By Emiko Perea
Global Peace Women Leadership Academy (GPWLA) is a program designed by the women’s division of Global Peace Foundation to provide resources and education for women as moral and innovative leaders that build peace in their families and communities. To date, over 40 participants from across the world have undergone training in the academy to expand their positive impacts and transformed them into moral leaders of their communities.
In conjunction with the 2019 International Young Leaders Assembly hosted in Washington DC last August, four GPWLA participants attended the program along with an intensive 3-day Capacity Building Program covering topics such as Design Thinking, Resource Development, and Marketing. These lessons enhanced the quality of their projects and their ability to create a greater impact for positive social transformation. Despite being from four different parts of the world, the participants' mutual desire to contribute to their communities united them with like-minded international women leaders who support each other.
Since the GPWLA program is usually a one-on-one webinar training conducted by Dr. Soonok Kang, Secretary-General of the women's division of Global Peace Foundation, this is the first time participants will be meeting one another in person and learning about each other's initiatives.
Shamira Mshangama, GPWLA participant from Tanzania, joined the IYLA-GPWLA Collaborative program because she "wanted to grow in my leadership career, especially through a shared experience with other GPWLA participants, while increasing my network of new friends."
Aishwarya Chaturvedi joined with the goal that "this program will help me network better and will give me new ideas to combat social challenges in my country, India. I wish to learn from other's projects and tell them about mine."
Participants met with Ohnsoon Kim, a desk officer at the Peace Corps, who shared her experience serving in Ethiopia as a volunteer.
Dr. Kang began the educational sessions by inviting each participant to present and introduce their projects to each other.
Nakako Furuta from Korea created a workbook for elementary school students titled "My Dream, Your Dream, Our Dream" to educate Korean children on the Korean Dream and the possibility of a peacefully united Korean peninsula, especially by learning North and South Korea's shared history and culture.
Shamira Mshangama from Tanzania presented her project titled “Empowering local women’s decision-making process,” a workshop and awareness campaign for rural women to become involved in decision-making on the local level. She conducted surveys and implemented an Entrepreneurship Training program for women ages 18 and older in the village of Mkuranga.
Aishwarya Chaturvedi from India presented her project NIRMAN: "Initiative for Life Skills & Education for Underprivileged Children in Uttar Pradesh, India." Her mission is to eradicate illiteracy from the society and encourage more parents to educate their girl child in particular, with a workshop that covers Sanitation and Cleanliness, Children's Rights and Sexual Abuse, and a Crafting Class with reusable materials.
Although Stella Mainali is a GPW Youth Leadership Academy participant from Nepal who has yet to begin her project, she presented her project concept called "Reignite your leadership passion” for enhancing leadership skills, public speaking skills, and uplifting the psychological well-being of young people.
All lessons were very hands-on in which participants had the opportunity to practically apply new skill sets to improve their programs, including individual consultations. For example, in the Branding and Marketing program, participants were invited to create their own introductory brochure to articulate their project's vision and mission in a way to work with potential stakeholders, donors and collaborators.
Stella, who visited the United States for the first time, wished that the program was for more days, saying that "Every Session has been extremely fruitful and fun-filled! It was truly an enriching learning experience."
While undergoing training in the academy, the GPWLA participants became moral leaders that expanded their positive impacts from their communities onto the world. Throughout the IYLA program, these women displayed peace-based thinking that inspired positive change in their communities and joined fellow IYLA delegates as examples of global peacemakers.