gender Data - Powering Public Policy

Gender Data Powering Public Policy

Time and Place

United Nations Headquarters, General Assembly Lobby

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Event Details

In the News:

The Permanent Missions of Canada and Kenya to the United Nations, the United Nations Development Programme Gender Equality in Public Administration Global Initiative, the Wilson Center’s Women in Public Service Project, and McKinsey & Company hosted a panel conversation about the data-driven solutions bringing us closer to women’s leadership and gender equality in public institutions around the world.

Watch: "Your public institutions should reflect the communities that you serve" - Gwen K. Young, Director, Global Women's Leadership Initiative and Women in Public Service Project


Read the Press Release here.

Watch: "It is important to have gender equality in public institutions, not just because women form half of the population of any country, but also because it actually enhances opportunities for development" - H.E. Mrs. Koki Muli Grignon, Deputy Permanent Representative of Kenya to the United Nations

Opening Remarks

Ms. Lakshmi Puri
Deputy Executive Director, UN Women

H.E. Mrs. Koki Muli Grignon
Deputy Permanent Representative of Kenya to the United Nations

H.E. Ms. Louise Blais
Deputy Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations


Ms. Kweilin Ellingrud
Partner, McKinsey & Company and Co-Author, “The Power of Parity: How Advancing Women’s Equality Can Add $12 Trillion to Global Growth”

Ms. Gwen K. Young
Director, Global Women's Leadership Initiative and Women in Public Service Project, The Wilson Center

Beto Ramos/UNDP


Key Quotes:

Gwen K. Young, Director, Global Women's Leadership Initiative and Women in Public Service Project

"The Leadership Index tells us where we are today: the pathways women take to leadership, the positions they hold, and the power they have once they get there. The Leadership Index also tells us where we need to go by identifying barriers to leadership as well as critical gaps in the data that must be addressed to accelerate global progress toward parity.”

Patrick Keuleers UNDP Director/Chief of Profession, Governance and Peacebuilding

"Our initial studies on women’s representation and leadership in government agencies across a diverse group of pilot countries resulted in two main conclusions. First, that women are severely underrepresented at decision-making levels of the public administration. And second, that the data that would allow us to paint a full picture of where and to what extent women are absent in leadership positions are missing.”

Lakshmi Puri, UN Women Deputy Executive Director, Intergovernmental Support and Strategic Partnerships Bureau

“We need to prioritize data- solid disaggregated data- and efforts that put information into effective and strategic use.”

H. E. Mrs. Koki Muli Grignon, Deputy Permanent Representative of Kenya to the United Nations

“There is need to document and track progress made in the realization of this commitment and the implementations of the policies and programs aimed at achieving gender parity, gender equality, and women’s empowerment in Kenya. Of course, this is where data is critical.”

H.E. Louise Blais, Deputy Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations

"We need to make sure that you segregate the data when you're looking at development programs abroad. You need to understand the role of women, the impact on women, in order to make sure that you deliver the kinds of solutions and support that are needed."

Ms. Kweilin Ellingrud, Partner, McKinsey & Company and Co-Author, "The Power of Parity: How Advancing Women's Equality Can Add $12 Trillion to Global Growth"

"Companies in the top quartile of diversity, if you were gender diverse, you were actually 15% more likely within an industry to outperform your peers."


Photo: UN Women via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


Global Voices in International Law: International Courts and Women Judges

Time and Place

5th Floor, The Wilson Center

Follow the conversation


Event Details

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

The desire to create inclusive and representative institutions at all levels of decision-making should consider the importance of creating equal oppportunities for women's representation on international courts. International courts play an important role as arenas where judicial decisions can produce lasting effects on the lives of global citizens.

Many women are affected by many of the decisions made in international courts. However, emerging scholarship has shown that women occupy less than 19% of seats on international courts and tribunals. The lack of women’s voices prevents inclusive decision-making on issues that directly impact their daily lives.

Key Quotes

Lisa Davis, Executive Director, International Association of Women Judges

"History too easily becomes history and not herstory. The IAWJ has documented the role of women judges on the international tribunals, so that future generations of scholars do not have to reconstruct it ... we've creted this oral history project so that judges, lawyers and young girls can know about and can envision the pathway to an international court judicial position."

"The process and positioning for women candidates for the ICC vacancies needs to start years in advance. It is a very political process."

Nienke Grossman, Professor of Law, University of Baltimore School of Law

"What is clear from a number of studies is that national nominations procedures for the vast majority of international courts are opaque and are known only to a few well-connected insiders. These kinds of procedures make it difficult for less well-connected candidates to make it onto the international election stage."

"The data suggests the correlation between institutionalized screening at the international voting stage and a more balanced bench."

Viviana Krsticevic, Executive Director, Center for Justice and International Law

"We found out that progress is not linear - we could not just sit and wait for those spaces to change."

"We cannot accept this as how it is, because it is too important. It is too important that international justice is a space that is representative, that women are engaged. The decisions that [are made] in those spaces are too critical - for us, in our daily lives, for the future of humanity - to have women in those discussions."

Ambassador Liberata Mulamula, Former Ambassador of Tanzania to the United States

"My recommendation, first and foremost, is to have a transparency and openness so that even the women can come forward ... to encourage these women to be a part of these international electorates."


Photo: United Nations via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Featured Speakers

The 50x50 Leadership Circle

50x50 LogoThe Women in Public Service Project works toward the ambitious goal of “50 by 50”: 50% representation of women in policy and political leadership – worldwide – by 2050. A partnership of dynamic and innovative leaders in the public and private sectors, our 50x50 Leadership Circle connects gender parity champions to this global effort.

Members of the 50x50 Leadership Circle are global changemakers and influencers from a wide range of backgrounds including government, technology, business, and nonprofit leadership.

Laura Cox KaplanChair: Laura Cox Kaplan, Corporate & Non-Profit Board Member and former Partner-in-Charge of Public Policy at PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP (PwC) A corporate and non-profit board member, former corporate executive and adviser, Laura has more than 24 years of executive level experience in public policy, communications, corporate governance, and stakeholder engagement in the public, private and non-profit sectors.


Syeda HennaSyeda Henna Babar Ali, Advisor Business Unit Consumer Products, Packages Limited, Chairman DIC Pakistan Limited, Director Packages Constructions Ltd., and Member of Packages Group Advisory Board Syeda has been a business leader in Pakistan for more than 30 years. She has worked to promote literary and arts education throughout her life. 



Will you be a 50x50 Leader?

The 50x50 Leadership Circle plays an integral role in empowering women leaders around the world and expanding the reach and breadth of the WPSP’s work. As a member, you will join a premier international network of champions for global gender parity.

Leadership Circle contributions range from $5,000 to $20,000 for a term of 3 years.

Benefits of Membership

As a member of the 50x50 leadership circle, you will receive:

  • Reserved priority seating and the opportunity to meet speakers at all WPSP public events
  • Invitations to select high-level and private events at the Wilson Center
  • Speaking and co-hosting opportunities for select WPSP events
  • Named recognition as a 50x50 Leadership Circle member on the WPSP website and on select print collateral

Learn More

Are you ready to become a part of the global effort toward gender parity? Contact us or email for more information about membership in the 50x50 leadership circle.

Ambassador Kirsti Kauppi's Story

Ms. Kirsti Kauppi became Ambassador of Finland to the United States in September 2015. Before that (2012-2015) she was Political Director (Director General for Political Affairs) at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Helsinki. In 2009-2012 Ambassador Kauppi served as Director General for Africa and the Middle East.

In 2005 she was appointed Ambassador of Finland to Austria and Permanent Representative to the UN-related international organizations located in Vienna. During her term in Vienna, Ambassador Kauppi also served for three years as the Finnish Governor in the IAEA Board of Governors, including vice-chair of the Board.

In addition to Vienna, Ambassador Kirsti Kauppi has served in the Finnish Embassies in Berlin (2003-2005) as Deputy Chief of Mission (Minister), in Washington (1997-2000), as well as Bangkok (1989-92). Ambassador Kauppi's solid knowledge on European Union affairs builds on her four year service (1993-1997), in the Finnish Permanent Mission to the EU in Brussels. Later on (2001-2003) she was head of EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy coordination in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Helsinki. This was after serving two years (2000-2001) as advisor to the State Secretary.

In the beginning of her career in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in 1983, Ms. Kauppi worked primarily with development cooperation issues, including a two-year period (1985-86) in the International Labour Organization (ILO) in Geneva.

Ambassador Kirsti Kauppi was born in 1957 in Oulu, Northern Finland. She studied in the Helsinki School of Economics and Business Administration and received her Master's degree in Economics in 1981. In 1983 she joined the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland where she has made her professional career since then.

Ambassador Kirsti Kauppi is, in addition to her native Finnish, fluent in English, Swedish, German and French. She is an avid reader of history and enjoys walking and bicycle riding in her free time.


World Economic Forum

Gender parity is fundamental to whether and how economies and societies thrive. Ensuring the full development and appropriate deployment of half of the world’s total talent pool has a vast bearing on the growth, competitiveness and future-readiness of economies and businesses worldwide. This year’s edition of the report dives into the dynamics of gender gaps across industry talent pools and occupations. The Global Gender Gap Report benchmarks 144 countries on their progress towards gender parity across four thematic dimensions: Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, and Political Empowerment.


The Gender Balande Guide lays out the road-map for the United Arab Emirates and its organisations to harness the untapped potential that women represent.

Building on OECD expertise, it provides a list of practical actions that can be taken by UAE organisations in order to achieve gender balance and work towards gender equality.

These actions cover five distinct areas:

  • Actions to implement commitment and oversight for gender balance
  • Actions to integrate gender into policies and programmes
  • Actions for engaging personnel towards gender balance
  • Actions to implement gender balance in leadership positions
  • Actions to implement gender sensitive communication




On November 1, 2017, Gwen K. Young, Director of the Global Women's Leadership Initiative and Women in Public Service Project hosted a webinar to show participants how to analyze findings and datasets in the Leadership Index, as well as discuss key findings and critical gaps in the global data to date.

The Leadership Index was released on October 17, 2017 and is a first-of-its-kind data framework to study women's leadership across countries and sectors.

Developed by the Wilson Center's Women in Public Service Project in collaboration with UNDP, this Index is the only multidimensional tool tracking the pathways for women to pursue leadership, the positions they currently hold, and the power they are able to exercise in those positions.

This included a Q&A with Gwen K. Young and the data expert who built the index.


Fellow, Chan Zuckerberg Iniative

Mira Patel's Story

Mira Patel is a Wharton MBA and former Obama Administration official who has built multimillion-dollar partnerships and advised two Cabinet officials on foreign affairs and economic policy. She is currently a Fellow at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

Mira is focused on furthering economic development and the advancement of human rights through technology, entrepreneurship, and innovative public-private partnerships. Most recently she served as the Senior Advisor for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and was previously appointed to Secretary Clinton’s Policy Planning Staff at the U.S. Department of State developing policy, programming, and communications on international human rights. In these roles, Mira launched multimillion-dollar public-private partnerships including the Global Equality Fund and the Women in Public Service Project and defined U.S. diplomatic policies and operations on gender integration and international LGBT rights. She previously worked for the U.S. Senate for Senator Clinton, the Center for American Progress, and Lehman Brothers.

Mira holds an MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a BA in Political Science from Wellesley College. She has been recognized for her public service contributions by the Washington Post, McKinsey & Company, American Association of University Women, Advocate Magazine, and Go Magazine. She is a Council on Foreign Relations Term Member and serves on its Term Member Advisory Board, a member of the Advisory Council of the Wilson Center’s Women in Public Service Project, and was previously a Point Foundation Scholar and Atlantic Council Millennium Fellow.


The National Representation Index measures political power by race and gender, comparing the demographics of a state's population to its elected officials, and adjusting for level of office.

The Reflective Democracy Campaign reimagines a political system that engages America’s full range of talent and experience. The campaign conducts groundbreaking research, engages the public in crucial dialogue, and makes catalytic investments in leaders and organizations working towards a Reflective Democracy.




The Reflective Democracy Campaign reimagines a political system that engages America's full range of talent and experience. The campaign conducts groundbreaking research, engages the public in crucial dialogue, and makes catalytic investments in leaders and organizations working towards a Reflective Democracy.

In October 2014, the campaign launched Who Leads Us? with research revealing the race and gender of 42,000 elected office holders in the U.S. from the President down to the county level. Using that data, we created the National Representation Index, which calculates the level to which white men hold greater power than other groups in each state. The campaign conducted a national opinion survey in 2014 that showed that a bi-partisan majority of the electorate supports bringing more women and people of color into political leadership. In July 2015 our Justice for All? report demonstrated the unbalanced representation in the criminal justice system in which 95% elected prosecutors nationwide are white. To promote solutions, the campaign recently announced its investment in the Reflective Democracy Innovators, leaders and organizations tackling the barriers to Reflective Democracy.




Tackling Childcare: The Business Case for Employer-Supported Childcare report, released on September 27, fills that gap. It discusses how companies can analyze their workforce to identify the type of childcare support they can offer to their employees—from on-site childcare to subsidies—that best suits their needs. The report draws on 10 case studies of companies around the world offering various childcare options, highlighting how investments in employer-supported childcare can strengthen the bottom line.

A regulatory framework analysis for each country accompanies the 10 case studies. This analysis was provided by the World Bank Group’s Women, Business and the Law, which measures laws and regulations that affect women’s economic empowerment in 173 economies around the world. WBL’s policy note highlights the regulatory framework in employer-supported childcare and private, stand-alone childcare centers in the 50 economies covered by the Tackling Childcare.

When companies support childcare, they can hire and retain talented people, helping boost profits and productivity. Moreover, childcare provision can enable more women and men to participate in paid labor. In addition, children who have access to early childhood education and care are more likely to perform well in school and be healthier, as well as are more productive as adults. Hence, employer-supported childcare can result in a win-win situation for employees and their children, employers, and economies.




In 2017, women are mobilized and ready to run for leadership positions at every level of government. Our data supports their instincts that now is the time to run and serve. Indeed, it is an excellent time to be a woman running for office.

The Barbara Lee Family Foundation has been studying female candidates for nearly 20 years, and we’ve never seen anything quite like 2017. This year, we’ve witnessed a tremendous increase in the number of women running for office, with thousands of women - many of whom are first-time candidates - announcing campaigns for offices ranging from the school board to the Senate. Our findings in Opportunity Knocks evaluate how today’s voters perceive women candidates, what qualities they’re looking for, and how women can monitor their perceived disadvantages while making the most of the opportunities.


Mayor of Burnsville, MN

Elizabeth Kautz 's Story

Elizabeth B. Kautz was elected Mayor of Burnsville, Minnesota in 1994 and is currently serving her 22nd year as Mayor.

She recently served as President of United States Conference of Mayors and now serves as a Chair of the Finance & Audit Committee and Trustee of the US Conference of Mayors, she is Chairperson for the Council of Regents’ St Mary’s University, serves on the Board of Directors for Greater MSP, the Governor’s Workforce Development Board and for the Local Government Advisory Committee to the EPA Administrator, as well as Co-founder of the Regional Council of Mayors and representing Burnsville on numerous local, regional, state, and national boards.

Mayor Kautz received her Master’s Degree in Counselling, Psychology from the Alfred Adler Institute of Chicago, Illinois and was awarded an undergraduate degree in Theology with a psychology focus from the St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Mayor Kautz was one of the first women to serve as a Professional Minister within the Catholic Church as Pastoral Minister.



Watch the expert conversation at the Wilson Center here.

While men still dominate leadership roles within national and international security structures, they have remained on the sidelines of the Women, Peace and Security movement. With the increasing awareness of the Women, Peace and Security mandates in countries around the world, men who are personally moved by this agenda are stepping forward as supporters and contributors. However, there are obstructions (both institutional and perceptional) that have limited the engagement of men and the powerful impact they could have by supporting this mandate vocally. Recently, there has been more attention on engaging men, but the efforts have been ad hoc and lessons have not been documented sufficiently.

In 2017, Our Secure Future, a program of One Earth Future, launched a new project to begin to address this significant gap. Through interviews and surveys of leaders from across sectors of the US government, US military, other governments and militaries, civil society, and international organizations, this project is collecting the reflections of men who are promoting gender equality in peace and security policy and practice. Between December 2016 and July 2017, more than 50 semi-structured phone and Skype interviews were conducted for this project and more than 20 survey responses were collected and analyzed. This study is meant to provide important foundational knowledge that can inform policy, research, and advocacy to support the next stage of growth for the Women, Peace and Security movement.



Edited by:


The Connection between women's economic participation and prosperity is undeniable. Over the past two decades, a growing number of international organizations and world leaders have recognized that the economic empowerment of women is critical to economic growth and stability. Multilateral bodies such as the Group of Twenty and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum have ratified agreements to promote women in the economy as a mean to stimulate growth, and governments from the Ivory Coast to Rwanda to Japan have adopted reforms to increase women's ability to contribute to their economies.

These developments have fueled mounting international recognition of the importance of women's economic growth, manifested most notably in the landmark Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted at the United Nations in September 2015. The SDG framework specific targets to improve women's economic participation, including equality in property ownership and inheritance and access to financial services, natural resources, and technology - the first time for a global development agenda.


A new Pew Research Center survey finds that Democrats are largely dissatisfied with the nation's progress on this issue - 69% say the country hasn't gone far enough when it comes to giving women equal rights with men. Among Republicans, more than half (54%) say things are about right, while only 26% say the country has more work to do.

Democrats are also much more likely than Republicans to say that men have easier lives than women these days: 49% of Democrats say this compared with 19% of Republicans. A majority of Republicans (68%) say neither men nor women have it easier today (compared with 45% of Democrats). Those who see an advantage for men often say these inequalities are rooted in the workplace.


The Australian Government has committed to a new gender diversity target of women holding 50 per cent of Government board positions overall, and women and men holding at least 40 per cent of positions at the individual board level. This will take effect 1 July 2016.

The Gender Balance on Australian Government Boards Report 2015-16 provides a statistical gender analysis of the composition of Australian Government boards for the period 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016.



Inclusion in Combat and Security: A Book Event with Major MJ Hegar

Time and Place

6th Floor Board Room, The Wilson Center

Event Details

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

On October 27, The Wilson Center’s Women in Public Service Project hosted a conversation with Major Mary Jennings “MJ” Hegar about her memoir,Shoot Like a Girl: One Woman’s Dramatic Fight in Afghanistan and on the Home Front, and the role of women in combat and security. The discussion was moderated by Sherri Goodman, Wilson Center Senior Fellow.

Major Hegar joined the U.S. Air Force in 1999, was selected to pilot training by the Air National Guard, finished at the top of her class, and flew combat search-and-rescue missions during her three tours of Afghanistan. For her service, she received the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor Device. Upon returning home, Major Hegar fought to ensure that all jobs in the military are open for competition to both men and women by leading the suit calling for the reversal of the Combat Exclusion Policy, which the Secretary of Defense repealed in 2013. During her visit, she discussed her experiences in the military, and the relationship between improving access and equity for women in the armed services, and enhancing overall military effectiveness.

Key Quotes

Major Mary Jennings “MJ” Hegar

MJ Hegar

“There are many things throughout history people thought women couldn’t do… Women and other marginalized communities simply continue to prove that wrong.”

“We need women in combat… Sometimes women are the best at their specific jobs. It is definitely a military effectiveness question when you talk about limiting half the population from even applying for some of our military elite positions.”

“The official barriers are gone. The unofficial barriers are still there. We have to be very aware of them. We have to call them out when we see them. The men have to call them out when they see them.”

“Don’t put quotas on women in leadership, let nature take its course... We need to monitor it.. The bigger deal we make out of it, the harder it becomes.”

“I think we’ve seen some really great first steps. I think thirty years ago we probably thought thirty years from then we would be farther along. I think things like boards and forums and goals like 50 by 50 are going to help.”

“Keep the expectations for yourself high. Keep the expectations for whatever the organization you’re leading high. Keep the expectations for cadet corps high, no matter what the gender or branches. Let’s stop lowering expectations for different branches for different things... Some people will hit those expectations, and some people won’t. Keep them high for everyone. Stop using our unconscious bias as excuses for ourselves or others to not achieve things.”


Featured Speakers

Our Secure Future

Not the Usual Suspects: Engaging Male Champions of Women, Peace and Security

Time and Place

The Wilson Center

Event Details

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

On October 13th, the Women in Public Service Project at the Wilson Center, the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, and Our Secure Future: Women Make the Difference co-hosted a conversation on the current level of men's engagement in Women, Peace and Security and what steps we can take together to encourage more male allies to join the movement. The panel was moderated by Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Executive Director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security, and featured Sahana Dharmapuri, Director of Our Secure Future: Women Make the Difference; Ambassador Steven McGann, founder of The Stevenson Group; Tim Shand, Vice President of Advocacy and Partnerships, Promundo; Jolynn Shoemaker, Consultant, Our Secure Future: Women Make the Difference; and Ambassador Donald Steinberg, CEO, World Learning, Inc.

While men still dominate leadership roles within national and international security structures, they have remained on the sidelines of the Women, Peace, and Security movement. Even as awareness of Women, Peace, and Security has grown, efforts to engage men have been ad hoc and good practices have not been shared, especially at the policy level.

Our panelists spoke about the gendered, structural limitations that exist within security structures that they have experienced and studied, and what practices can be implemented to

Key Quotes

Ambassador Melanne Verveer:
“Progress has not been what it should be on this issue - there has been some progress, but it's slower than it should be."

Sahana Dharmapuri:
"The key finding that was the most surprising to us was that across the board…, the almost unanimous view that working on women in peace and security has transformed the way that these men in leadership positions view what security is.”

Jolynn Shoemaker:
"One of the biggest obstacles people identified were embedded cultures in their organizations."

Ambassador Steven McGann:
“Unless you have widespread institutional support, nothing can happen.”

Tim Shand:
“…Conflict and war have gendered impacts both for women and for men”

Ambassador Donald Steinberg:
“Involving women is not only, as you said, the right thing, but it’s the most efficient and effective thing.”



Co-hosted in collaboration with:




Featured Speakers


The survey also reveals that women remain at a marked disadvantage compared to men in their daily lives. The education gap remains wide, and people also report that women face discrimination in the work place, in the courts, and among traditional leaders in their communities. Perhaps more telling, women exercise their political
rights - participating in campaigns, talking to political leaders and even voting - less frequently than do men.


But there are signs of progress as well. Majorities in most countries say their governments are handling women's empowerment well, and support for women’s equality has increased in the past decade. Overall, the findings suggest that while support for women’s equality is widespread and growing, many women's lives are
 still characterized by disadvantage and discrimination. While governments get good marks for their performance in empowering women, the battle for equal rights and opportunities for women is far from won.



Edited by:


African countries have been among the pacesetters in the push for greater political decision-making power for women, boosted by the widespread use of electoral gender quotas (Bauer, 2013). Of the world’s 20 countries with the greatest female representation in their parliaments, seven are in Africa, led by Rwanda (64%). In sub-Saharan Africa, the proportion of female parliamentarians doubled between 2000 and 2016, from 12% to 24% – better than the United States (19%) and many European and Asian countries. Over the same period, the share of women holding seats in Parliament in the Arab World, which includes North African countries, has increased from 4% to 18% (World Bank, 2016a). Again outpacing the United States, seven African countries have had women in top executive positions (president, acting president, prime minister), most notably Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (since 2006).

Despite these achievements, women’s political representation in Africa continues to fall far short of the African Union (AU) call for 50% women at all levels of political decision-making positions by 2015 (Bosha, 2014). Although women constitute a majority of the population in most African countries, significant barriers still limit their political leadership. This paper uses Afrobarometer survey data to examine public attitudes and experiences related to women’s political participation in five North African countries. All five countries have quotas that have helped raise women’s representation in the national legislatures: Algeria (32% of parliamentary seats are held by women), Egypt (15%), Morocco (17%), Sudan (31%), and Tunisia (31%) (World Bank, 2016a; El Arabiya News, 2012; iKnowPolitics, 2014).

Yet if lasting change ultimately depends on citizens’ attitudes, the news is less encouraging: Among 36 African countries surveyed in 2014/2015, the North Africa region expresses the lowest level of support for women’s political leadership. Compared to North African men as well as to women in other regions, North African women are less likely to vote, to be involved in pre-election processes or political activism, and to contact leaders to express their views. And North Africans are less likely than citizens in other regions to rate their governments as effective advocates for women.



Edited by:

Baltimore City

Economic Development in Our Nation’s Cities: A Conversation on Growing Jobs through Investment, Education, and International Trade

Time and Place

Follow the conversation


Event Details

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

On October 18th, The Wilson Center’s Women in Public Service Project and Urban Sustainability Laboratory along with the Association of Women in International Trade (WIIT) held a conversation with two of our nation’s leading mayors to discuss their role fostering urban growth with equity. The discussion was moderated by Dr. Blair Ruble, Vice President for Programs and Director of the Urban Sustainability Laboratory at the Wilson Center. Mayors play a critical role in ensuring their city continues improving while retaining its distinctiveness uniqueness.

The Honorable Megan Barry of Nashville, Tennessee and the Honorable Libby Schaaf of Oakland, California talked at length about economic development in America’s cities and the importance of inclusion, diversity, and strategies that create jobs while enhancing the quality of life for their citizens. Each panelist tackled tough questions concerning the importance of globalization in our current political climate, how women in leadership is different and necessary, and what they’re doing to combat institutional inequalities


Key Quotes

Honorable Megan Barry


"I don't think that [the men before me] didn't care about families - I just think they didn't think about it. I don't think they thought having paid family leave was something that we needed."

"We try to get our workforce to look like Nashville ... all of the people who sit [in my office] were the most qualified candidates, they also just happen to reflect what our community looks like. This idea of how women lead differently - I think it's that we're deliberate."

"If we're going to [reach 50% representation by 2050] we've got to get a whole lot more familiar with women sitting in seats of power. I think that when women sit in seats of power there is so much more women move on, and it impacts people who are underserved."


Honorable Libby Schaaf


"It is ridiculous what women have to go through to be in the workforce and have babies at the same time ... unless your life experience has allowed you to see these things, you're not going to be able to know where to have to go to get rid of them."

"If we want to be inclusive and diversify the success within our economy, we've got to think about what some of these old institutions are that have been preserving the barriers and preserving the kind of oppressive policies and practices that have excluded groups from the economy."

Photo: Baltimore City via Flickr(CC BY-NC 2.0)

Co-sponsored by:







Featured Speakers

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Innovating Women's Leadership Across Sectors: A Conversation with H.E. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, President of Mauritius

Time and Place

6th Floor Auditorium, The Wilson Center

Follow the conversation


Event Details

On October 2nd, the Women in Public Service Project and Africa Program at the Wilson Center co-hosted a conversation with Her Excellency Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, President of Mauritius. The panel was moderated by Gwen K. Young, Director of the Global Women's Leadership Initiative and the Women in Public Service Project at the Wilson Center.

The impact of women's voices in decisions-making transcends sectors and industries, and few global leaders have more direct experience with this than President Gurib-Fakim. The first woman to be President of Mauritius and one of only four women presidents in Africa, President Gurib-Fakim is also an internationally acclaimed scientist and dedicated advocate for engaging women and girls in STEM innovation.

President Gurib-Fakim spoke about the advancements made in the Mauritius and internationally, and how individuals can work to create environments that encourage gender parity.

Key Quotes

"If women are left out of full participation in the 21st century aspirations, we will not achieve gender equality nor realize our broader goals for growth, prosperity, and well-beling, including scientific advancement."

"When science is rejected as a career choice, it is often due to limited information and the dearth of positive role models to encourage young girls to participate."

"Women must be empowered with knowledge, technology, financial resources and land, increasing access to financial mechanisms removing legal barriers, are among the many ways that women can stay in the workforce and achieve their fullest potential."


Photo: International Labour Organization via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Featured Speakers


  Casting a spotlight on the application of gender-responsive budgeting in public budgetary policies, systems and processes, the contributions to this volume explore the chequered trajectories of these efforts in Africa, the Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Andalucía. Critiquing systems of finance, from adherence to neo-liberal macroeconomic fundamentals which prioritise fiscal austerity, the book makes a compelling case for reframing and re-prioritizing budgets to comply with human rights standards, with a particular view to realizing women’s rights. The authors highlight the paltry funding for women’s rights organizations and movements and examine the prospects for making financing gender responsive. The specific policy, strategy and technical recommendations and the connections across silos which articulate the authors’ suggested operational levers will appeal to researchers, practitioners, students, policymakers, gender equality and human rights activists alike.



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In addition to governments, the private sector is increasingly committed to reducing gaps between men and women not just because it is the right thing to do, but because it makes business sense. Gender equality is also central to the World Bank Group’s own goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity in a sustainable manner. No society can develop sustainably without transforming the distribution of opportunities, resources and choices for males and females so that they have equal power to shape their own lives and contribute to their families, communities, and countries. Promoting gender equality is smart development policy.



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Former Foreign Secretary of India
Ambassador Rao

Ambassador Nirupama Rao's Story

Nirupama Menon Rao is a retired Indian diplomat, Foreign Secretary and Ambassador. She was educated in India and joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1973. During her four-decade-long diplomatic career she held several important assignments. She was India’s first woman spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi, the first woman high commissioner from her country to Sri Lanka, and the first Indian woman ambassador to the People’s Republic of China. She served as India’s Foreign Secretary from 2009-2011. At the end of that term, she was appointed India’s Ambassador to the United States where she served for a term of two years from 2011-2013.

On her retirement from active diplomatic service, Ambassador Rao entered the world of academics with an appointment as Meera and Vikram Gandhi Fellow at the India Initiative at Brown University in  Providence, Rhode Island.  Ms. Rao has continued to pursue her academic interests and has taught an undergraduate seminar at Brown University titled "India in the World". 

Ambassador Rao holds an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Pondicherry University in India. She is currently working on a book on India’s China relationship, entitled: “The Politics of History: India and China, 1949-1962”.

In November 2014, the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund, New Delhi, announced the grant of the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship to Ambassador Rao to enable her to work on the completion of her book project on India-China relations. Ms. Rao was a Visiting Scholar at the India China Institute at The New School in New York during April-May 2016, and was appointed a Public Policy Fellow at The Wilson Center in Washington D.C. in June 2017. 

Learn more about Ambassador Rao at

Photo: Victor Alvarez

President and CEO, The Paradigm Forum GmbH

Eleanor Tabi Haller-Jorden's Story

Eleanor Tabi Haller-Jorden is the President and CEO of The Paradigm Forum GmbH (TPF), a global consultancy and think tank operating at the intersection of social justice and workplace innovation. Previously, Ms. Haller-Jorden held the position of Senior Vice President Global Learning Strategies at Catalyst, where she designed cutting-edge initiatives to promote organizational inclusion and innovation in diverse cultural contexts.

Ms. Haller-Jorden is a frequent speaker and recognized voice in the international media. Her board appointments and strategic advisory roles are numerous, including Strategic Advisor to EDGE Strategy AG, Executive-in-Residence at the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership at Babson College, and a member of the Milton Academy Board of Trustees. Ms. Haller-Jorden also serves as a Global Fellow for the Women in Public Service Project at the Wilson Center and a Visiting Scholar at IMD Business School.

Ms. Haller-Jorden has been appointed to two initiatives founded by Hillary Clinton: the Vital Voices Global Partnership as a Global Ambassador, and the Women in Public Service Project as a faculty member during the 2013 Summer Institute Peacebuilding and Development. She has been named a European Thought Leader by the IBM Global Innovation Outlook initiative.

Ms. Haller-Jorden attended Princeton University as an advanced standing scholar and Bryn Mawr College, where she earned a B.A. magna cum laude in History and received the Helen Taft Manning Prize in History. She was named a Sage Fellow in Design & Environmental Analysis at Cornell University and holds a M.Sc. in Industrial Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Executive Director, Johns Hopkins Women’s Health Center, Washington DC

Dr. Sumera Haque's Story

Dr. Sumera Haque is a leading expert in women's health and champion of girls' education and women's empowerment. With over 20 years’ experience as a senior healthcare executive, she currently serves as the Executive Director, Johns Hopkins Women’s Health Center. She has also been a consultant to the World Bank on HIV-AIDS, liaison to the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, an initiative of the American Heart Association and the Clinton Foundation and Ambassador for the Brookings Institution's Girls Education Champion Network South Asia Hub.

A physician from Pakistan with a master’s degree from the GW Milken Institute School of Public Health, Dr. Haque is also a GBV survivor and advocates for women's rights and equal access to healthcare and education. Her leadership and volunteer activities include working with Tahiri Justice, Mirecs, Cair Coalition and Catholic Charities. She also serves as the Academy member of Global Teacher Prize a $1 million award for an exceptional teacher, George Washington University Alumni Ambassador, on the GW Parent Advisory Council, Faculty Advisor at the George Washington University Global Women’s Institute and Liaison for the GW International Medicine Program. For her work she has received the Shero Award for community service from Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland). Dr. Haque was also nominated to attend ‘The United State of Women’ White House Summit in June 2016.

Dr. Haque personally understands the gender equality issues faced by women in developing countries and has dedicated her life to connecting women to organizations that can give them opportunity and enable them to achieve their goals. In particular, she serves as the Ambassador and Producer for Girl Rising Pakistan, a global movement supporting girls’ education and empowerment. 

Her upcoming projects include launching of the first Comprehensive Women's Health Center in Washington, DC, which will allow for connected care to ensure that women's healthcare needs are met. The center will also serve as a hub for academic training and teaching for women's centers in developing countries and provide new opportunities for collaboration and partnership for women's health leaders and advocates.


30 Women in Power carries the inimitable voices of Indian women who have been pioneers and led large organizations in banking, law, the media, advertising, government services, health care, consulting, the fast-moving consumer goods sector and the not-for-profit space. In these narratives told up, close and personal thirty of India s greatest women achievers speak of the guiding principles that have held them in good stead; the role models who have anchored them; the childhood influences that have shaped their values; and the interests outside the world of work that have revitalized them. Coming from all walks of life, these empowered women discuss their many successes and their dreams for the future. Yet, they also venture to disclose the setbacks that have preceded hard-won conquests; the barriers, psychological or otherwise, that may have held them back at certain points; and the compromises they ve had to make to reach the top. Through these honest and contemplative revelations, thirty women in power answer those questions that confront all working women from how best to balance the personal and the professional, to how to dismantle gender biases. Equally, the essayists consider seminal issues that concern every committed professional, man or woman: What are the qualities that define a leader? Where does one find a mentor? What are the ingredients in the recipe for success? Edited by business leader extraordinaire Naina Lal Kidwai, this topical and relevant book is a must-read, not only for the lessons it provides, but also for the intimate accounts it offers of lives powerfully lived.



Edited by:


Published by The Female Quotient

"Within this issue, we have taken a closer look at the values and characteristics associated with leadership today. Why? Because it is leadership that moves the world. Leaders start the discussions around issues that matter the most and then model and champion the change needed. Leaders drive change by improving processes, operations and communication.

There are significant changes in the defining characteristics of the most successful corporate leaders of today and of those leaders who will drive future progress. In many ways, the younger generations are influencing leaders to think and lead differently. Today’s best corporate leaders require an ability to not only think critically and communicate effectively, but the flexibility to embrace the ideals of collaboration, curiosity and even failure. Diversity of thought, perspective and experience is imperative to innovation and increased profitability … the leaders of tomorrow recognize this and use diversity as a strategic tool."

Gwen K. Young, Director of the Global Women's Leadership Initiative and the Women in Public Service Project, contributed to this issue.



Edited by:


Published by Barbara Lee Family Foundation 

For nearly 20 years, the Barbara Lee Family Foundation has studied every woman’s campaign for governor on both sides of the aisle, including real-time polling on voters’ views and post-election interviews with candidates and campaign staff. Keys to Elected Office: The Essential Guide for Women offers the most direct, must-know advice we’ve gleaned for women elected officials and candidates running for office. From the personal traits, to actions that convey qualification and likeability, to bouncing back from mistakes, this nonpartisan guide is a concise look at what it takes for a woman to run and succeed.

The findings laid out in Keys to Elected Office: The Essential Guide for Women show that women candidates still face challenges. Those challenges, however, are surmountable—and they are often countered by strategic advantages.



Edited by:


In March 2017, Dr. Joyce Banda launched her paper, “From Day One: An Agenda for Advancing Women Leaders in Africa” as the crux of her research while serving as a Distinguished Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center.  As a woman leader and former President of Malawi, Dr. Banda knows the barriers facing women who seek positions of political leadership and the opportunities to remove such barriers. 

Towards this, Dr. Banda published “From Day One: An Agenda for Advancing Women in Africa” which details the history of women’s leadership in Africa and some of the challenges and opportunities women face on their leadership journey. The paper includes five key recommendations for promoting women’s leadership in Africa:

  1. Enhance political will to empower girls, and appoint qualified women to leadership positions

  2. Mobilize rural leadership, families, and communities to promote the change of mindsets and behavior around women and girls

  3. Strengthen networks between current and emerging leaders

  4. Allocate resources towards data collection and analysis, and research around women and leadership

  5. Create the legal environment to advance women in positions of leadership

As a second phase of her research, Dr. Banda is spearheading the creation of a toolkit to provide actionable steps to implement the recommendations. The toolkit is meant to inspire and provide examples of how policymakers, civil society organizations, community leaders, and the international community can work together to develop a critical mass of women leaders in political positions across Africa to ensure good governance and economic stability, and greater stability overall.


Advancing Women Leaders in Africa by The Wilson Center on Scribd



Edited by:

Wilson Center Distinguished Fellow and Former President of Malawi


Published in Foreign Policy Analysis (Volume 13:3)

Most of the gender-related diplomacy studies are limited to individual Ministry of Foreign Affairs and say little about diplomacy as an aggregate set of practices. This articles draws on theories of gender and positional status to ask whether there are gender patterns in ambassador appointments—with men occupying positions of higher military and economic status than women—much like the ones found in other institutions. Analyses are based on a unique data set containing almost 7,000 ambassador appointments, made by the fifty highest ranked countries in terms of GDP in 2014.

The results show that female ambassadors are less likely to occupy high-status ambassadorships than men. In short, gender patterns, linked to power and status, are present also in ambassador appointments. Diplomacy studies need to do much more to address the presence and impact of gender in international affairs.



Edited by:

University of Gothenburg
University of Gothenburg
Author, Divided We Stand: The Battle Over Women’s Rights and Family Values That Polarized American Politics

Marjorie J. Spruill's Story

Marjorie J. Spruill, a historian, is the author of the highly acclaimed Divided We Stand: The Battle Over Women’s Rights and Family Values That Polarized American Politics (Bloomsbury 2017). She is well known for her work on women and politics from the woman suffrage movement to the present as well as her work on the history of the American South.

Divided We Stand addresses the rise of the modern women's rights movement to a peak period of success, the mobilization of social conservatives in opposition, and the impact on American political culture.  

Spruill worked on the book while a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Her work has also been supported by the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study (Harvard University), the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Humanities Center in the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation, Vanderbilt University, and the University of South Carolina.

In addition to Divided We Stand, she is the author of New Women of the New South: The Woman Suffrage Movement in the Southern States (Oxford University Press) and  editor of five books on the woman suffrage movement, including One Woman, One Vote: Rediscovering the Woman Suffrage Movement, the companion volume to the PBS documentary “One Woman, One Vote.” She also edited a two-volume textbook on the history of the American South and two anthologies about the lives and times of women in South Carolina and Mississippi.

Spruill is a native of Washington, North Carolina and received her BA in American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  She also received an MAT from Duke University, and a MA and PhD from the University of Virginia. She previously taught at the University of Southern Mississippi, and was Associate Provost and Research Professor of History at Vanderbilt.  She was a professor at the University of South Carolina from 2004 to 2017.

Recently retired from teaching, she is a University of South Carolina professor emerita, living near Charleston in Folly Beach, S.C.

Executive Director, Ashoka Africa

Pape Samb 's Story

Pape Samb is the Executive Director of Ashoka Africa and a Vice President of Ashoka Global. He has more than 20 years of leadership experience and an established record in strategic planning, program development and management, content management, fundraising, proposal writing, training and facilitation. At 13, he started a women’s empowerment and youth economic development organization. At 17, he was president of CAP-Jeunesse, a Senegalese network of youth organizations; and was hired by the Senegalese government to train youth in entrepreneurship, business and grassroots organization management.

He rose from the ranks of director of programs and COO to become the president and CEO of Phelps Stokes, America’s oldest (105 years) continuously-operating foundation. The youngest and first non-American to head the organization, he provided leadership and vision in globalization and investing in a new generation of global leaders, educators, entrepreneurs, students, and citizens, with particular attention on people of color and indigenous affiliation.

A driving force and empowering ‘agent of change’ for youth globally, he founded in 2011 and currently serves as the volunteer chairman of the Global Youth Innovation Network (GYIN), a youth-run and led network of over 6,000 young leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators and farmers in approximately 100 countries. At GYIN, he develops programs and influences policies that address the root causes of youth unemployment, while increasing the opportunities young people have to obtain a decent job or start a successful business.

Experienced in international development, he supported Sasha Bruce Youthwork in programmatic and development operations; designed, implemented and managed Africare’s online communications in 26 African field offices; and served as micro-finance director at Cooperazione Internazionale (COOPI).

He is an active public speaker on the national and international forefront and has spoken at Qatar Foundation, Gandhi Research Foundation, World Food Prize, International Technology Education and Development, United Nations, World Bank, USAID, Columbia Business School, Wharton University to name few.

Samb holds a Masters in Executive Leadership and Public Administration from American University and has won several awards including Leadership in Excellence and Next Generation of Leaders.

Divided We Stand Cover

Progress is Not Linear: A Book Event with Dr. Marjorie J. Spruill

Time and Place

6th Floor Board Room, The Wilson Center

Event Details

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

In 1977, thousands of women flooded into Houston, Texas for the National Women's Conference at a time when both major political parties in the U.S. supported the goals of the women's rights movement. Yet at the 1977 conference this bipartisan support turned into a political dissonance that remains a part of fundamental rifts in U.S. politics today.

Since the 1970's, women’s representation in policy and political leadership in the U.S. has increased: over the last 40 years, women’s participation in the Senate has increased by 21 percent and by 15 percent in the House. This has ensured key issues from 1977, such as maternity leave and equal pay, continue to play a role in national policy conversations. However, the parties are no longer united over all of these issues.

On July 24, the Women in Public Service Project at the Wilson Center (WPSP) hosted a book event with former Wilson Center Fellow Dr. Marjorie J. Spruill, author of the book Divided We Stand: The Battle Over Women's Rights and Family Values that Polarized American Politics to discuss the findings of her research that led to the publication of this book, and her work in women’s history to show that, indeed, “progress is not linear”.

Divided We Stand draws the connection between the events that divided American women in the 70s and the subsequent polarization of American politics. In particular, Dr. Spruill took interest in telling the story fairly and accurately with a special focus on expressing the less commonly discussed viewpoint of conservative women.

Dr. Spruill also distinguished elected and appointed women, particularly those in Congress, from advocacy groups from both parties. She envisioned that within Congress will emerge a bipartisan group that would step up for the interest of the country on trending issues such as healthcare and childcare, as well as keep women’s issues at the core of the agenda.

Dr. Spruill also commented on the broader concern of language use as women’s issues are at the forefront of our contemporary discussion. “From the perspective of the women’s movement, the term [feminist] has been embraced by widely popular figures, including ones who resonate with young women and who young women want to emulate, as a very positive development.” She is hopeful that by ensuring two-way communication with one another, women regardless of political affiliations will take advantage of their diverse mindsets, come together, and accelerate the progress toward gender parity that would benefit the country as a whole.

Find more event photos via Flickr.

Featured Speakers

President, Akilah Institute

Connect with Karen Sherman

Karen Sherman's Story

Karen Sherman brings more than 30 years of experience as an entrepreneur, strategist, and executive level manager to her role as President of the Akilah Institute. Throughout her career, Karen has combined her expertise, passion, and transformative leadership skills to affect lasting change for women in conflict-affected countries and those in transition.

Prior to joining Akilah, Karen served as Chief Operating Officer, Executive Director for Global Programs, and, from Kigali, Rwanda, as Africa Regional Director at Women for Women International (WfWi), an organization that enables women war survivors to restart their lives. Under her leadership, WfWi tripled the number of women served, expanded field office staff to over 600 employees across eight countries, and grew from $5 million to over $20 million in total revenue in four years.

Previously, Karen served as the Executive Vice President at Counterpart International, a $130 million global development organization, where she was responsible for increasing the depth, scale, and impact of programs. Over her ten-year tenure, Karen worked to promote and strengthen small businesses, micro-enterprises, and women’s entrepreneurship globally. Additionally, she launched Counterpart’s for-profit subsidiary making equity investments in environmentally sustainable enterprises.

Across her different roles, Karen has worked with stakeholders at all levels, from community groups to corporate leaders and heads of state, to take programs from concept to scale. Most importantly, her work has resulted in measurable impacts on women’s income, health, decision-making, and social networks.

Karen has served as a thought leader and spokesperson on global women’s issues through the media, public appearances, and diverse social media platforms. She has been featured in multiple publications and was Executive Producer of The Other Side of War: Women’s Stories of Survival and Hope, published by National Geographic.

Karen holds a Master’s Degree in Russian and East European Studies from The George Washington University and a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Oregon. She serves as the Board Chair for Everywoman Everywhere, and sits on the Board of Trustees of Mary Baldwin College. She lives in the Washington, D.C. area with her husband and three sons.

Image Cannot Be Displayed

Taking Action to Advance Women Leaders in Africa

Time and Place

6th Floor, The Wilson Center

Follow the conversation


Event Details

While Africa’s history celebrates many women political leaders, former President of Malawi Dr. Joyce Banda argues that this rich tradition will only continue if policymakers, community leaders, and civil society take steps to advance those born to lead.

On July 17th, the Women in Public Service Project and Africa Program at the Wilson Center co-hosted a conversation with Dr. Joyce Banda, former President of Malawi and Wilson Center Distinguished Fellow, and civil society leaders to discuss the progress and challenges for women to become political leaders in Africa. The panel was moderated by Gwen K. Young, Director of the Global Women’s Leadership Initiative and the Women in Public Service Project at the Wilson Center.

While Africa is already leading the way in appointing women to government, it remains an ongoing effort for women and girls to navigate the traditional system and become leaders in the society. Drawing insights from her March 2017 policy paper “From Day One: An Agenda for Advancing Women Leaders in Africa,” Dr. Banda presented a policy toolkit of action points and best practices to implement five key recommendations, including political will, mobility in the rural industry, leaders’ network, data for leadership, and legal environment—designed to guide policymakers and community leaders to support women leaders.

Dr. Banda quote

Key Quotes

Dr. Joyce Banda

Dr. Banda

“When women become leaders, they focus on issues of women and children.”

“We need a toolkit to continue to fight for women’s participation in leadership because the continent of Africa has made good progress.”

“Now we know that it can be done, therefore we must run. We must be talking to our friends and partners that can help us accelerate that speed, making sure that we get as many women as possible into leadership.”

“I’m calling up on my fellow women to rise, to understand, to be counted, to fight, to change mindsets at [the] grassroots.”

“Women are risk-takers […] they put their people first. It’s not about the votes, it’s about the people who gave them the mandate to lead in the first place.”

Dr. Joannie Marlene Bewa

Joannie Bewa

“Women’s leadership is not only about having great dreams but also being able to have a strong ecosystem of alliance that can support [women] in implementing and guides women in decision making.”

“As part of the African continent, we have values specific to ourselves that we don’t defend and we still believe in … this is a great opportunity for us to leverage skills within this community of traditional religious leaders.”

“What doesn’t get measured doesn’t get attention.”

Karen Sherman

Karen Sherman

“Education is key to workforce outcome.”

“The woman earning an income is really a game-changer in the family and in the community. It changes how she’s treated, elevates her status—it gives her voice and agency within that family and within that community.”

Pape Samb

Pape Samb

“We need to educate men to be a partner in empowering women. […] We need to educate men and young boys to understand how we define work in the household, how we define work in the economic market and in the social market.”

“Within our government, we should start having a network of men advocating for women.”

Coming from diverse backgrounds in public health, entrepreneurship, and business, the panelists put forward different approaches that would further Africa’s progress in women’s leadership. They highlighted the need for education and mentorship for young women and girls, which is crucial to changing conventional mindsets about gender roles within the household and the community. Moreover, women should not be the sole agents in the effort toward global parity—both women and men should engage in a reciprocal commitment that nurtures an environment for women’s leadership.

In an effort to address these and other recommendations, Dr. Joyce Banda’s policy toolkit will serve as a substantive action plan for advocates, policymakers and communities to accomplish the necessary steps to achieve gender parity in policy and political leadership in Africa.

By Hoa Nguyen, WPSP Intern

Find more photos via Flickr.

Africa Program

This event was hosted in partnership with the Africa Program at the Wilson Center.

Cover photo: UN Women via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Featured Speakers

She is One

Behind every statistic, there is a story to tell.

An initiative of the Women in Public Service Project, She is One is sharing the stories of the women behind the numbers.

Each woman leader has a unique experience to share, and together, these individuals drive the global movement toward gender parity. By highlighting the paths they have forged, we hope to inspire emerging leaders to join them and bring us closer to the 50x50 goal of 50% representation by 2050. Join the conversation using #SheIsOne.

Learn more about the numbers driving global gender parity with our Global Women's Leadership Initiative Index.


 Listen on SoundCloud

Episode 1: Women at the Table

Baroness Catherine Ashton and Ambassador Wendy Sherman

In this episode, Baroness Catherine Ashton and Ambassador Wendy R. Sherman, both key negotiators in the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, discuss the role of women as mediators in each and every aspect of their lives. Read More.

Episode 2: Trading Gender Parity

Deputy Ambassador Kirsten Hillman

In this episode, Canada's Deputy Ambassador to the U.S. talks about the importance of gender considerations in international trade and the future of trade policy and practice. Read More.

Episode 3: Parity Through Diplomacy

Ambassador Kirsti Kauppi

In this episode, Kirsti Kauppi, Ambassador of Finland to the United States, discusses what it’s like to be a woman working in foreign relations, what it means to be visible, and the differences between the United States and Finland in gender equality efforts and government institutions. Read more.

Episode 4: A Conversation at a Critical Moment

Chief Justice Cármen Lúcia

In this episode, Chief Justice Carmen Lucia talks about what motivates her as one of few women leaders in the judiciary. Read more.

Episode 5: Innovating Leadership

President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim

In this episode, H.E. President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim of Mauritius discusses her goals and insights in promoting women in public service and women in STEM. Read more.

Episode 6: Leadership and Rule of Law

Counselor Christiana Tah

In this episode, Counselor Christiana Tah, Former Minister of Justice for Liberia, discusses her lifelong commitment to public service and the responsibility of judiciary leaders to work toward a more inclusive world. Read more.

Episode 7: Planning for Parity

Maimunah Mohd Sharif

In this episode, Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director of UN-Habitat, shares strategies to promote education and gender equity in order to build inclusive cities. Read more.

Episode 8: Forging Your Path

Navbahor Imamova

In this episode, International Broadcaster for VOA Uzbek Navbahor Imamova discusses what it was like growing up as a young girl with journalism aspirations in a Muslim Soviet society, the importance of building confidence in your abilities, and navigating a journalism career in a state with limited freedom of the press. Read more.

Episode 9: Breaking Your Own Barriers

Amanda Bennett

In this episode, Voice of America Director Amanda Bennett discusses her experience being a woman in journalism, approaching leadership roles in a male-dominated industry, and how women sometimes subconsciously create barriers for themselves through self-selection. Read more.



New information and communications technologies (ICT) have revolutionised everyday work and life in the 21st century. They enable people to connect with friends and family – as well as with work colleagues and supervisors – at any point in time; however, they also facilitate the encroachment of paid work into the spaces and times normally reserved for personal life. The uncoupling of paid work from traditional office spaces has been a crucial factor in this development. Today’s office work and, more broadly, knowledge work, is supported by the internet, and can be carried out from practically any location and at any time. This new spatial independence has transformed the role of technology in the work environment, offering both new opportunities and new challenges.

This report considers the impact of telework/ICT-mobile work (T/ICTM) on the world of work. T/ICTM can be defined as the use of ICT – such as smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers – for the purposes of work outside the employer’s premises. The report synthesises research carried out by Eurofound’s network of European correspondents in 10 EU Member States – Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the UK – and by ILO country experts in Argentina, Brazil, India, Japan and the US. These contributors were asked to review and summarise the findings of data and research literature on the subject of T/ICTM in their respective countries.



Edited by:


Caregiving and unpaid care work are at the heart of any discussion of the state of the world’s fathers, and at the heart of gender inequality. For all the attention paid to unpaid care work, however, in no country in the world do men’s contributions to unpaid care work equal women’s.

This report affirms that change – from the individual to the policy level – is happening. Significant obstacles notwithstanding, evidence, experience, and insight affirm that radical, transformational change in the division of unpaid care is achievable at a global level. Social norms, policies, and practices can be changed to encourage men and boys to do more unpaid care. In interviews carried out around the world with dozens of men who had taken on traditionally female-dominated caregiving roles, researchers found that unexpected life circumstances – situations that presented no alternative but to adopt a radical new way of being – had provided the impetus for the men’s transformed attitudes and new household or professional roles.4 These men rose to a tremendous life challenge and emerged thriving in unexpected and more gender-equitable ways. Their experiences show that men and boys can be influenced to do their share of the care work; their stories do not come from an idealized, impossible world. The State of the World’s Fathers 2017 report, accordingly, urges mothers and fathers, caregivers of all kinds, communities of all sizes, and countries of all income levels to follow their lead.



Edited by:

Oxfam GB
Director for Health, Plan International USA

Danielle Grant's Story

With a total of 30 years of experience in international development, particularly in the areas of reproductive health, family planning and civil society advocacy for international health programs, Ms. Grant brings expertise in developing strategies which strengthen the capacity of civil society, members of the public sector and other groups in the policy making process, fostering public private partnerships and providing tools and skills to networks and marginalized groups to advocate for their own policy change. Currently as Director, Health at Plan International USA, Ms. Grant provides leadership and guidance to ensure effective and efficient management of Plan USA programs, working with the Technical Team in implementing country programs. Prior to joining Plan, Ms. Grant held a Director and Francophone Regional Manager position with CEDPA on the Health Policy Initiative, Task Order 1 focusing on civil society engagement in the policy making process.


This report, written by former Chilean Minister Laura Albornoz Pollman, delves into the data, scant as they are, and explores important questions: are quota laws a sustainable tool to yield a greater proportion of women in legislatures; and what are the lessons that can be learned from women who have made it to the upper echelons of both corporate and public life?

Here, we focus on two principal areas where women’s empowerment can achieve transformative change: democratic institutions and corporate offices.

Both policy arenas require a gender perspective that analyzes how Latin American women participate in—and are impacted by—the forces shaping the global economy. With this report, the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center seeks to leverage the region’s compelling case studies into a larger dialogue on how governments, corporations, and civil society can maximize recent progress to bring more women into positions of power. It focuses on women’s participation in public office, women in the c-suite, and the case studies of Mexico, Chile, and Bolivia. Concrete steps are then laid out that can be taken by governments, civil society, and the private sector to encourage the growth of female leadership across the Americas.



Edited by:

Former Chilean Minister of Women's Affairs
Deputy Ambassador to the U.S. for Canada

Kirsten Hillman's Story

Ms. Kirsten Hillman is Canada's Deputy Ambassador to the United States.

Previously, she served as Assistant Deputy Minister of the Trade Agreements and Negotiations Branch at Global Affairs Canada, where she was responsible for leading the Government of Canada team in conducting exploratory trade discussions with China in addition to overseeing Canada’s trade negotiations agenda.

Prior to this position, she held the position of Associate Assistant Deputy Minister of the Trade Agreements and Negotiations and Canada’s Chief Negotiator for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and Director General of the Trade Negotiations Bureau.

Ms. Hillman served as the Senior Legal Adviser at the Permanent Mission of Canada to the World Trade Organization (wto), and Director of the Technical Barriers and Regulations Division.  Ms. Hillman worked for a number of years in the Legal Branch at Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, first in the Oceans and Environmental Law Division and then in the Trade Law Bureau.  During her years in trade law, Ms. Hillman represented Canada as lead counsel before panels and the Appellate Body of the wto and managed Canada’s international investor-state arbitration under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Ms. Hillman has significant experience in international dispute resolution and was appointed by the Director General of the wto to serve as arbitrator in a dispute between New Zealand and Australia.

Prior to becoming a public servant, Ms. Hillman practised law in Montreal in the area of commercial litigation. Ms. Hillman holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Manitoba and a Bachelor of Civil Law and a Bachelor of Common Law from McGill University.


This report is part of the Women’s Voice and Leadership in Decision-Making learning and evidence project, which aims to provide lessons to strengthen development policy and operations in related areas through an assessment of the knowledge base. Specifically, the report reviews the global evidence on the processes that enable women to have substantive voice and leadership in decision-making. The report aims to answer two core research questions:

  • What are the enabling factors for women and girls’ voice, leadership and access to decision-making in developing country contexts?
  • What do we know about whether and how women and girls’ voice, leadership and presence in decisionmaking roles results in greater gender equality – including more inclusive political settlements, more gender responsive laws and policies, better provision of public goods and services to women and girls and more equitable social norms and outcomes.

To answer these two questions, the review assesses the evidence on three thematic areas – women’s political participation, social mobilisation and economic participation – and on how activities in these spheres affect women’s voice, leadership and influence over decision-making. The report also assesses the interconnections between the three thematic areas, and examines whether and how international development interventions support women’s voice and leadership, including in different political systems and governance contexts.



Edited by:

Wilson Center Global Fellow for the Global Women's Leadership Initiative and Women in Public Service Project

Connect with Josephine J. Dawuni, Ph.D.

Josephine J. Dawuni, Ph.D.'s Story

Josephine J Dawuni, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Howard University where she teaches courses on African politics. Her research draws on various theoretical strands including feminist legal theories and postcolonial feminism in interrogating women in the legal professions in Africa. She is the editor (with Gretchen Bauer) of "Gender and the Judiciary in Africa: From Obscurity to Parity?", the first book on women in African judiciaries. She is currently working on a second book (co-edited with Judge Akua Kuenyehia) on “African Women Judges on International Courts” (forthcoming 2017, Routledge). In 2015 she was a Visiting Scholar at the University of Copenhagen Faculty of Law iCourts Program where she conducted research on African women on international courts and tribunals. In 2016, she was awarded the prestigious Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship to undertake a project at the Faculty of Law, University of Ghana. She is the founder and Executive Director of the non-profit Institute for African Women in Law (IAWL) which focuses on enhancing the capacity of women in the legal professions in Africa and the Diaspora through training, mentoring and research programs. In addition, she sits on the Board of the African Research Academies for Women (ARA-W). She sits on the editorial board of the Journal of International Politics and Development (JIPAD). Her research has appeared in journals such as Studies in Gender and Development in Africa, Journal of African Law and Africa Today. In 2016, she received the White House Presidential Award for her service on the Board of ARA-W. She frequently travels and makes presentations at international conferences and workshops.

Learn more about Dr. Dawuni at


Dawuni, Josephine., Kuenyehia, Akua, (eds). (2017). African Women Judges on International Courts: Untold Stories. New York: Routledge. (Forthcoming, 2017).

Dawuni, Josephine. (2017). Judge Akua Kuenyehia: Journey of a Women’s Rights Activist. In Dawuni, J., Kuenyehia, A, (eds). African Women Judges on International Courts: Untold Stories. New York: Routledge. (Forthcoming, 2017.

Dawuni, Josephine. (2016). African Women Judges on International Courts: Symbolic or Substantive Gains? iCourts Working Paper Series, No. 60. Available at SSRN:

Dawuni, Josephine and Bauer, Gretchen, (eds). (2016). Gender and the Judiciary in Africa: Moving from Obscurity to Parity? New York: Routledge.

Dawuni, Josephine. (2016). Gender and the Judiciary: An Introduction. In Bauer, Gretchen and Dawuni, Josephine (eds). In Gender and the Judiciary in Africa: Moving from Obscurity to Parity? New York: Routledge.

Dawuni, Josephine. (2016). The Paradox of Judicial Stagnation. In Bauer, Gretchen and Dawuni, Josephine (eds) In Gender and the Judiciary in Africa: Moving from Obscurity to Parity? New York: Routledge.


African Women Judges and Gender Parity on the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights (International Law Girls Blog)

Vive la Diversité! Roadmap to Gender Parity on African Regional Courts? Feminist Critiques of International Law Symposium (Volkerrechtsblog)

"As Straight as an Arrow!" Justice Amina Augie's Journey to the Supreme Court of Nigeria (Institute for African Women in Law Blog)

Race to the Top? African Women Judges and International Courts (International Law Girls Blog)

Chief of Party of the Nilinde Program, Plan International Kenya

Kate Vorley's Story

Kate Vorley is a senior development professional with more than 20 years of experience managing programs focusing on orphans and vulnerable children (OVC), HIV/AIDS, child protection, education, and social service system strengthening. For more than 10 years, Ms. Vorley has served as a leader in advancing USAID/PEPFAR’s OVC global strategy and technical direction while overseeing large-scale USAID-funded OVC projects and USAID mission portfolios in Zambia, Malawi, and Kenya. As the Program Specialist on Vulnerable Children programming with USAID/Kenya, she served as an Agreement Officer's Representative and Activity Manager overseeing $50 million of annual programming for Children Affected by HIV and AIDS. Ms. Vorley also served on the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator’s Technical Working Group, and as a core member of the team that developed USAID’s Programming Guidance for OVC. Ms. Vorley holds an MA in strategic management from Durham University in the United Kingdom.

Director, KPMG LLP
Kate Maloney

Kate Maloney's Story

Kate is a Director in KPMG’s Development & Exempt Organizations (DEO) practice and the International Development Assistance Services (IDAS) Institute, and is a Senior Advisor to the United Nations Global Account Team. She has 15 of experience providing strategic consulting services to international development organizations, private and corporate foundations, the UN, governments and NGOs to advance inclusive sustainable development. Currently, Kate is the leading KPMG’s engagement with Equal Measures 2030, a multi-stakeholder partnership designed to promote the use of data to measure progress for women and girls across the Sustainable Development Goals. She represented KPMG at the World Economic Forum where she was Project Manager and Co-author of ‘The Future Role of Civil Society,’ which explores the evolving nexus between business, civil society, government that engage in constructive collaboration and partnership to address global challenges. Prior to DEO, Kate was a member of KPMG’s Global Infrastructure Advisory practice where she advised on transportation and social infrastructure PPPs, most notably the Building Schools for the Future program in the UK.  She launched her career at the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee with oversight responsibility for foreign assistance policy and was a Country Manager at the U.S. Trade and Development Agency where she managed a portfolio of infrastructure grants across Mexico and Central America.   Kate is a Global Give Back Circle Mentor and Board Member of Mary’s Meals USA, a global non-profit that provides meals for children in their place of education. Kate has a BA in Political Science and Spanish from Wake Forest University and a MA in International Economics and Latin American Affairs from The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).

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From Evidence to Action: How Can Policy Close the Gender Gap?

Time and Place

6th Floor, The Wilson Center

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Event Details

Ambassador Deborah Birx and Global Experts Discuss Data and the Gender Gap

On June 8th, the Women in Public Service Project, Plan International USA, and the Environmental Change and Security Program brought in experts from public and private sectors to tackle the issue of connecting data and evidence with real-world advancement in promoting gender parity. The event began with the keynote address by Ambassador Deborah Birx, Coordinator of the United States Government Activities to Combat HIV/AIDS and U.S. Special Representative for Global Heath Diplomacy, followed by a panel discussion moderated by Roger-Mark De Souza, Director of Population, Environmental Security, and Resilience at the Wilson Center. The conversation was fueled by insights from Danielle Grant, Director for Health Plan International USA, Kate Maloney, Director at KPMG LLP, and Gwen K. Young, Director of the Global Women’s Leadership Initiative and the Women in Public Service Project at the Wilson Center.

The panelists offered different approaches to deconstructing the gender gap in data, discussed major innovations to bridge that data gap, and together pinpointed opportunities for cross-sector partnerships to leverage the progress toward women leadership and political participation. 

Key Quotes

Ambassador Deborah Birx

Ambassador Deborah Birx

“Less than 40% of the sexual partners of young women and young men are virally suppressed, meaning you have no impact on the epidemic. That’s why not only having data is important but age and sex-disaggregated data is absolutely key.”

“It’s important to have data but it’s also important to have it visualized in a way that program managers and ministers of health can see why they have to change the policies and investment structures for young women.”

Danielle Grant

Danielle Grant

“In Malawi, we are working with boys also. They are part of the environment and we need to address that.”

“Working with the girls, we’ve learned that socially and economically empowered youth tend to have reduced vulnerability and it can lead to reduction in HIV/AIDS infections.”

“Changing gender norms takes time, but at least if we start with the 10 to 14, maybe by 18 or 19 there’s a change in some of their norms.”

Kate Maloney

Kate Maloney

"You need the numbers, but those numbers mean nothing if people can’t take them, translate them and put them to action."

"There is space for us to engage in pro bono work and there’s not an expected financial return for KPMG. This is about our citizenship. This is creating change for the world we want."

"For business, we would be nowhere without healthy, educated consumers and educated, healthy labor force. We are only as good as the human capital in the country."

"Businesses have that obligation and opportunity to influence in a positive way policy and the political environment."

Gwen Young

Gwen Young

“The notion [of the index] is not to rank the countries but to show the government institutions over time what is happening. It’s about inclusive decision-making, changing the way solutions are forged, and getting to the innovative governance that reflects the need of the community.”

“Data is not only quantitative – it’s also qualitative.”

"The next step is to convene and hold policy dialogues around specific pieces of this data set to explain what it means in order to make this really implementable."

As demonstrated by the speakers, evidence and data plays a pivotal role in advocating for actions towards gender equality. While we acknowledge the fact that numbers cannot stand alone by themselves, it is crucial for us to initiate open dialogues on accessibility, visualization, and implementation through new and existing cross-sector partnerships. Support and endorsements from private enterprises would enable data like the Women in Public Service’s index of global women leadership in government to be engage a larger audience and foster fruitful discussions around inclusion and diversity.

By Hoa Nguyen, WPSP Intern



Plan International USA
Plan International USA
The Environmental Change and Security Program at The Wilson Center


Cover Photo: World Bank Photo Collection via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Featured Speakers


How did gender influence the 2016 presidential election? For Presidential Gender Watch 2016, the question extended well beyond the fact that for the first time, a major party nominated a woman as its presidential candidate. It even went beyond the majority-female electorate that chose the new commander-in-chief. Presidential Gender Watch’s new report highlights the answers to those questions.

Presidential Gender Watch 2016 was launched in 2015 as a joint project of the Barbara Lee Family Foundation and Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) to track, analyze and illuminate gender dynamics in the 2016 presidential election.



Edited by:

Assistant Professor of Political Science at Rutgers-Camden and Scholar at the Center for American Women and Politics, Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University



This consulting report was compiled as a capstone project through the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University

The Women in Public Service Project (WPSP) is the flagship program of the Wilson Center’s Global Women’s Leadership Initiative. Founded in 2011 to conduct action-oriented research, WPSP’s overarching objective has been to encourage and empower women around the world to achieve equal representation in elected and appointed political and policy leadership positions by 2050. However, in order to document a country’s journey towards gender equality, the Wilson Center must first determine the status quo regarding women in politics and public administration a task academics and practitioners in the field continue to struggle with due to limited data availability and cross-national cultural and historical variance. Initial findings, nevertheless, suggest that men and women still do not have the same opportunities to take part in the political and policymaking process.

The Wilson Center’s goal is to advocate for institutional change on a global stage, while fostering transparency and accountability. As such, our most important task as the Georgetown University Capstone Team was to systematically collect and organize evidence of women’s political and policy leadership in Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, especially in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany and Sweden. Moving forward, our database will help WPSP track the representation of women in national leadership positions and the incidence of factors that may promote or impede their ability to be elevated to such roles.



Edited by:

McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University
McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University
McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University
McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University
McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University
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Daily Diplomacy: A Discussion with Women Ambassadors

Time and Place

6th Floor, The Wilson Center

Event Details

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

On Tuesday, May 16th, the Women in Public Service Project (WPSP) hosted the Public Leadership Education Network's (PLEN) first Daily Diplomacy: A Discussion with Women Ambassadors. Through this event, young women had the opportunity to learn from women leaders, but also to meet them and to develop their networking skills.

WPSP is proud to support this initiative, as fostering young women leadership is essential to achieve gender parity. The participating students, representing the future women in international policy, heard stories and advice from Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and the first woman to be U.S. Ambassador to Liberia, and H.E. Ambassador Hassana Alidou, Ambassador from Niger to the United States. The event was moderated by Luiza Savage, Editorial Director for Events at POLITICO Live, with introductory comments from Gwen K. Young, Director of the Global Women's Leadership Initiative and Women in Public Service Project.

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Gwen K. Young, Luiza Savage, Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield, and H.E. Ambassador Hassana Alidou.

During this discussion, the women ambassadors spoke about their extensive experience working in the highest positions within the foreign policy sphere. Through this moderated Q&A session, the audience got an inside look into the professional lives, skills, and experiences of some of the most powerful women policymakers in the international field.

"Of the 4,600 ambassadors who have represented the United States in foreign countries, only nine percent have been women", noted Gwen K. Young as she opened the discussion. 

"You do get treated differently as a women, and you have to be conscious of that all the time, when you walked in rooms", said Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield. The former Ambassador to Liberia remembered: "I have walked into a room with a male colleague from Washington, and people would assume that he was the ambassador. Well, I love it, I just sit back and watch it. I decided a long time ago that I was never going to take these things personally. If they want to talk to my colleague for 20 minutes about what the ambassador think, and then discover that this person is not the ambassador, that their problem, not mine. I had fun watching it."

H.E. Ambassador Hassana Alidou also swept aside this sexist representation, urging all women in the audience to "consider that you are as capable as any person". However, you also have to be aware of that environment and to deal with it, explained the Ambassador from Niger: "Through my career, I had to be the leader of a male team. You are breaking the stereotypes, and it is not easy for the other side. So you have to understand that for the people you lead, this situation is totally new, and be aware of how they accept female leadership."

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H.E. Ambassador Hassana Alidou, Ambassador from Niger to the United States.

Nicknamed "People's Ambassador", Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield also shared the key of her success: "getting to know people, showing that I care about them." She highlighted the fact that searching for a mentor doesn't necessarily means looking for someone older than you or in a higher position: "Your best mentor is the person like you, which experience the same things as you," she said.

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Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield, Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.


By Amelie Petitdemange, WPSP Intern

Featured Speakers


Through the Delphi method, this paper offers a new perspective from the voices of Emirati women in politics, policy, business, and university on the status of women in their country in light of the international treaties, conventions, and laws available for women’s empowerment. Drawing on true stories from daily life, it reveals that culture in the UAE is in the process of changing. Despite criticism from some human rights organizations and UN member states with regard to the UAE’s reservations to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Emirati women concede that they have made unprecedented gains ahead of some legal reforms deemed necessary by the international community for women to achieve their full rights in the country. 

With eight women ministers out of 29 total cabinet members, 70 percent women university graduates, and an increasing number of women pursuing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), among other achievements, an unspoken set of cultural norms has developed in the face of restrictive family laws and traditional, and, according to some women, outmoded cultural practices. This paper examines the mechanisms by which the UAE achieved this culture change, drawing on Emiratis’ answers to the major questions of this era with regard to the global women’s movement and their position within it. Emiratis address whether there is a women’s movement in the UAE; what women leaders bring to the table; the challenges Emirati women still face; the relationship between Islam and women’s rights; and the UAE’s influence with regard to women’s rights on the region and globally. 

The interviews suggest that Emirati families are naturally more inclined today to promote their daughters’ education and choice of career, husband, and other life decisions despite having restrictive laws available to them to curtail such freedoms. It concludes that these cultural changes are the side-, if not directly intended, effect of a top-down strategy by the Emirati government in which women leaders, by their very existence, make it possible for a new national identity vis-à-vis Islam to come into play. As the state embraces both women’s leadership and Shari’a, Shari’a is used less and less as a tool to restrict women’s rights, and women’s rights and the state’s religious identity are naturally de-conflicted. In a country that must navigate an Islamic identity, it may at times be beneficial to proceed first by example rather than legal reforms that appear to contradict Shari’a in order to avoid triggering backlash that could undermine progress. 

These conclusions offer a new context by which to transcend the limitations of the entrenched debate within the international human rights community between cultural relativists and those who view human rights as universal. On this third path, culture transcends organically from within as a result of silent but profoundly powerful example, and in the context of Muslim societies, modernity – or women’s liberation – no longer holds dramatic consequences for relations between the sexes.

Finally, the case of the UAE provokes an interesting question about definitions of democratic governance and democracy’s relationship to women’s empowerment and freedom. In comparing the UAE to the United States, for example, the paper’s findings reveal that, as with legal reform, women are only truly empowered when there is a change in culture and consciousness within a society, regardless of whether its government is labeled a “democracy” or an absolute monarchy. It is the putting into practice of the principles of democracy, rather than merely its procedural elements such as elections by majority, that leads to progress. 

Women Behind the Scenes by The Wilson Center on Scribd

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Leadership for Stability and Security

Time and Place

6th Floor, The Wilson Center

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Event Details

Around the world, bold leadership is needed to combat high crime rates, non-state armed groups, terrorism and war. Women leaders are uniquely positioned to address these critical issues.

Women and girls are disproportionately impacted by violence and conflict, and are often the first to detect insecurity. It is for these same reasons that women leaders are well-positioned to mitigate the impact of insecurity on women and girls, as well as civilians in general, to foster a culture of peace. Women leaders at multiple levels are actively pursuing greater security and stability for the sake of not only women and girls, but also their community as a whole.  

On April 25, 2017, the Wilson Center's Women in Public Service Project and Plan International USA welcomed Gabriela Bucher, Executive Director of Plan International Colombia; Robin Lerner, Senior Policy Advisor and Counselor in the Secretary’s Office of Global Women's Issues, U.S. Department of State; and H.E. Dr. Joyce Banda, Former President of Malawi and WPSP Distinguished Fellow. They discussed how women are making a difference to proactively advance the security and stability of societies. The conversation was moderated by WPSP Director Gwen K. Young, with opening remarks from Dr. Tessie San Martin, President and CEO of Plan International USA.

Key Quotes

Dr. Tessie San Martin

  • “When we talk about women’s empowerment, we focus on the economics of it. Today we are discussing an other important dimension, that is not as often discuss: the role of women and girls in creating the conditions for sustainable peace and stability. And this is actually a precondition for sustainable economic growth. You can’t be talking about economic opportunities and growth if you don’t have the fundamentals.”

Gabriela Bucher

  • “Colombia is coming out of an important negotiation with the largest illegal armed group [the FARC]. It’s definitely a turning page in the country, and the actual peace deal is very much recognizing women as leaders of the reconstruction. It also recognizes that the majority of the victims have been women and children.”
  • “In Colombia, we are below average in terms of female representation in Congress, that’s around 20%. But we are particularly low in terms of mayors: less than 10% of municipalities are headed by women. And it is actually at this local level that a woman leader would be impactful.”
  • “We should build self-esteem with girls more than imposing quotas that we wouldn’t be able to achieve. I was speaking to a Congresswoman recently, and she was saying that yes, she had been elected, but that she still felt in a male dominated environment, where she couldn’t act in the way she wants. Even if quotas are a good step, a wider transformation is required.”
  • “In Colombia, an average girl spends 18 hours a week with domestic chores, while it's on average 9 hours for a man. We need to negotiate those gender roles, and the most basic distribution of time at home. (…) If that time is liberated, then there’s more possibility for women with talent to run for office.”

Robin Lerner

  • “We have to realize that leadership doesn’t have a specific face or a specific level, especially in post conflicts and transitioning societies. (...) If we understand that then we can understand what kind of leadership we might be looking at for women and help them to achieve it in their communities.”
  • “There’s an increasing amount of research that talks about where women are absent. I would like us to step back and look at what we know women are doing and where they are, how they adapt to a changing environment. I was in Croatia in the 90’s and in Kosovo in the 20’s. I watched women going from being the face of sexual violence in conflicts to the new civil society, to the new economic drivers for their families, to the communicators between international community and their own population, and the glue that held it together because of their ability to adapt.”
  • "During Ebola, women were disproportionally affected by the disease, because they were working in care sectors. But at the same time, because women were there so much, they could be the communicators to the community about the harmful facts and how to mitigate the transfer of Ebola. And U.S. government responses were included how we empower women to mitigate."

H.E. Dr. Joyce Banda

  • “I come from a country like Malawi were we have never seen any conflicts at all. So why Malawi, one of the poorest country of the world, has enjoyed that kind of peace? (...) When women are in charge, when women control the land, when the children belong to the women, when domestic violence is minimum, then you find more tranquility and peace. We need to see what role women has played in avoiding conflicts in Malawi.”
  • “There is a link between economic empowerment and social empowerment. You can gain respect, you can make decisions about your life, you can provide a better health and education to your child if you are economical empowered.”

As emphasized by the speakers’ statements throughout the discussion, women are often more impacted than men by violent conflicts. But they are also a response to those conflicts, especially as peace facilitators and communicators. Post-conflicts situations are a fertile ground for women leadership. However, to allow this empowerment, societies need to assure high education for girls, economic independence for women, and gender equality at home.

By Amelie Petitdemange, WPSP Intern

Header Photo: Sojoud Elgarrai - UNAMID (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


Featured Speakers


The 2016 election illuminated the challenges that American women face in running for federal office. Not only did the first woman presidential candidate from a major political party lose, the United States made no progress in increasing the number of women in Congress. Not only did the first woman presidential candidate from a major political party lose, the United States made no progress in increasing the number of women in Congress.1 Two years earlier, in 2014, women had surpassed more than 100 seats for the first time in history; a symbolic milestone in the long struggle for women’s equality in US government. Yet with 2016’s stalled progress, it will take more than century at our current rate for our legislature to achieve equal representation. Statistics conveyed by organizations like the Center for American Women in Politics4 and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research highlight this disparity: women comprise roughly 51 percent of the population and 53 percent of the electorate but only 20 percent of Congress. Women are not the only constituency impacted by unequal representation – our entire policymaking process suffers. Since 2000, Rachel’s Network has made the case that gender disparity in government not only stymies equality, it has serious implications for environmental policy as well.


Edited by:

Executive Director, Plan International Colombia
Gabriela Bucher

Gabriela Bucher's Story

Gabriela Bucher is the Executive Director of Plan International Columbia. She joined Plan in March 2001, working at Plan UK before becoming a Regional Resource Mobilization Manager for the Americas in Panama. In November 2006, she was appointed Country Director and transferred to Colombia.

Prior to joining Plan, Bucher was the Fundraising Manager at Children of the Andes in the United Kingdom. She has a Bachelor degree in Philosophy and Arts and a Graduate degree in History. She specialized her studies in the field of Non-Governmental Organization Management.

International Consultant, Gender Equality in Public Administration, Governance and Peacebuilding Cluster, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Ciara Lee

Ciara Lee's Story

Ciara Lee is an international consultant with the Responsive and Accountable Institutions Team in UNDP’s Governance and Peacebuilding Cluster. Ciara focuses primarily on the Gender Equality in Public Administration (GEPA) Global Project and local governance. She joined UNDP in 2014, working on various aspects gender and democratic governance, including on issues related to conflict-related violence, extractive industries, and women’s representation in public life.

Prior to joining UNDP, Ciara worked with Freedom House Detroit, coordinating job training and access to health services for asylum seekers and victims of human trafficking. In 2012 she worked at the Southern African Media and Gender Institute on public service employment equity, prison policy reform and various research projects on gender-based violence.

While in graduate school, Ciara was a research assistant in the Office of Health Research and a teaching assistant for the Literature and Africana Studies program. She holds an undergraduate degree in Literature and Economics and a graduate degree in World Politics and Peace and Security Studies.

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Numbers Matter: Data Driving Global Parity

Time and Place

5th Floor, The Wilson Center

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Event Details

The first in a nationwide series of launches, this event marked the introduction of a data driven approach to advancing women’s representation in policy and political leadership. The event included an analysis of the findings from five initial case studies around national level data from the United States, Canada, Sweden, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

On May 3rd, a panel with WPSP Data Partners discussed the data landscape, noticeable gaps in the numbers, and opportunities to leverage this data to drive institutional change toward global gender parity. The speakers were Gwen K. Young, Director of The Women in Public Service Project, Mallory Barg Bulman, Vice President of Research and Evaluation, Partnership for Public Service, Ciara Lee, International Consultant, Gender Equality in Public Administration, Governance and Peacebuilding Cluster, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Dr. Chantal de Jonge Oudraat, President of Women in International Security (WIIS), and Cynthia Terrell, Founder and Director of Representation2020 and FairVote.

Key Quotes

Gwen Young

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“One of our tools is to build out this data framework. We are aiming to have a global index where we are able to look at where women are in leadership positions vis-a-vis other indicators. To really give us a snapshot of where women are, where they exercise leadership and power, what the barriers are, and to drive institutional change.”

“We are looking at data across the government. So not just how many presidents or how many parliamentarians, which is a lot of what we see in the most accessible data; but public administration - where do they sit in national security, how many mayors, where do they sit in police forces, where do they sit in judicial forces.”

Mallory Barg Bulman

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“This is an important effort when you look at gender parity and trying to reach that goal of 50/50. First of all if you don’t know where you are, it’s hard to know how more you have to go. Also, just the transparency of the data alone really helps drive the change, it starts the conversation and gets that into the discourse.”

Ciara Lee

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“From a UNDP perspective, we noticed, on a global scale, that public administration is often always left out of the discourse on women’s leadership in government, and is often left out of the data and evidence.”

“For us, public administration is so important first and foremost because it is a normative issue, it’s an issue of rights for women to be represented in the public administration. Second of all, the public administration is often the single largest employer in a country, so it’s also a matter of women’s economic empowerment, and the impact on the economy. Thirdly, we find that the influence or power of civil servants is often overlooked and the way that they can decide how policy gets implemented, what gets prioritized, and also as policymakers themselves. When we add up all these components of the public administration, we can see that having gender balance in the civil service will impact government but also the state society relationship as the implementers of policy.”

Chantal de Jonge Oudraat

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“It is very important to have the numbers out there; the numbers allow us to hold political leaders accountable.”

“Implementation remains really difficult. Having data to be able to show whether there is progress or not, is really important.”

Cynthia Terrell

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“Parity means racial representation, geographic representation and partisan representation.”

“The reason that data is important to me is that it should drive our strategies for change. If we really are data experts and we embrace the fact that data really should motivate our decisions, then we should invest in the things that are shown to elect more women. Those things include quotas, they include voting systems, they include internal legislative measures, is there onsite child care, how well are women paid once they are in government, and how are they selected via committee chair. The data shows that’s what gets women elected. The data doesn’t support just doing what we are doing alone anymore.”

As emphasized by the speakers, data is a powerful tool to achieve gender parity, especially in public administration. The new Women in Public Service Project data framework measures not just how many women are heads of government or in parliaments, but also women's representation at all levels of political and policy leadership from the national down to the local level, and across multiple sectors of public service. Working with data partners including Boardwalk Leadership, the Partnership for Public Service, Representation2020, and the United Nations Development Programme, WPSP will deliver the world's most comprehensive collection of sex-disaggregated data on women's leadership. Explore the numbers today at

Featured Speakers

Vice President of Research and Evaluation, Partnership for Public Service
Mallory Barg Bulman

Mallory Barg Bulman's Story

Mallory Barg Bulman serves as the Vice President of Research and Evaluation for the Partnership for Public Service. In her role, Ms. Barg Bulman leads the Partnership’s thought leadership agenda and manages a body of evidence-based research on government management issues, which includes overseeing the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government® rankings. She is also responsible for leading the Partnership’s evaluations of key programs and serves on the organization’s senior leadership team.

Ms. Bulman has more than ten years of experience overseeing the conceptualization, design, analysis and production of quality research products designed to improve government operations. Ms. Barg Bulman has delivered presentations before Congressional staffs, agency officials, academic leaders, and private sector officials on topics such as interagency collaboration, shared services, human capital management, organizational transformation, performance management, implementation of the GPRA Modernization Act, pandemic response, and emergency preparedness. Prior to joining the Partnership, she was a Senior Analyst in the Strategic Issues team of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), Congress’ analytic and investigative arm.

Ms. Barg Bulman holds a MPA in Program Evaluation and Policy Analysis and a BA in Human Services from the George Washington University. She is also the proud mom of two boys.

Senior Policy Advisor and Counselor in the Secretary’s Office of Global Women's Issues, U.S. Department of State
Robin Lerner

Robin Lerner's Story

Robin Lerner is a Senior Advisor and Counselor in the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues. In this position, she serves as a key advisor on adolescent girls education and empowerment globally, economic empowerment, and gender-based violence, among other issues. Ms. Lerner previously served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Private Sector Exchange at the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). In this capacity, she oversaw the J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program, a public-private partnership mechanism which annually brings some 300,000 foreign citizens - mostly youth - to the United States to study, build skills and teach through sponsored programs. Ms. Lerner came to the Department from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee where she served as Counsel, leading on the Committee's policy and budget positions regarding gender equity, human rights, refugees, migration, trafficking in persons, international education and public diplomacy. While on the Committee, she was a leading voice on public and privately-funded educational exchange programs and mechanisms, as well as virtual and digital educational and cultural exchange. She was the lead drafter of a number of human rights bills and resolutions on women's and girls, trafficking in persons and freedom of the press, among others. Prior to the Committee, she worked in various capacities for the Department of State for nearly seven years, including in the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, the Bureau of Legislative Affairs and U.S. Embassies Cairo and Baghdad. Ms. Lerner, a lawyer by training, began her career as a Legal and Human Rights Advisor for Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Missions in Croatia and Kosovo, where she handled violence against women, human trafficking, and minority and property rights.



This paper seeks to understand the impact women’s political networks have globally in supporting women overcome the universal cultural and structural barriers they face in engaging in a political career. With best practices from national, regional and international networks, this paper explores the role and modus operandi networks have adopted in supporting women running for national office in congressional or parliamentary elections, enhancing their effectiveness and shaping their leadership once in office. Through desk research of existing literature, interviews with women engaged in national politics and experts in this field, this paper also seeks to raise questions on the role of technology, the media and the correlation between women’s participation in networks and their substantive representation.

This paper was launched during a panel at the Wilson Center on April 6, 2017. Watch the full launch conversation here.


Women's Political Networks Complete Guide by The Wilson Center on Scribd



Edited by:

Senior Gender Expert and Director of Girls Education, Room to Read


"In recent years, the role of women in the workplace has received significant attention. Much of the literature has focused on careers in general, on women in technology, female entrepreneurs, or women in the private sector. Yet not enough attention had been paid to government, specifically to women in the national security field. This study aims to provide data demonstrating the current state of national security female employees, tracing their numbers from undergraduate and graduate programs through entry level and middle-management positions, and on through cabinet level positions. The goal is to explore the points at which their representation diminishes.

The main research questions that this study examines are as follows: What is the representation of women in the national security sector at the beginning of their careers? What is the representation of women in national security leadership positions? If there is a disparity between the two, where does the national security sector lose women in the process? What are some of the policies that can be adopted to retain or reintroduce women into the national security sector? What are the on-ramps and off-ramps over the course of a career?" 



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"The Plan of Action is an open invitation to parliaments- to look within; to examine critically their mode of operation and functioning; to assess, evaluate and engage in reform; and to both progress and lead the way. It does this by encouraging parliaments to design a process suited to their national context in order to initiate and implement gender-sensitive reform.

This toolkit aims to provide parliaments with a methodology that facilitates that reform process. All reform processes must begin with an evaluation- a stock-take of current practice and a discussion about possible improvement. By structuring that discussion, this self-assessment toolkit is a useful first step towards gender reform."



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Madame President: The Extraordinary Journey of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Time and Place

6th Floor, The Wilson Center

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On March 13, 2017, the Women in Public Service Project and the Africa Program at the Wilson Center hosted a book launch with New York Times White House Correspondent and former Wilson Center Public Policy Fellow Helene Cooper. In her book Madame President: The Extraordinary Journey of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Cooper discusses the personal political journey of the Liberian President and first African woman to hold the office.

Madame PresidentOpening remarks were given by the Honorable Jane Harman, the Director, President and CEO of the Wilson Center, who is notably the first female president of the Center. Before reading excerpts from Madame President, Cooper spoke about her personal experience as a native Liberian who came to the United States as a refugee. A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and New York Times Correspondent, Cooper believes Africa is the “toughest place on Earth” to be a woman. Madame President tells the story of the coup that brought Ellen Johnson Sirleaf into power and the Liberian women’s movement in taking political power.

Following her discussion and reading of her new book, Cooper spoke with Gwen K. Young, the director of the Women in Public Service Project and Global Women’s Leadership Initiative at the Wilson Center, and answered audience questions. Cooper noted that the positive changes that President Sirleaf has made in Liberian culture and law, including a movement against sexual and gender-based violence, relief of national debts, and general developments in the strength of Liberia’s democracy, will not easily be taken back upon the election of the next Liberian president.

Despite her success in the international field, Sirleaf remained tied to Liberia through maintaining connections with market women, who ultimately were a major force in her successful campaign. Dr. Joyce Banda, the former President of Malawi and Distinguished Fellow at the Wilson Center, was in attendance and commended President Sirleaf for the attention and advocacy she has had for market women.


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"This Issues Brief aims to clearly delineate the issues at stake by analyzing the results of a first study specifically devoted to the subject of sexism, harassment and violence against women in parliament. It seeks to clarify what this phenomenon consists of, where, why and in what forms it occurs, who are the perpetrators and what is its prevalence."



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"This report serves as a technical background paper for the Meeting of Experts, in the light of the approved agenda. The issue of violence is multifaceted, and not all dimensions can be discussed in this report. The report does not focus on specific areas of violence such as child labour and forced labour, which have been addressed in detail through recent standards. As violence in the world of work affects all sectors of economic activity around the world, including the private and public sectors and the formal and informal economies, the report examines the issue from the perspective of a general protection for all. It focuses on the types of violence in the world of work where international standards are absent or limited, particularly on physical violence, such as abuse; psychological violence, such as mobbing and bullying; and sexual violence, such as sexual harassment. It also takes into account the variety of workers and sectors affected."



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The Inaugural Haleh Esfandiari Forum with Secretary Madeleine Albright

Time and Place

6th Floor, The Wilson Center

Event Details

The Honorable Madeleine Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State, discussed women’s empowerment in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

On March 29, 2017 the Middle East Program, the Global Women’s Leadership Initiative, and the Women in Public Service Project at the Wilson Center hosted “The Inaugural Haleh Esfandiari Forum Event with Secretary Madeleine Albright. The Honorable Jane Harman, Director, President, and CEO of the Wilson Center, moderated the discussion. Henri J. Barkey, Director of the Middle East Program at the Wilson Center, delivered introductory remarks. In his opening remarks, Barkey thanked Albright for being the first keynote speaker of the Haleh Esfandiari Forum and stated the purpose of the forum is to highlight women who have made a significant impact and to promote women’s empowerment in the MENA region.

Albright began her remarks by speaking about her experience as a former Wilson Center Fellow and the importance of the Wilson Center as a place that is unafraid to shed light on tough issues like women’s empowerment in the Middle East. Albright credited Haleh Esfandiari as an individual who has been a force for change in women’s empowerment and commended the Wilson Center for establishing the Haleh Esfandiari Forum to promote public discussion of women’s empowerment in the MENA region. She stressed the importance of increased political and economic participation by women, which have been overlooked as a marginal concern, when compared to the “hard” issues of big power politics and the military. Albright also mentioned the correlation between gender discrimination in the region and women having the lowest labor force participation rate and the lowest rate of political representation in the world.

Albright revealed that as co-chair of the Middle East Strategy Task Force at the Atlantic Council, she had devised a two-prong, durable U.S. strategy toward the Middle East that accurately reflects the ongoing issues in the region today. The first prong involves the use of military and diplomatic tools to wind down civil wars and achieve political settlements; the second prong, which Albright stressed was more important, provides long-term stability in the region by supporting “bottom-up” efforts of social activists and civic entrepreneurs while encouraging governments to invest in the education and empowerment of their people. Albright believes this would be the best way to address societal, economic, and governance issues and to unlock the significant human potential of women in the Middle East.

Albright then commented on the alarming number of women who have been targeted because they are involved in political activity or simply expressing their political views, an issue that is often overlooked. She continued by saying that women have played a significant role in organizing opposition to autocratic regimes, stressing that the way to protect women in the Middle East is to allow them to exercise their political rights.

Harman began the conversation by recounting her experience attending the “Fourth World Conference on Women” in Beijing with Albright in 1995. It was at the conference, Harman continued, that then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton pronounced “human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights,” which became an unofficial the motto of the women’s rights movement. Harman also spoke of the “50x50” pins she and Albright donned to recognize the Women in Public Service Project (WPSP)’s “50x50 vision” of 50 percent representation of women in political and policy leadership worldwide by 2050. The WPSP was founded at the State Department in 2011 under then-Secretary Hillary Clinton, and moved to the Wilson Center when Harman assumed the position of Director, President, and CEO. Harman highlighted the WPSP’s work developing a comprehensive index of women in public service leadership globally.

In the Q&A session, Esfandiari commented how the United States has always been a place that has welcomed people who are looking for a better life and future. Esfandiari questioned what could be done so that people would continue experience the standards previous generations did and if the “doors” of the United States continued to stay open. Albright answered the question by mentioning her own personal experience coming to the United States as a refugee from Czechoslovakia and how it eventually led to her obtaining her citizenship. 

By Oumama Kabli, Middle East Program 

The Haleh Esfandiari Forum at the Wilson Center is a series of public events focused on women’s empowerment in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. This joint initiative by the Middle East Program (MEP) and the Global Women’s Leadership Initiative (GWLI) honors Haleh Esfandiari’s commitment to promoting women’s empowerment and her leadership of MEP from its inception in 1998 through 2015. 


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Chief Justice, Brazilian Federal Supreme Court
Carmen Lucia

Chief Justice Cármen Lúcia's Story

Justice Cármen Lúcia was nominated to the Supreme Court in 2006 by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. During her time on the bench, she also served as chief justice of the Superior Electoral Court of Brazil. Prior to her appointment, she served as prosecutor for the state of Minas Gerais. Justice Cármen Lúcia obtained her law degree at PUC Minas, where she was a professor of constitutional law, and has a master's degree in Constitutional Law from UFMG. She recently announced plans to begin teaching law again in 2018.

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A Conversation at Critical Moment with Chief Justice Cármen Lúcia of the Brazilian Supreme Court

Time and Place

6th Floor, The Wilson Center

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Event Details

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

The second woman to hold the position of Chief Justice of the Brazilian Federal Tribunal (STF), Cármen Lúcia Antunes Rocha leads the judicial branch at a critical moment in Brazilian history. The Lava Jato investigations have exposed widespread corruption and questionable campaign financing practices involving senior figures in the public and private sectors. In the coming months and years, the STF—Brazil’s Supreme Court—will take a leading role trying many of these cases, including criminal cases involving members of the Brazilian Congress and of the presidential cabinet. As president of the Court, Justice Cármen Lúcia will need to guard it against perceptions of partisan bias as it passes judgement on powerful politicians. At the same time, she and her colleagues will have to preserve the mission of the STF as a constitutional court while tackling a number of criminal cases imposed on the court by the constitutionally mandated “privileged forum” enjoyed in Brazil by federal elected officials and members of the presidential cabinet—itself a topic of controversy.

Since her term began in September 2016, Chief Justice Cármen Lúcia has already withstood several early challenges, including the untimely passing earlier this year of Justice Teori Zavascki, the Lava Jato rapporteur, and the recent conclusion of the Odebrecht plea bargain testimonies, which have led the federal prosecutor's office to request approval from the Supreme Court to open of dozens of new inquiries related to the case, leading potentially to more criminal indictments. 

Bio: Justice Cármen Lúcia was nominated to the Supreme Court in 2006 by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. During her time on the bench, she also served as chief justice of the Superior Electoral Court of Brazil. Prior to her appointment, she served as prosecutor for the state of Minas Gerais. Justice Cármen Lúcia obtained her law degree at PUC Minas, where she was a professor of constitutional law, and has a master's degree in Constitutional Law from UFMG. She recently announced plans to begin teaching law again in 2018.

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International Gender and Development Specialist, Political Strategist, and Former Senior Coordinator for Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment, USAID

Susan A. Markham's Story

Susan Markham is a passionate advocate for gender equality and female empowerment speaking often about the essential role of women in politics and development. With experience in over 50 countries, she is a strategic leader who is appreciated for her energy, straight talk and insight, connecting academics, activists, implementers and ideas across sectors. 

Susan most recently served at the Unites States Agency for International Development (USAID) as the Senior Coordinator for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment. In this position, she advised Agency leadership on gender policy issues, led cross-sectoral program efforts in resilience, adolescent girls’ education and energy, and represented the Agency to the White House and other departments, governments, civil society organizations and private partners. Previously, she led the efforts of the National Democratic Institute (NDI) to increase women’s political participation globally as voters, activists, candidates and officeholders. In this role, she was especially proud of her work in Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen to help women find and use their voices in their countries. 

Susan worked earlier in her career in U.S. politics bringing to life her Master’s thesis that focused on women running for political office. At EMILY’s List, she ran the Political Opportunity Program (POP) that recruited, trained and supported women running for office at the state and local office. She also managed the Campaign Corps program that brought young people into the political process to both engage them in elections and help pro-choice, Democratic women candidates win. In the process, she helped other organizations like Hopefund and the New Organizing Institute create similar programs specifically focused on young people of color and the (then) new online tools. Previously, she worked at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), Participation 2000, and managed and raised funds for five federal and state campaigns, learning more out on the road than any political science or psychology class could ever teach. 

Susan now works and lives in Washington, DC with her family and two dogs. She’s earned degrees from George Washington University (Masters of Arts) and THE Ohio State University (Bachelor of Arts, Political Science and International Studies), but looks forward to learning new things every day. 


The Women in Public Service Project (WPSP) at the Wilson Center aims to have 50% of government leadership positions filled by women by 2050. The reality today is that we are at about 22% globally. 

In this vein, the WPSP and Women@theTable hosted an international summit to determine as a network what is working in increasing women’s participation; what are barriers to the realization of legislation, laws and commitments; and what commitments and actions women in office can take to realize gender parity in the public sector. The conversation also emphasized the importance of leveraging data and research for action. 

Women from 24 countries worked toward three overarching outcomes:

  • Building the platform and network of women in office; 
  • Determining how women in office can work together and use power effectively across sectors, governments and countries; and
  • Leveraging commitments and tools to turn solutions into action. 

The room was full of energy as we looked out on Mont Blanc and Lac du Geneve, fitting scenery for a goal of gender equality in government.

The full day of engagement included presentations of the latest research on where women are in government, how laws and legislation both promote and hinder women’s power, and how to advance women’s labor force participation.  Breakout groups and plenaries allowed the women executives, legislators and judges to work with their peers, discussing the research, realities and concrete actions to move forward toward gender parity.
The day ended with a public panel with experienced women leaders Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Hon. Hina Jilani and H.E. Dr. Joyce Banda. The panelists talked about the progress that has been made toward parity and how and where to keep pushing forward. The discussion focused not only on the tools to equip current and emerging leaders, but also substantive actions that can be taken to foster political will and build an evidence base to advocate for women’s leadership globally.

Through conversations spanning sectors and regions, summit participants developed actionable solutions to critical barriers to leadership and built a transnational network of women leaders at the forefront of the effort toward global gender parity. 


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Women’s Leadership in Public Administration: The Impact on Sustainable Development and Sustaining Peace

Time and Place

UN Building, New York City

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On February 22, 2017 the Women in Public Service Project and UNDP hosted the 61st Session of Commission on the Status of Women side event on “Women’s Leadership in Public Administration: The Impact on Sustainable Development and Sustaining Peace” with Lesley Connolly, policy analyst for the International Peace Institute (IPI), Sherri Goodman, Senior Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and Founder of the Military Advisory Board at CNA, and Kweilin Ellingrud, Partner and Co-leader of McKinsey's Lean Management practice. The event focused on the role women leaders play in peace and development.

Patrick Keuleers, Director and Chief of Profession at the Governance and Peacebuilding Bureau for Policy and Programme Support at UNDP New York offered opening remarks. He introduced the event, partnership and case studies of the Gender Equality in Public Administration (GEPA) report. Gwen K. Young, Director of the Global Women’s Leadership Initiative and the Women in Public Service Project at the Wilson Center, introduced the panelists.

Connolly kicked off the panel with her remarks on civil war and the role of women in the peace process. With 90% of civil wars occurring in countries already affected by conflict, she emphasized the critical role women play in peace processes and conflict, noting women are impacted by war in different ways than men.

Further, Connolly identified the main barriers to women's involvement in peacemaking: women's issues are usually considered human security, not state security. For example, the Mali peace process in 2015 committed to including women, but mediators could not be convinced of the importance of women. Out of the 100 delegates, only five women were included. Currently, there are seven models of means to involving women. Ending her remarks, she stressed that women's groups have never derailed a peace process and in fact ensured that peace agreements signed lasted longer and provided more durable peace solutions.

Goodman continued the panel discussion, this time focusing on women and the environment. She began by explaining that militaries create waste and are the largest energy user in the United States; thus, a shift in energy use in the military will impact the market. Further, environmental conditions such as drought create political tensions within countries. For example, prolonged drought in Syria exacerbated political tensions, and drought in Russia and wheat producing countries that export to the Middle East were a root cause of the Arab Spring.  

When asked what that means for women in environmental governance and in national security, Goodman responded that when women are new in a field, they advance by being as good as or better than the men, and bring innovative and creative opinions to the bale. As groups are diversified, so are the solutions that are created. Men typically make decisions in a head to head way, where there are winners and losers; but, success will come from lifting all boats, Goodwin explains. Further, women’s leadership is key in issues such as water where women are first in line of ensuring communities have access to water.

Ellingrud highlighted the economic impact of gender parity, noting that the value of women contributing to the economy equally as men globally is an estimated $28 trillion. As GDP per capita increases, countries grow out of 5 "impact zones," which include political representation. Further, Ellingrud explained, more women in political leadership leads to more legal protection for women and ultimately growth in GDP.

One contributor towards women’s leadership in a country is the perceptions and attitudes of people  For example, in countries where men are more likely to say that men are better leaders or have more right to work, there are fewer women leaders and fewer women in the workforce. There are tangible links between attitudes and reality; however, cautioned Ellingrud, it is difficult to identify cause and effect. Political interventions also play a key role in shaping attitudes towards women’s leadership. For instance, in India, set quotas for tribal councils and women leadership allow younger women to see the possibility and inspire and equip themselves for leadership. Further, men and women increased their aspirations for their daughters, and mothers increased their aspirations for themselves. 

Young echoed the statements of the panel by illustrating the 50x50 mission at WPSP. She then asked the panel’s recommendations on how to push progress on these issues. Connolly began by emphasizing how Liberia’s success was rooted in women’s civil society groups pushing for a female leader. Goodman highlighted the need for women taking part in security and decision making. Ellingrud then discussed the obstacles women face in the political sphere which included lack of access due to not being a part of a network. She then ended the discussion by bringing to attention the fact that sponsorship networks for men tend to be broader and more senior, while sponsorship networks for women are more junior and narrower.

The conversation emphasized the importance of visibility and active participation of women leaders across decision-making positions from local councils to the global stage. As the panelists observed, research in the United States shows that men are more likely to be a politician from a young age, while women are more likely to come into it later in life. Additionally, women and men  react differently to the political process. That is, the win and lose rates are the same, however, the likelihood to run again is lower for women. This gap is evident in the judiciary as well: appointed judges are more likely to be women than elected judges. 

In order to close this gap, the stakeholders and policymakers must better understand where the barriers to leadership currently exist. In the spirit of the Commission on the Status of Women, this conversation highlighted the urgent need for deeper analysis into women’s political and policy participation to catalyze global change.

Photo: UN Women (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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This is a report of the UN Secretary-General's High-Level Panel on Women's Economic Empowerment. View more reports here.

Foreword from the UN Secretary-General:

"I established the High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment this year to address the specific economic issues that affect women and to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its promise to leave no one behind.

Gender equality remains the greatest human rights challenge of our time. Economic empowerment is a uniquely potent way for women to achieve greater control over their own lives. Yet, too often, women are unpaid or underpaid and unable to be dynamic economic actors. Inclusive growth cannot occur without their full participation.

receive this report with pleasure and I thank the United Kingdom for its generous support. I commend the Panel for paying particular attention to women in the informal sector and addressing issues of unpaid care work, equal pay and the minimum wage. The economic empowerment agenda must, first and foremost, be pro-poor and pro-marginalized. Our commitment must be to all women—including, and especially, minority women, rural women, women who are LGBTI, indigenous women and women with disabilities.

The report captures the importance of shaping macro-economic policies so they support inclusive growth, and ensuring that women entrepreneurs have access to technology and finance. It also highlights the role of legal instruments and conventions in protecting the rights and economic interests of women. For example, increased ratification of ILO Convention No. 189 can help to create better lives for domestic workers.

The panel has outlined an action agenda to accelerate progress. Key steps are tailored to different sets of actors, including governments, business, civil society, development organizations and thought leaders, and they recognize the diversity of conditions in which different stakeholders operate.

As its work continues, I expect the Panel to pay full attention to some of the most pressing challenges of today’s world. Massive flows of migrants and refugees, the uncertainty we observe in some countries and regions, the persistence and new nature of armed conflicts, and the growing impacts of climate change all have an impact on women and their ability to engage fully in the economy.

I thank the Panel, under the leadership of Co-Chairs President Luis Guillermo Solis of Costa Rica and Simona Scarpaleggia, CEO of Ikea Switzerland, for the hard work already undertaken and yet to be done. The women of the world await the fruits of your labour.

Ban Ki-moon
United Nations



Edited by:

WPSP Global Fellow; Senior Gender Expert and Director of Girls Education, Room to Read

Connect with Lucina Di Meco

Lucina Di Meco's Story

Lucina Di Meco is a senior gender expert with more than 15 years of experience in the design, management and implementation of international development programs empowering women and girls worldwide. Lucina started her career at the United Nations Development Program in Mexico and has since worked in various capacities for a wide range of international nonprofits, including Vital Voices, the International Women’s Health Coalition and Women’s World Banking, as well as consulted for UN Women, UNIDO, International IDEA and the OECD, among others.

Lucina has a Master Degree in Development Economics from the University of East Anglia (UK) and a Diploma in Gender Studies from the Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO) in Mexico.

In December of 2016, Lucina has joined Room to Read as Global Director of Girls’ Education, where she leads a program helping thousands of girls in Asia and Africa stay in school longer and acquire the skills they need to make informed choices about their lives and realize their potential. Lucina has a life-time passion for women’s political participation and a history of political activism in Italy. In 2016, Lucina published the paper “Women’s Political Networks: Defining Leadership, Breaking Barriers, and Fostering Change”, comprising a toolkit and resource guide, is available on the 50x50 Movement website.

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Women’s Political Networks: Defining Leadership, Breaking Barriers, and Fostering Change

Time and Place

6th Floor, The Wilson Center

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Event Details

Since 1995, the world average of women in parliament has grown from 11.3 percent to 22.7 percent. Although progress is slow going, multiple initiatives can be credited for building momentum behind equal representation. The Beijing Platform for Action, an agenda for women’s empowerment, is one example along with the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, and the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, which includes the fill and effective participation of women in all aspects of life. And women’s political networks have been critical to driving progress and implementation of these initiatives.

On April 6, 2017 the Women in the Public Service Project hosted a panel discussion launching the publication “Women’s Political Networks: Defining Leadership, Breaking Barriers, and Fostering Change” by Lucina Di Meco, gender expert and Director of the Girls’ Education Program at Room to Read.  Including Michelle Bekkering, Director of Global Initiatives and Senior Gender Advisor at International Republican Institute, and Susan Markham, Senior Coordinator Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment at USAID, the conversation highlighted the ways in which political networks can help women leaders break barriers and drive change toward global gender parity. Thoroughly understanding the ways in which these networks operate, and the various implications these have on gender parity in politics, is imperative in order to drive forth sustainable change.

Key Quotes:

Gwen K. Young

“The key thing that we are talking about is not just women’s participation, but it’s their leadership and their power. Driving that is women’s networks and women’s political networks.”

Lucina Di Meco

“What I learned was that, in fact, for many of us it is very difficult to be perceived as both likeable and confident. Because when we are assertive, when we are perceived as self-confident, when we are making decisions, then the leadership box gets checked and we get perceived as competent leaders but we are not perceived as likeable. And not being likeable in politics is a big problem.”

“The good news is that women all over the world have done a little bit of what I did in a kind of more formalized and better way, which is when they wanted to engage in the political career they started reaching out to other women for support. They created networks. They created networks of women mostly within civil society organizations, political parties, national legislatures and networks that get together actors from those three different fields in order to receive support. And those networks really work.”

“For certain things it’s necessary to get men on board, women’s networks have been very successful in providing women with many tools that they would not have had if they had to wait for men to open the doors of their networks.”

“While ambition is something that both boys and girls have, girls are very unlikely to be encouraged, to be ambitious, to run for office or even to think of themselves as leaders. So that’s very important to work with them specifically to give them this message because boys don’t need that message, they are receiving it all the time. Girls do need that message.”

Michelle Bekkering

“We need strong male advocates, to tell the younger generation and the rest of men as sort of a grouping in society, why it’s important, why gender base violence is wrong, why we treat women with respect and that’s where I think men can be such crucial allies.”

“We needed to change the narrative. Because we started out talking about this solely as a human rights issue, but what we weren’t doing is making a very case to the male led power players of why this mattered to them... We showed them why it mattered to them. And the first was: this has positive effects on the economy…Being smart about how we even look at bringing in affirmative action, so that men don’t feel like this is something that’s threating to them but how they see this as: this is a good thing for all of society.”

Susan Markham

“There are certain ways that we need to empower women that in certain cases have to be with women only. Because just creating the network is not enough. Also, what we need to do is build their capacity. If its public speaking, or if its negotiation, that often times in many cultures working with women first is going to build that capacity.”

“Sometimes the reality of how far the network can go and the issues that you brought together can sometimes be startling when you come up against the real political realities.”

“I think we need standalone where women can have the benefits of having networks that men have everywhere. That we need that. But it also has to be integrated. We have to work to change the political parties, we have to work to change the parliaments, and all the other institutions that were largely created and by men for men.”

As emphasized by the speakers’ statements throughout the discussion, women’s political networks play a vital role creating the foundation and providing support in the global effort toward gender parity in the public sphere. The research conducted by Lucina Di Meco in her paper brings us a step closer to understanding the composition and consequence of these networks, and how global leaders and stakeholders can use these to achieve the 50x50 vision.

Photo: Northrop Grumman/The Wilson Center

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Senior Counselor at Albright Stonebridge Group and former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs at the U.S. Department of State

Ambassador Wendy Sherman's Story

Wendy R. Sherman is Senior Counselor at Albright Stonebridge Group, where she brings decades of experience in business, government, international affairs, and politics to help ASG clients gain understanding of geopolitical developments, navigate international markets, and constructively address policy challenges around the world.  Ambassador Sherman is also Senior Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

Ambassador Sherman rejoined ASG after her distinguished service as Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. In this global role, she oversaw the bureaus for Africa, East Asia and the Pacific, Europe and Eurasia, the Near East, South and Central Asia, the Western Hemisphere, and International Organizations. She also led the U.S. negotiating team and was a central player in reaching a successful conclusion of the Iran nuclear agreement. In recognition of her diplomatic accomplishments, she was awarded the National Security Medal by President Barack Obama.  

Prior to her most recent service at the State Department, Ambassador Sherman was Vice Chair of the Albright Stonebridge Group, having helped to found and grow the firm for a decade. 

Ambassador Sherman previously served as Counselor for the State Department (1997-2001), as well as Special Advisor to President Clinton and Policy Coordinator on North Korea. In that role, she worked as a close advisor to then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on every major foreign policy and national security issue, and also managed numerous special assignments including negotiations on nuclear non-proliferation. 

From 1993–1996, Ambassador Sherman served as Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs under Secretary of State Warren Christopher. 

Earlier in her career, she managed Senator Barbara Mikulski's first successful campaign for the U.S. Senate and served as Director of EMILY’s List.   

Ambassador Sherman served as Chair of the Board of Directors of Oxfam America and was also on the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Policy Board, a group tasked with providing the Secretary of Defense with independent, informed advice and opinion, concerning matters of defense policy. In 2008, she was appointed by Congressional Leadership to serve on the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction, Proliferation and Terrorism. She is a member of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Aspen Strategy Group. Ambassador Sherman is a frequent commentator and analyst for both international and domestic media.

She attended Smith College and received a B.A. cum laude from Boston University and a master’s degree in Social Work, Phi Kappa Phi, from the University of Maryland.


"In 2016, USAID’s Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance launched its Learning Agenda—a set of research questions designed to address the issues that confront staff in USAID field offices working on the intersection of development and democracy, human rights, and governance. This literature review—produced by a team of WSU professors and graduate students representing the academic disciplines of communication, history, and political science—synthesizes scholarship from diverse research traditions on the following Learning Agenda question: What are the most effective ways to encourage women’s civic (e.g., volunteer, advocacy, etc.) and political (e.g., voting, running for office) participation? What are the risks to women of these strategies in contexts where resistance to changing gender norms is strong?"



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"Previous research suggests that women, more than men, experience negative outcomes when they display dominance. A closer look, however, reveals ambiguity about the specific forms of dominance proscribed for women. Here, we suggest that negative reactions to women’s dominance, a counter-stereotypical behavior, may require that the behavior be clearly encoded as counter-stereotypical—which is less likely when the behavior is expressed implicitly. This hypothesis was tested with a meta-analysis of studies on the evaluation of individuals behaving dominantly, including articles not directly investigating gender."



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"This paper addresses women's under-representation in top jobs in organizational hierarchies. We show that promotions to top jobs dramatically increase women's probability of divorce, but do not affect men's marriages. This effect is causally estimated for top jobs in the political sector, where close electoral results deliver exogenous variation in promotions across job candidates. Descriptive evidence from job promotions to the position of CEO shows that private sector promotions result in the same gender inequality in the risk of divorce. A description of male and female job candidates' household formations sheds some light on the mechanism behind this result. For most male candidates for top jobs, their promotion aligns with the gender-specialized division of paid and unpaid labor in their households. Many female candidates for top jobs live in dual-earner households and are married to older husbands who take a small share of parental leave. Divorce among women in top jobs occurs more often in couples with a larger age gap and a less equal division of leave, and in households in which her promotion shifts the division of earnings (further) away from the norm of male dominance. No divorce effect is found in couples that are more gender-equal in terms of having a smaller age gap and a more equal division of parental leave. We argue that norms and behavior in the marriage market hinder the closure of the gender gap in the labor market."



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"The purpose of this study was to gather data to advise candidates seeking executive office on how best to communicate about their families and personal lives. The goal is to provide women candidates with tools to respond to voter questions about their personal lives while showing they are up for the job. It’s no small feat.

For nearly 20 years, the Barbara Lee Family Foundation has conducted research on the obstacles and opportunities women candidates encounter on the campaign trail. We have consistently found that voters hold women to a higher standard — and that remains true in this research. Women candidates and elected officials with children pay a price with voters who worry about how women can manage it all. At the same time, voters wonder if candidates who do not have children can understand their lives.

Fortunately, there are clear ways to navigate the terrain of talking about family life. Our findings take a comprehensive look at how voters judge a woman’s family life and provide strategies on how candidates can connect with voters in a genuine and relatable way. "



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"In a new Brookings Doha Center policy briefing, Bessma Momani contends that increasing the number of women in the labor force will generate economic growth for Arab countries. She explains that despite educational gains, the MENA region still has a massive gender gap when it comes to employment. Many Arab women struggle to find jobs or simply choose not to work because of the major challenges they face, including cultural norms, gendered education systems, and a lack of financial means.

Throughout the paper, Momani goes on to examine just how much Arab economies could benefit from more women joining their work forces. As a result of these observations, she urges Arab governments to adopt reforms and promote policies that will encourage women to work and remove barriers that currently prevent them from doing so."



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"Millennials are often publically criticized for being apathetic about the American political process and their lack of interest in political careers. But what do millennials themselves have to say about the prospect of holding political office? Are they as uninterested in political issues and the future of the American political system as the media suggests?

Out of the Running goes directly to the source and draws from extensive research, including over 50 interviews, with graduate students in elite institutions that have historically been a direct link for their graduates into state or federal elected office: Harvard Law, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and Boston’s Suffolk University Law School. Shauna Shames, herself a young graduate of Harvard University, suggests that millennials are not uninterested; rather, they don’t believe that a career in politics is the best way to create change. Millennials view the system as corrupt or inefficient and are particularly skeptical about the fundraising, frenzied media attention, and loss of privacy that have become staples of the American electoral process.  They are clear about their desire to make a difference in the world but feel that the “broken” political system is not the best way to do so—a belief held particularly by millennial women and women of color."



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"This examination of the lives and careers of 7,000 women across seven countries—Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, India, the United Kingdom and the United States—is meant to foster a deeper understanding of the ambitions, motivations and realities that women face every day in their professional lives. Our interest was in grasping differences and similarities based not only on geography but also age and seniority. The findings uncovered a deep and growing feeling of empowerment and ambition—that is until women reached the senior levels of management, where they still grapple with the glass ceiling. We saw levels of engagement and drive decline as women aged. The goal of this report is to provoke a global discussion of women’s professional development that will continue at “Leaders & Daughters: Cultivating the Next Generation” events hosted by Egon Zehnder in more than 40 locations around the world. It’s our hope that in understanding women’s challenges and outlook, we can contribute to their progress everywhere."




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"In celebration of International Women’s Day 2017, the Middle East Program, the Global Women’s Leadership Initiative, and Women in Public Service Project at the Wilson Center collected essays from 33 women in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, the United States, and elsewhere to mark the occasion. We bring together their responses—which cover a wide geographic region and a wide range of views—in this publication.

Women throughout the region, as is true in the rest of the world, face a variety of challenges: underrepresentation in the political sphere, exclusion from or barriers to the workforce, repercussions of family status laws, physical and sexual abuse, and at times the responsibility of supporting their families by themselves. Some women in the region are also faced with some of humanity’s cruelest circumstances: unending conflict, famine, forced migration, and subjugation to sexual violence used as a tool of war, among others. While mindful of the reality of these difficult situations and enduring obstacles, this year for International Women’s Day, we chose the theme of “women driving positive change” to highlight the diverse work of women throughout the region who counter these challenges and make the world a better place for themselves, their families, and their communities."



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From The Female Quotient:

"We have created The Modern Guide to Equality to accelerate the change in the workplace we want. Together with our partners, Atlantic Media Strategies and Catalyst, we are addressing the problem holistically, combining generational insights, workplace trends and interviews with industry leaders to develop a toolkit and corporate workshops with next-step actions for change.

Of course, this is just the start. The Modern Guide to Equality is a living and breathing playbook. A playbook powered by collaboration with industry leaders, business experts and employees at every level of the corporate pipeline working together to disrupt the current work culture, activate next step solutions and create accountability standards for progress.

We look forward to working together with you to make these changes a reality."



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Leaders are born; yet many born female in rural parts of sub-Saharan Africa go unrecognized largely because, from day one, women and girls face a political, cultural and social environment that inhibits their development into well-equipped female leaders.

All across the globe, leadership programs designed and led by civil society, governments, and the international community seek to imbue leadership skills in women and girls. The potential impact of these programs, however, is undermined by the extremely gendered political, cultural and social practices of society. Aspiring and existing women leaders face their own unique challenges, such as lacking appropriate training and financing, violence, and issues including media coverage and fake news. More than 60% of Africa’s population lives in rural areas where these challenges, especially to young girls, are the most pronounced. In order to ensure women in Africa have the same opportunities as men to become leaders, African leaders and the international community must address the unique challenges facing women and girls to become the leaders they were born to be.

Despite the continent’s long and rich history of female leaders, particularly pre-colonization, the political, social and cultural systems and beliefs do not currently promote leadership qualities or aspirations in young girls. Concerted efforts over the last two decades have expanded access to quality education and health for many, but women’s political participation must also be a priority for the sake of good governance. To continue driving progress further and for more of those born on the continent, half of the population cannot be sidelined in decision-making. 

If only half of potential leaders are identified and supported, then policy solutions remain only halfway-forged.  African leaders primarily, as well as the international community, have a responsibility to speak out against the challenges facing women and girls to reach positions of leadership and support initiatives to eradicate them. This is particularly incumbent upon traditional and opinion leaders in the community, who must lend their voice and authority to the promotion of new traditions that ensure that every child in Africa, boy or girl, is socialized in a way that encourages them to become the leaders they were born to be.

This paper seeks to address the ways in which the girls and women who are born to be leaders are prevented from reaching their potential in sub-Saharan Africa, and proposes recommendations to ensure that more African women are represented in leadership and decision-making in government and elected office across the continent. Women’s political empowerment is vital to make good on the promise to implement the Beijing International Platform for Action of 1995, and the more recent commitment made by all 54 countries in Africa to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Beyond that, gender parity in decision-making is critical for the sake of economic development, good governance, and peace and prosperity on the continent overall.

From Day One by The Wilson Center on Scribd



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Wilson Center Distinguished Fellow and Former President of Malawi
Former Vice President of the European Commission and former High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
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The Right Honourable Catherine Ashton, Baroness of Upholland's Story

Baroness Catherine Ashton is a Life Peer in the House of Lords.   Before joining the Lords, she worked as a Director for Business in the Community, committed to Inner City Regeneration and supporting minority communities to get better employment opportunities. She was also the Vice President of the National Council for One Parent Families.  She has served as a minister in the Department for Education and Skills, and subsequently in the Department for Constitutional Affairs and Ministry of Justice.  In 2005 she was voted House Magazine Minister of the Year and Channel 4 Peer of the Year.  She became the first ever  Stonewall Politician of the Year for her work on Equality .She was appointed Leader of the House of Lords and Lord President of the Queen's Privy Council in Gordon Brown’s first Cabinet in June 2007.   In 2008, she was appointed as the First woman ( and as it turns out last !)  to be a British European Commissioner and became the first woman Commissioner for Trade in the European Commission. She concluded the S Korea trade deal, opened the Canada negotiations and resolved some long standing disputes with the USA. In 2009, she became the European Union's first High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and won praise for her work as a negotiator in difficult international situations, particularly for her role in bringing Serbia and Kosovo to agreement in 2013 and in the P5+1 talks with Iran which she led for 4.5 years . She has received numerous Awards for her diplomatic work including the highest diplomat honors from the King of Jordan and most recently from Germany. Together with the PMs of Serbia and Kosovo she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by both sides of the USA Congress. On leaving office she was Awarded the Grand Cross of St Michael and St George [GCMG] by HM The Queen. Last week she received the Presidential Medal from Kosovo. She is a Woodrow Wilson Scholar and a member of the Global Leadership Foundation. She has just been appointed the first woman Chancellor of Warwick University in the UK.

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U.S.- Iran Relations: Opportunities for the New Administration

Time and Place

6th Floor, The Wilson Center

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Event Details


Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

On March 22, 2017 the Women in Public Service Project and the Wilson Center Middle East Program hosted a panel discussion entitled “U.S. – Iran Relations: Opportunities for the New Administration” with Ambassador Wendy R. Sherman, Senior Counselor at Albright Stonebridge Group and former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, and Baroness Catherine Ashton, Former Vice President of the European Commission and former High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The event focused on the nuclear agreement between Iran and the United States, and what it means for the current administration.

Robert S. Litwak, Vice President for Scholars and Academic Relations and Director of International Security Studies at the Wilson Center moderated the panel discussion. Gwen K. Young, Director of the Global Women’s Leadership Initiative and the Women in Public Service Project, offered opening remarks. She stressed the importance of highlighting and showcasing women leaders who are playing a vital role in negotiating complex issues.

Robert S. Litwak began by asking the speakers to explain the agreement and clarify what it entailed. Ambassador Sherman responded by stressing that the deal was a political agreement, not a treaty. The purpose of the agreement was to close and shut down any pathway to nuclear weapons – that is, close down all covert pathways to uranium and plutonium, the two key materials to create nuclear weapons. Further, while some sanction were lifted, those regarding human rights violations, terrorism, and proliferation remain in place. 

Litwak then asked about the process of coming to this agreement, and how Iran was moved to sign on to the deal. Baroness Ashton responded by explaining the importance of the time spent in crafting the agreement. The process lasted several years with both the political and technical side profoundly involved. This was a complicated agreement, which required the involvement and assistance of experts to provide clarity. Further, the extended period of time spent on the agreement allowed for informal interactions which broke the ice and allowed for informal discussions of the process and the days ahead. To follow up, Litwak asked how the process was managed. Baroness Ashton explained the importance of creating an agreement that everyone would sign. Ambassador Sherman, expanded on the various layers of negotiations that took place both within and among the various negotiating parties.

Litwak then asked about the pragmatic call to disregard other issues in the region when negotiating the agreement. Ambassador Sherman explained that this was a mandate made from the very beginning of the negotiation process. All agreed to leave those discussions off the table. “As difficult as Iran is in the Middle East, if they had a nuclear weapon, their ability to project power into the Middle East and to deter our and our allies’ and partners’ actions would be profound. So this had to come off of the table in order to tackle the other issues. It just had to.” Baroness Ashton echoed this, stating that unless confidence was built through this agreement, there could be no path forward. The agreement serves as a precursor to future conversations.

Litwak then asked how Iranian domestic politics influenced the process of negotiation. Baroness Ashton responded by stressing the importance of emphasizing the direct benefits to Iran’s domestic and international interests. Both panelists agreed that after the election of President Rouhani, the process expedited due to better communications and increased interest in a positive outcome from the Iranian government.

Litwak then asked whether changes in the U.S. administration pose challenges to the agreement. Ambassador Sherman answered by stating that “many things could upend this. I think there are some, probably more on the Republican side than on the Democrat side, who would like to put enough pressure on so that Iran pulls out of the deal as opposed to us being responsible for it.” Renewed tensions in Iran due to the upcoming elections, as well as President Trump’s discussions about ending the agreement, are all challenges. However, at the moment, all parties are complying. Baroness Ashton further noted the importance of all parties involved in the agreement standing unilaterally with the decision.

Following the panel discussion, Hudock opened the event to questions from the audience. One audience member asked what, if anything, should be changed to make the agreement “bullet proof.” Ambassador Sherman explained that there are various complicated pieces to the agreement, and all have their strengths and weaknesses. Thus, it is impossible to pick one specific piece of the puzzle to make it perfect.

Ambassador Sherman and Baroness Ashton were asked about the likelihood of incidents at sea. Ashton responded that the situation from a European perspective is different due to the difference in historical contexts. The best way to move forward is to continue with compliance in order to open the door to further conversations. On the other hand, Ambassador Sherman remarked that she did not see Americans at intersections, but there is chance to have this conversation as the agreement has cleared a path for direct communication. Further, the panelists were asked about how positive political action can be achieved. Ambassador Sherman stressed the importance of having these conversations outside of the D.C. political sphere. Baroness Ashton echoed this point by emphasizing the importance of having clear understanding of the details.

Lastly, Litwak asked if the deal with Iran could be used as blueprint to address a nuclear North Korea. Both panelists agreed that, like with the Iran deal, all tools must be used to create an agreement. Interlocking all tools and partnerships is key to coming to a consensus. Following the Q&A discussion, Robert S. Litwak offered brief closing remarks and thanked the panelists and audience for attending.

The conversation emphasized the complex efforts that go into security efforts and peace negotiations, highlighting two women leaders who have been noticeably successful in navigating these delicate processes. Baroness Ashton and Ambassador Sherman demonstrate the impact women leaders can have when their voices are heard in peace negotiations – an area where, since 1992, only 10% of the voices involved have come from women.

Photo: U.S. Department of State

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Senior Vice President, Practice Director of Public and Corporate Affairs, Ketchum

KayAnn Schoeneman's Story

KayAnn Schoeneman is a veteran corporate communications professional with nearly 20 years of experience in the public affairs, public policy and consumer advocacy arena.  She currently serves as senior vice president and practice director of public and corporate affairs team in Ketchum’s Washington D.C. office. 

Schoeneman creates innovative, data-driven campaigns for numerous Ketchum global clients including Anthem, The Hershey Company, CDC Foundation, The Clorox Company, Council for Biotechnology Information, Merck KGaA, Pfizer Alliance’s Eliquis®, Whirlpool, eBay, Hain Celestials, Best Buy and Kimberly-Clark.

Prior to Ketchum, Schoeneman spent more than a decade in the political and public policy arena with experience in global, federal, state and local public affairs. Among her accomplishments included identifying, vetting and convening partners to support the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform, an influential and successful advocate for civil justice reform, both in the U.S. and abroad. 

Schoeneman is an active member of the Public Relations Society of America, American Association of Public Opinion Research and the International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of PR.  She also serves as an Adjunct Professor at Johns Hopkins University for the Master of Arts in Communication program. She is a graduate of The George Washington University with a degree in international affairs and political communications.

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International Women's Day: Private Sector Perspectives

Time and Place

6th Floor, The Wilson Center

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Event Details

In honor of International Women’s Day, the Women in Public Service Project brought together private sector leaders to discuss intersections between sectors on the impact of women in leadership, barriers to women reaching senior positions, and best practices that can be shared across sectors. The event consisted of a panel of women leaders who work for global companies in law, PR, digital technology, audit, economics and consulting to discuss innovative models of promoting leadership in both sectors and how the private sector can engage to promote women’s leadership in public service.

WPSP Director Gwen K. Young opened the conversation, calling on the panelists and audience to work together to develop the tools needed for progress toward gender parity across sectors. She noted that while this has yet to be accomplished, the parity conversation has been prominent in the private sector due to the strong business case for women’s participation and leadership and that certainly the case and progress can be developed in the public sector.

Tara Giunta, a partner at Paul Hastings, discussed the importance of quotas in achieving parity in private sector leadership. She cited voluntary quotas in the UK and Norway’s mandatory quotas for as evidence of the impact quotas and targets can have on gender parity. However, she said, truly impactful change occurs at the grassroots level – local engagement in gender parity efforts is equally if not more important than national policies.

KayAnn Schoeneman, Senior Vice President, Practice Director of Public and Corporate Affairs at Ketchum, spoke to her experiences in a company that is predominantly women and that emphasizes gender equality in the workforce. She described working for a company with 50-50 representation on the global council and term limits to allow for new leaders to emerge as a “bubble” – outside this environment, the disparity of women in the workforce becomes particularly noticeable.

Ms. Schoeneman also talked about the social barriers to parity that are more difficult to quantify and regulate. She argued that women tend to be more risk-averse, and are less likely to seek the “spotlight” because of this. Rather, observed Ms. Schoeneman, women say they want to be “the person behind” those in the center of attention. This is harmful to gender parity efforts as emerging women leaders are left with few role models. “It would have such an impact on U.S. and global perspectives if women took more initiative in being in the spotlight,” she said.

Agreeing with Ms. Schoeneman, Theresa Peterson, Manager of External Affairs & Technology Programs and Director of Government Relations at GE Global Research noted that coaching, mentorship, and sponsorship are also important in supporting emerging leaders. Most important, said Ms. Peterson, is the sponsor – “the individual that will speak for you when you’re not in the room.”

The other panelists agreed sponsorship is key; Laura Cox Kaplan, a corporate & non-profit board member and former Partner-in-Charge of Public Policy at PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP (PwC), noted sponsors are especially valuable in instances of failure. Echoing Ms. Kaplan, Ms. Peterson noted that men tend to recover from failure with relative ease compared to their female colleagues: “We don’t say ‘I made a mistake, can you help me?’”

Ms. Young then asked the panelists about the importance of networks in fostering leadership. She noted it is important to “surround yourself with champions,” but young women often ask who they should look to in order to build these networks.

Ms. Peterson agreed networks are critical, and noted the important role men play in successful networks. “In corporations, the people in senior leadership are men,” she noted, so it makes sense to engage those who currently hold power in empowering others. Ms. Kaplan added that although she had many female mentors, all of her sponsors were men.

Ms. Schoeneman further observed that women sometimes think they do not need sponsors, and their skills and talent go unrecognized. It is important to surround yourself with several sponsors, she advised, and it is “better not to have a sponsor look like you,” because their endorsement will be more powerful.

Shifting the conversation from building leadership to the current landscape, Ms. Young asked the panelists what the impact of gender parity has been in their experiences. Ms. Peterson asserted that diversity drives innovation, particularly in STEM-heavy industries. Ms. Giunta added that diversity changes the conversation and leads to more innovative outcomes in all areas; Ms. Peterson agreed, noting women tend to be more collaborative and that diverse actors improves the process which is just as important as the policy or outcome.

To conclude the moderated panel segment of the event, Ms. Young asked each of the speakers for their advice on fostering cross-sector engagement for gender parity.

“We need to think differently about what makes a difference,” argued Ms. Kaplan, noting that successful collaboration must take on creative approaches, including innovative cross-sector partnerships, targeted funding, and grassroots-level engagement. Ms. Peterson added that corporate social responsibility and community engagement can also help bridge the two sectors, citing GE programs for community leadership and STEM sponsorships. Finally, Ms. Schoeneman noted that as a global PR agency, her company must align and engage with the global public.

Ms. Young then opened the event up for audience Q&A. When asked about the challenges of addressing quotas as a tool for achieving gender parity, Ms. Giunta agreed the quotas discussion in the U.S. can be contentious and therefore a distraction. She noted that “any effort to improve gender equality” – including quotas – “has to involve strong messaging” to garner widespread support. The idea is a quota plus political will or a consequence or sanction.

Another audience member observed that efforts to implement sponsorship programs are sometimes rejected because sponsorship is seen as favoritism. The panelists agreed that sponsorship is not equivalent to favoritism, and can in fact level the playing field against gender bias. To address misconceptions, the panelists all advised such programs be accompanied by strong messaging and training for successful sponsorship.  Ms. Peterson noted that often one does not know who their sponsor is.

The conversation then turned to metrics, as one audience member asked how success in the private sector can be translated into public sector contexts. Ms. Kaplan noted that tangible metrics or targets are much more difficult in the public sector, particularly in legislative bodies, calling for innovative approaches impact measurement in these areas. One such approach, advised Ms. Peterson, is to emphasize the “people piece ” over the “policy piece” – that is, emphasize the human element – as this is what will drive change toward gender parity.

When asked about the impact and implementation of family leave policies, all panelists agreed this is critical to any gender parity effort. Ms. Schoeneman observed the private sector is ahead of the public in this regard. Ms. Peterson and Ms. Giunta spoke to their experiences as working mothers, agreeing that technological advances and new family leave and flexible work policies have allowed them to maintain a work-life balance without hindering their careers.

Ms. Young closed the event by emphasizing the need to substantive target-setting for gender parity indicators, and thanked the panelists for their contribution to this effort.


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Advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan
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Hina Jilani's Story

Hina Jilani is lawyer practicing in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, and is the Director of AGHS Legal Aid Cell, a legal aid and human rights NGO in Pakistan.

Ms. Jilani established Pakistan’s first all-women’s law firm in 1980. She has worked for the rights of women, minorities, children and prisoners and has gained landmark judgments for the protection of human rights in Pakistan.

She served as the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on Human Rights Defenders from 2000 to 2008. She was appointed as a member of the UN Fact Finding Mission on Gaza in April 2009, and a member of the UN Security Council established International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur in October 2004. She was appointed as a member of the Global Civil Society Advisory Group to UN Women 2012-2015.

She co-founded the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and the Women’s Action Forum in 1986 and 1980, respectively. She was elected as the Chair of South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) in December 2010. In June 2013 Ms. Jilani became a member of The Elders, a group of global independent leaders established by Nelson Mandela to work for peace and human rights.

Ms. Jilani is the recipient of numerous human rights awards including the Human Rights Monitor Award in 1991, the American Bar Association Litigation Award in 1992, the Human Rights First Award in 1999, the Amnesty International Genetta Sagan Award for Women’s Rights in 2000 and the Millennium Peace Prize in the following year. She was awarded the Honorary Doctorate in Laws (honoris causa) by Trinity College, Dublin in 2016 and by the Roehampton University, United Kingdom in 2009.

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Breakthrough Barriers: Women in the Public Sphere

Time and Place

Graduate Institute, Geneva, Switzerland

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Event Details

The Women in Public Service Project and Women@TheTable Present:


In Geneva on 1 & 2 March 2017, sitting women legislators, judges, Ministers, and Mayors from around the globe convened for a transnational conversation to discuss gender parity in public service, and the solutions to implement gender parity with impact across sectors, silos, and regions.

Candid dialogue on how to  breakthrough barriers supplied the connections between leaders to promote collaboration and catalytic action. One of the highlights of the event was the scope of expertise of the participants coupled with the geographic and generational range of the leaders involved.

On 2 March, a day of private discussion involved small working groups organized by sector focusing on critical themes, led by globally recognized women leaders recently in office: Dr. Joyce Banda, former President of Malawi and Wilson Center Distinguished Fellow; Hina Jilani, Advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan; and Melanne Verveer, Executive Director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and Former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues.

The event concluded with a public panel entitled "Gender Parity: A Global Reality Check." Our high-level facilitators and select participants will discussed the key findings of the day-long conference and the future of gender parity globally. The conversation was moderated by Philippe Burrin, Director of the Graduate Institute Geneva.


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