In response to requests received over many years, this summer the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding is launching a Women’s Peacebuilding Leadership Program specifically tailored to women who are oriented toward social change and who wish to develop their abilities to lead the cause of peace and justice in their regions of the world.
The women in this program will be scholarship-supported by donations and grants and will be grouped in cohorts with other women in their geographical area. The cohorts will move through the two-year program as a group, covering similar material and acquiring complementary skills while they together develop ways to maximize their impact on their home region.
This inaugural year the program will focus on women in three regions: Liberia, Somalia, and two South Pacific Island nations (Fiji and the Solomon Islands). The initiative is enthusiastically backed by Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee, MA ’07. Her Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa secured funding from USAID for four women from Liberia to participate.
Like Gbowee herself, most of the women in the Women’s Peace Leadership Program will be drawn from civil society organizations. They have proven themselves to be eager, intelligent change-agents, but they realize they need a better theoretical foundation for their work, as well as more tools for analysis, strategic planning, monitoring and evaluation, and organizational leadership. And they need each other! All cohorts will be divided into small sub-groups that will be assigned their own experienced mentor for the duration of the program. Some of the work will take place in the classroom, but much will occur in the field, in the women’s home regions.
We are very excited about the future possibilities for these cohorts, viewing them as a form of “critical yeast” to help their societies rise from conflict and from unequal treatment of women.
Though the women’s leadership program is new, women graduates of CJP have been playing leadership roles around the world for more than a decade, as will be evident from the pages of this issue of Peacebuilder. The new program is simply building on the work already being done to reduce violence against women and children and to create a more just, peaceful society for everyone.