July 25, 2013
The critical issues surrounding women’s leadership and gender equality are taking center stage at a partners meeting hosted by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Higher Education for Development (HED).
Representatives from five U.S. universities selected to participate in the recently announced Women’s Leadership Program and their counterparts from tertiary institutions in Armenia, Paraguay, Rwanda and South Sudan are in the capital city July 22–25 for strategy sessions, collaboration and dialogue.
The meeting focuses on the theme “A Shared Vision for Promoting Women’s Leadership Through Higher Education.” Speakers at the inaugural event include Peter Malnak, mission director for USAID/Rwanda; and Henriette Umulisa, permanent secretary of Rwanda’s Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion.
“USAID/Rwanda is excited about this program and the promise it holds,” Malnak said. “Investing in women’s empowerment and leadership is fundamental to strong and sustainable development. Educated, empowered women are healthier, start families later and are more economically successful — and they transfer these benefits onto their children, raising a whole generation of citizens who are better prepared to contribute to the economic development process.”
The Women’s Leadership Program is supporting women’s access to higher education and advanced degrees, strengthening institutional capacity in research and education on women’s leadership and promoting women’s leadership through higher education extension/outreach efforts in underserved communities in the targeted countries. Each higher education partnership is focusing on advancing education in a specific sector area, and gender equity awareness is woven into the process. With funding from USAID totaling approximately $8.75 million, HED is managing all five partnerships.
“The Women’s Leadership Program is but one example of how HED, with funding from USAID, links colleges and universities in the United States with tertiary institutions overseas to address some of the world’s most pressing development challenges,” said Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president at the American Council on Education in Washington and HED advisory board chair. “In leveraging the expertise of U.S. higher education, HED plays a major role in advancing U.S. government objectives by expanding access to education and promoting economic growth.”