WPSP to Partner with Wilson Center

Friday, June 22, 2012 - 12:28

The Women in Public Service Project (WPSP), co-founded by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the U.S. State Department, and the five Sister Colleges – Mount Holyoke, Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Smith, and Wellesley – announced today that it is joining forces with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

The Wilson Center, the official national memorial to the 28th president and a premier organization for international research, dialogue, and programs based in Washington, D.C., will become the permanent home of the WPSP. Together, the WPSP and the Wilson Institute will work towards the goal of 50 percent female public servants worldwide by 2050.

Rangita de Silva de Alwis, director of both the international human rights policy programs at the Wellesley Centers for Women and the 2012 WPSP Institute, will serve as the director of Women’s Leadership Initiatives at the Wilson Center. A well-known human rights lawyer whose work has been funded by the United Nations, the Ford Foundation, the Open Society Institute, and other organizations and individual donors, de Silva de Alwis has demonstrated the ability to build meaningful networks that promote women’s leadership and service across the globe.

Former Congresswoman Jane Harman, president and CEO of the Wilson Center, joined with WPSP leaders from the Department of State and the Sister Colleges to announce the collaboration. The announcement was made during the June 22 conclusion of WPSP’s inaugural Institute, which brought 49 women delegates from around the world to Wellesley College for a two-week long intensive training, networking, and mentoring program. Sessions included workshops and presentations on negotiating peace agreements, organizing caucuses for women’s rights, drafting constitutions, developing leadership skills, and strategic uses of traditional and social media

Harman noted strong synergies between the Wilson Center and WPSP. She said, “The Wilson Center, which is also home to the Council of Women World Leaders (CWWL), shares the goals of WPSP. Like the Council, WPSP can be a force multiplier in empowering women to serve their communities and their nations. Training, mentoring, and putting more women at the decision-making table is, as Secretary Clinton often says, ‘not just the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do’.”

Speaking on behalf of all of the women’s college partners in WPSP, Mount Holyoke President Lynn Pasquerella said, "Our students, alumnae, and faculty have been inspired by the opportunity to collaborate with the State Department and with our sister institutions, which are committed to using liberal learning as a powerful foundation for promoting sustained leadership in public service. The inaugural institute at Wellesley and our new partnership with the Wilson Center are important milestones in this quickly expanding and successful initiative. Public service will never truly be public until women are equal partners in shaping policies that serve the needs of humanity.”

The WPSP was announced by Secretary Clinton in April 2011 as a partnership between the State Department and the historic Seven Sisters women’s colleges. It was launched on December 15, 2011 by Clinton and other women leaders, including Madeleine Albright and Christine Lagarde.

Two weeks ago, Clinton opened the WPSP inaugural Institute at Wellesley College, saying: “Around the world, we are hoping to help correct the gender imbalances in public service, not just by working at the top, shattering those glass ceilings, but also at the grassroots level by training and supporting women who have the talent, who have the will, but sometimes not the opportunity to become effective leaders in their nations.”

Since its launch, the WPSP has grown to include other academic institutions, organizations, and training opportunities for women. Later this summer, it will sponsor a three-week training session for South Asian women at the Asian University of Women in Chittagong, Bangladesh. In October, Smith College, the Department of State, and the government of France will collaborate to train women in the public health field. In 2013, Mills, Scripps, and Mount St. Mary’s – California-based women’s institutions – will host a WPSP institute focused on women from Latin America; Bryn Mawr College will host an institute for women from sub-Saharan Africa. Dell Corporation is supporting WPSP by providing hardware, software, and social media training to WPSP participants.