Women in Public Service Project Kickoff May 26

A two-week Institute for 50 emerging women leaders primarily from Asia and Africa on "Reconstructing Societies in the Wake of Conflict: Transitional Justice and Economic Development" will hold its opening ceremony at Mount Holyoke on Monday, May 26. It will take place at 10 am in the Art Building’s Gamble Auditorium.

The Institute—sponsored by Mount Holyoke, Simmons, and Smith Colleges, and the Women in Public Service Project—is part of an effort launched in 2011 by former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in partnership with the Seven Sisters colleges. The project aims to foster a world in which leadership in political and public office is 50 percent female by 2050.

Opening-day speakers and panelists include Radhika Coomaraswamy, former special rapporteur on violence against women and United Nations under secretary-general and special representative of the secretary general for children and armed conflict; Mona K. Sutphen ’89, former White House deputy chief of staff for President Barack Obama; Melanne Verveer, former U.S. ambassador-at-large for global woman’s issues; Dr. Rangita de Silva de Alwis, director of the Global Women’s Leadership Initiative and the Women in Public Service Project; Erin Ennis ’92, vice president of the U.S.–China Business Council; and Farah Pandith, former special representative to Muslim communities, U.S. Department of State.

“Mount Holyoke is pleased to join with Simmons and Smith to host this Institute, which aligns so closely with the historic mission of women’s colleges,” said Mount Holyoke President Lynn Pasquerella. “We are honored to have the opportunity to bring together emerging and established leaders in politics and public service from around the world with faculty, alumnae, and students from the three institutions, and we are sure that the insights, experience, and wisdom the delegates will bring to our campuses will inform our thinking for years to come.”

The opening event is open to the public and accessible to all. The event will also be webcast at https://www.mtholyoke.edu/streaming/live.

Fifty delegates from 21 post-conflict societies in Asia, Africa, and South America have been selected to participate in the Institute. These delegates are working to rebuild their communities and promote sustainable economic livelihoods following periods of political violence and human-rights violations. Over the course of the two weeks, running from May 25 to June 6, delegates will spend time at Mount Holyoke, Simmons, and Smith.

Institute highlights will include a visit to the State House in Boston and meetings with legislative leaders; addresses and presentations by Gloria Steinem (Smith ’56), Congresswoman Nita Lowey ’59, and Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (Smith ’68); a trip to meet with leaders of community-based organizations in Holyoke; and a presentation of the play Seven, a work of documentary theatre based on personal interviews with seven courageous women in the Vital Voices Global Leadership Network who have triumphed over enormous obstacles to bring about major changes in their home countries.

The Institute aims to provide emerging women leaders with the concrete tools and training necessary to increase the scope, efficacy, and visibility of their work. Invited scholars, policy makers, and government and nongovernment representatives—including several Mount Holyoke, Simmons, and Smith faculty and alumnae—will aid delegates in expanding their leadership and communication skills; developing effective use of traditional and social media, and improving their ability to build national, regional, and international networks. A number of students from the three colleges will also participate.

The Women in Public Service Project (WPSP) is housed in the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. It focuses on training early- to mid-career women from around the world to advance their careers in government and public service as they move their communities and countries forward politically, economically, and socially. Since its inception, WPSP has grown to incorporate other leading women’s institutions.

The Institute has involved the efforts of many participants on the three campuses. At MHC, Professor Karen Remmler has taken the lead in curriculum development, while Kate Wasserman, associate dean of the College, has been the lead on administrative matters and logistics. Numerous institutes and offices on the three campuses, including the Five College Women’s Studies Research Center, have also played a role; at MHC they are: the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives, the Weissman Center for Leadership, and the Office of the President.