About Women's Peacebuilding Leadership Program
The Women’s Peacebuilding Leadership Program (WPLP) offers contextualized peacebuilding leadership education and mentored practice designed to equip regional cohorts of women peacebuilders with the skills, knowledge, and attitudes of leaders able to respond to conflict and build peace in their communities, organizations, and countries.
Cohort Model with Regional Context
WPLP is based on a cohort model that welcomes regional groups of women who hold leadership roles in marginalized or conflict-affected communities. As a fully funded program, WPLP selects these regional cohorts of women in partnership with funders. Unsolicited applications are not accepted, as program staff work with funders to identify women leaders from specific organizations and/or communities to enroll in the program.
WPLP uses practice-based methodologies to educate strategically chosen women in the theories and practice of conflict analysis,
prevention, and transformation. Classroom curriculum is contextual and grounded in real-world experience. Mentored practice guides participants as they implement the peacebuilding intervention that they have designed throughout
the course of the program. Through these components participants integrate content
and practice, with the goal of transforming relationships and structures in ways that
address the root causes of conflict at both local and global levels. Through their
participation in the program, participants are able to lead real change in their communities.
WPLP Program History
In 2011, women peacebuilding leaders from around the world gathered at Eastern Mennonite University to address a concern they had seen in the implementation of UN resolution 1325: that though women were being involved in peacebuilding processes, they had not always been able to attain access to the same level of capacity building as had their male colleagues. As a result, many women were not contributing to peacebuilding processes at their full potential.
Notable participants at the consultation included Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Laureate and alumna of EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, and Somali-Kenyan peace leader Dekha Ibrahim Abdi, who tragically lost her life in a car accident following the consultation but whose memory continues to inspire WPLP and women peace leaders around the world.
The group of women leaders envisioned WPLP as the solution to this challenge. They designed a program that coupled long-term engagement with short term residency requirements in a format that supported women’s peacebuilding and leadership development and enabled women to directly lead and participate in peacebuilding activities and processes.
From the consultation came the design of the Women’s Peacebuilding Leadership Program, a 19-month program that confers to participants a 15-credit graduate certificate in peacebuilding leadership. The first group of 18 participants started the program in May 2012; by December 2017, fifty women from Bougainville, Fiji, Kenya, Liberia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Somaliland, and West Papua will have participated in WPLP.