“There is no nation in the world where women have full power, but none where we have none…we are on this journey together” – Victoria Budson
As we prepare for the final day of the Women in Public Service Project (WPSP) Summer Institute at Wellesley College and have started saying our goodbyes, I took a minute to think about what has stood out to me over the past two weeks. I realized that I now have faith, more than ever, that the journey for women’s empowerment is far from being over, but is something that IS attainable. The way we will empower women is through the connections we make with other women at programs like the WPSP…because together we are so much stronger than we are apart.
But the advantage of sheer size in the movement is not the only benefit. Women become mentors to other women and help other women on their journeys. The WPSP delegates will continue to receive mentorship as they continue on their journeys and will eventually “pay it forward” and mentor younger women and girls.
Women also have a more empathetic and collaborative leadership style than men do, as we learned from the Co-Founder and CEO of Vital Voices yesterday, Alyse Nelson. This means that women leaders try to truly understand those whom they are leading and are more willing to incorporate their ideas. I have seen this collaboration take place in the working groups at the WPSP Institute when the delegates share ideas to create an action plan.
Once we begin to have more women in public service and other leadership positions, they will become role-models for a younger generation of women, as we learned from a recent study done by Petia Topalova of the IMF. This will lead to a domino effect, and more women will start to be involved in public service. Once more women are involved in public service, women’s voices will begin to be heard loud and clear.
These past couple of weeks at the Women in Public Service Institute have definitely been a journey, but one that was extremely worthwhile for all. I have enjoyed the stimulating conversations and debates over international affairs, and I have learned about ways I can get involved in the delegates’ work promoting women’s rights internationally. Sometimes, the subject matter was very difficult to talk about, like acid attacks on women in Pakistan or female genital mutilation…but the pain brought us together. It also helped that we bonded by taking breaks to have dance parties…and let me tell you, these women can dance!
Therefore, I am sad to say goodbye to all of my new, international “sisters,” but I know they are ready to take on the challenges in their home countries. I can’t wait to travel to visit these “sisters” and collaborate (while taking breaks to dance of course!) in promoting women in public service around the globe.
However, the program is not quite over! Don’t forget to continue following the Women in Public Service Project on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Pinterest, and our Website. You can find the names of all of our incredible delegates on this bio page, and I would encourage anyone interested in the program to Google the delegates to see the amazing work they have done in their home countries.
And don’t forget to watch the closing ceremony from 12-2 via livestream from this link on Wellesley’s website. During the ceremony, the delegates will be presented with their diplomas and Congresswoman Jane Harman, director, president, and CEO of the Woodrow Wilson Center, announces plans for the future of the Women in Public Service Project. She will be joined by United States Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer and Wellesley President H. Kim Bottomly.
Alexandria Icenhower ’12 recently graduated from Wellesley College where she earned a BA in Political Science with a minor in Art History. She has a special interest in a career in Public Relations and Government Affairs and will be contributing to the WPSP social media presence during the WPSP Summer Institute.