On December 15, 2011 U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton launched the Women in Public Service Project – a new initiative to increase the number of women in public service at the local, national, and international levels. A partnership between the U.S. Department of State and the Seven Sisters Colleges of Barnard College, Bryn Mawr College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and Wellesley College, the Women in Public Service Project will engage a new generation of women committed to public service, create an infrastructure of support, training and mentoring, and help enable more women to enter public service and political leadership.
As part of the Women in Public Service Project, 40 women from 37 countries who serve their communities as elected officials, leaders of non-governmental organizations, and civil society activists traveled to the United States and participated in an International Visitor Leadership Program. These women collaborated with their American counterparts on ways in which to overcome barriers facing women in public service and empower more young women to take leadership roles in their home countries, which included: Afghanistan, Angola, Belize, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Burma, Cameroon, Colombia, Czech Republic, Egypt, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Macedonia, Maldives, Namibia, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Poland, Russia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tunisia and Yemen.
Beginning in the summer of 2012, the U.S. Department of State will partner with colleges and universities to engage young women through a variety of initiatives. First steps include:
- Summer Institutes for Leadership. Sponsored by the Seven Sisters colleges, the first institute will take place in the Summer of 2012 on the campus of Wellesley College, and will rotate among the five college campuses in successive summers. The institute plans to educate 50 emerging women leaders in various leadership topics. A working group of academics and experts are developing a curriculum that will tackle the various issues facing women pursuing careers in government, political office, and civic organizations. The Department of State will support the travel for 40 women from the Middle East and North Africa region to attend the summer institute.
- The Asian University of Women (AUW) will host a parallel institute to that of the Seven Sister Colleges in summer 2012. Adapting the curriculum developed for the pilot Summer Institute at Wellesley, AUW will train 30 women from South Asia, 10 of whom will be selected by the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan and flown to Chittagong, Bangladesh to participate in the training. The Department of State will support a U.S. Fulbright Specialist to lead the training.
- Study of the U.S. Institutes for Women Student Leaders. Two groups of 20 undergraduate women students from Angola, Burma, Egypt, Liberia, Libya, Mongolia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, and Tunisia will travel to the United States to participate in Study of the U.S. Institutes for Women Student Leaders. The Institutes will include a month-long academic residency on a U.S. campus, an integrated study tour, community service activities, leadership training, and the opportunity to meet with public policy mentors.
Stay up-to-date on the Women in Public Service Project via Twitter at www.twitter.com/WPSProject.