Wellesley Hosts Inaugural Institute of the Women in Public Service Project, June 11-22, 2012

June 8, 2012

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton '69 will open the U.S. State Department's first Women in Public Service Institute at Wellesley College on Monday, June 11.


One year following the Arab Spring, rising women leaders from the Middle East and North Africa, among others, convene at Wellesley; the global effort launched by Secretary Clinton aims to get world leadership from 17.5 percent female to “50 percent by 2050.”

WELLESLEY, Mass—Wellesley College, in partnership with the U.S. State Department and the nation’s leading women’s colleges, will host the inaugural Women in Public Service Institute, June 11 through June 22, 2012. The Institute is a first-of-its-kind, two-week program that will train the next generation of women leaders, and part of a global project to get world leadership from 17.5 percent female to “50 percent by 2050.” The delegates attending the Institute were selected from 21 nations in the process of political and social transformation, including countries that are drafting new Constitutions and undergoing major reform. Many of the women are from the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region and were involved in the Arab Spring.

At the State Department’s December 2011 launch of the project, Secretary Hillary Clinton said, “I’m very proud that my alma mater, Wellesley College, will host this inaugural Institute, which will rotate to each of the founding Sister colleges in the following years.” Secretary Clinton will address the delegates on the opening day of the Institute.

The women will gather at Wellesley for training and networking sessions with their peers and with established leaders, including Madeleine Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State; Jane Harman, former congresswoman and president of the Woodrow Wilson Center; Mu Sochua, minister for women’s affairs and leader of the opposition in Cambodia; Honorable Judge Nancy Gertner, and many more.

A portion of the live stream video was recorded and can be seen on Youtube.

Women in Public Service Institute Delegates

According to former Secretary Albright, "The 50 delegates are among the best and brightest rising political talents from countries in which women's voices are desperately needed in seats of power. The Women in Public Service Institute will give these women the tools they need to amplify their voices, build networks, and bring about positive change—not only for women, but for the world."

Selected through a vigorous application and nomination process, the delegates are women who have begun careers in public service and demonstrate great promise. The women represent 21 countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Myanmar (Burma), Pakistan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, South Sudan, Tunisia, Turkey, and Yemen. Most of the women are under the age of 40.

Delegates include:

  • A 27-year-old activist whose family returned to its native Afghanistan just months before the Taliban came to power. She remembers the day the Taliban attacked her city as “the worst memory of my life.” Today, she is the youngest member of Afghanistan's parliament, yet still faces enormous challenges.
  • A 24-year-old Egyptian dentist who, during the Arab Spring, worked in field hospitals and participated in medical convoys. One of the convoys was sent to Upper Egypt, where genital mutilation is prevalent.
  • A 31-year-old civil activist from Tunisia and founder of Voix De Femmes, an NGO that aims to make the voices of Tunisian women heard and be part of active society. Much of her work focuses on single mothers and their children.

The expectation that participants will learn from one another and shape the curriculum is one of the hallmarks of the Institute and its collaborative structure. Delegates will benefit from intensive training and practice of critical leadership skills that include negotiating peace agreements, constitutional drafting, organizing caucuses for women’s rights, and the role of social media in women’s empowerment and good governance. Institute faculty include distinguished scholars and leaders from around the world: Ambassador Moushira Khattab, former Egyptian ambassador; Juliette Kayyem, the most senior Arab American appointee in the Obama administration; Dr. Haleh Esfandieri, director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; Harvard Law Professor Charles Ogletree; Craig Murphy, the M. Margaret Ball Professor of International Relations at Wellesley College; and pre-eminent Pakistani human rights lawyer Hina Jilani.

First Global Effort Aimed at Achieving Leadership Parity

A mere 17.5 percent of the world’s elected offices are held by women—and the U.S. percentage is even smaller. However, Wellesley and its sister Colleges hold a longstanding record for sending leaders out into world. Wellesley’s graduates include two of the three women to hold the post of U.S. Secretary of State: Secretary Madeleine K. Albright ’59 and Secretary Hillary R. Clinton ‘69.

Founded by Secretary Clinton, the U.S. State Department, and the sister schools Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, Smith, and Wellesley, the partnership envisions a world in which political and civic leadership is at least 50 percent female by 2050. The project will identify and educate the next generation of women committed to public service, create an infrastructure of support and mentoring, and overcome barriers that prevent more women from entering public service and government leadership. Mills College, Scripps College, and Mount St. Mary’s College have joined as partners.

At the Project’s December 2011 Colloquium, Secretary Clinton said in her remarks, “There are many benefits of bringing more women into government service, whether they are elected or appointed, whether they work in the public eye or more quietly for the public good. The World Bank has found that women tend to invest more of their earnings in their families and communities than men do. That in turn makes societies stronger and economies more likely to grow. At the government level, those are the kinds of instincts and priorities we would all like to see.”

Clinton added, “If you’re trying to solve a problem, whether it is fighting corruption or strengthening the rule of law or sparking economic growth, you are more likely to succeed if you widen the circle to include a broader range of expertise, experience, and ideas. So as we work to solve our problems, we need more women at the table and in the halls of parliament and government ministries where these debates are occurring.”

According to Wellesley President H. Kim Bottomly, the College has a long history of investing in the leadership potential of women, and Wellesley and its partner institutions have a key role to play. “Wellesley is delighted to host the inaugural Institute of the Women in Public Service Project. It is an important step toward enabling more women around the world to advance to leadership positions. This Institute is about giving women the tools they need to be leaders, to address the global challenges of the 21st century.”

About Wellesley College

Since 1875, Wellesley College has been a leader in providing an excellent liberal arts education for women who will make a difference in the world. Its 500-acre campus near Boston is home to 2,400 undergraduate students from all 50 states and 75 countries.

Press Contacts

Sofiya Cabalquinto, director of media relations, Wellesley College, 781-283-3321, cell 917-691-7558, scabalqu@wellesley.edu

Anne Yu, assistant director of media relations, Wellesley College, 781-283-3201, cell 617-549-1969, ayu@wellesley.edu

Journalists: To request press credentials, please email mediarelations@wellesley.edu