Washington, DC 202.408.9450 © 2012 Women's Democracy Network. All rights reserved.
WDN Launches Women Leadership Schools Initiative
Washington, DC – The Women’s Democracy Network (WDN) launched its new Women Leadership Schools initiative with the generous support of the United Nations Democracy Fund. The schools will be held in four WDN member countries: Bangladesh, Cameroon, Georgia and Guatemala. Through the project, WDN will increase the capacity of women to participate in the democratic political development and governance of their countries through a unique leadership development cirriculum.
The launch occurred at a three-day conference held in Washington, DC, with opening remarks from Thomas Garrett Vice President for Programs at the International Republican Institute. The conference was structured in a train-the-trainers format where two project managers from each of the four target countries were trained in the leadership school curriculum by its author, WDN member Rachel Woods, Chief Executive Officer of Leadership TREK® Corporation®.
Through lectures and hands-on exercises, Woods trained the participants on the following topics: how to build influence and persuasiveness among others and within organizations; effective interpersonal relations and appropriate use of assertiveness; trust building; effective decision-making; team building, conflict management: strategies for finding win-win solutions; how to delegate effectively; goal setting and action planning for results; and increased political activism.
The topics were well-received by all of the project managers, regardless of their prior leadership experience. According to one project manager, “[Before this training] I used to think that being a leader meant always leading, doing everything, and micromanaging every assignment. But now, I am going to apply myself differently and delegate more, avoid conflicts and do more team work.”
On the final day of the launch, Woods was joined by political experts and WDN members from the United States – Toni Anne Dashiell, Kendall County Republican Chairman and immediate President of the Texas Federation of Republican Women; Ann Liebschutz, Executive Director of the U.S.-Israel Science and Technology Foundation; and Vicki Middleton, Chief of Staff to Congressman Duncan Hunter – who guided the leadership school program managers in designing an additional component for each country’s curriculum. This individualized component will provide women in Bangladesh, Cameroon, Georgia and Guatemala with an understanding of their civil and political rights, and identifying areas of opportunity in each country for participants to implement their new leadership skills.
Participants were energized to return home to implement their new-found skills. “This training affected me a lot. I gained more self-confidence and knowledge and now I know how to prioritize activities, be more organized, assertive and motivated. The training taught me that if you have the right tools, for example the team compass activity, you can reach whatever destination you want and come back to the starting point safely.”
Following the launch, six Women’s Leadership Schools will be held in each country, most outside of the capital city. Following completion of this project, the program managers will work with WDN to prepare a final manual which will include the best practices and success stories from schools in each country along with copies of the training modules. The program managers will also train a new project manager in four additional WDN member countries to ensure that the leadership schools’ curriculum is able to be utilized by more groups of women across the world.