July 30, 2012



WLP Launch Post-Beijing

WLP was created in response to the expressed needs of a network of NGO leaders and grassroots activists in the Middle East-North Africa region in the aftermath of the 1995 Beijing Fourth World Conference for Women.

On their recommendation, WLP organized a dialogue in June 2000 for 15 women NGO leaders from Muslim-majority societies to identify the themes and priority areas for the newly established organization. The participants concluded that it was of utmost importance to redefine concepts of leadership and power to conform to women's values; develop culture-specific curriculum that could be adapted to varied societies; and train and help women achieve positions of leadership and decision-making in the public sphere.

New Leadership Concept

As a result of these deliberations, WLP developed a concept of participatory leadership based on dialogue, consensus building, and shared vision and identified the key role of information communication technology (ICT) in strengthening South-South and South-North communications in women's human rights advocacy.

WLP formed a partnership with an initial group of organizations in Africa, Asia and the Middle East: Association Démocratique des Femmes du Maroc (Morocco), BAOBAB for Women's Human Rights (Nigeria), and Women's Affairs Technical Committee (Palestine). The organizations worked in partnership to create a prototype leadership training curriculum for women, Leading to Choices: A Leadership Training Handbook for Women.

International Advisory

In 2001, WLP convened a meeting of its International Advisory Council, a group of human rights and development experts with diverse professional, cultural, and religious perspectives, to examine the ideas, concepts, and methodologies used in the new leadership model; to review preliminary field results from test workshops; and to suggest ways of enhancing the prototype handbook.

Expansion: Institute, Training of Trainers, and New Partner Organizations

In 2002, WLP organized an Institute for Women's Leadership and Training of Trainers, expanding the partnership network to include organizations from Afghanistan, Cameroon, Jordan, Lebanon, Malaysia, and Uzbekistan.

Drawing on the participatory leadership methodology guiding the prototype curriculum, WLP and its partners established a shared model for grassroots leadership training workshops for women. In addition, partners identified their need for organizational and ICT capacity building to support the implementation of successful leadership and empowerment programs.

Current Organizational and Programmatic Growth

The Partnership has grown to include 20 autonomous and independent organizations from the Global South and our culturally-adapted curriculum is now available in 20 languages. We have disseminated our participatory leadership training methodology and expanded and strengthened our networks through six National and Regional Institutes for Women's Leadership and Training of Trainers.

While grassroots leadership workshops remain a vital component of our work, we have continued to innovate the form and content of our training, and also provide ICT workshops and eCourses (online distance learning courses) in participatory leadership. A long-term commitment to responsive organizational and ICT capacity building has supported the sustainable growth of the Partnership and of our programs.

S:SSO to Sakai