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Women in Public Service Institute brings together women leaders from around the world

In June, the Women in Public Service Project (WPSP), founded by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the U.S. State Department and the five leading women’s colleges—Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, Smith, and Wellesley—announced that the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars will become the permanent home of the program, institutionalizing Secretary Clinton’s vision and allowing WPSP to grow to reach its goal of bringing political and civic leadership up to at least 50 percent female by 2050.

The announcement was made at the end of the first Women in Public Service Institute, which gathered 49 women from around the world at Wellesley College for two weeks of intensive training, networking, and mentoring. Participants were nominated for their demonstrated commitment to public service and leadership potential, and took part in a range of 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.

“The delegates represented an extremely diverse spectrum of backgrounds and experiences,” said Kathryn Kolbert, Barnard’s Constance Hess Williams Director of the Athena Center for Leadership Studies, who participated in a panel equating women’s rights as human rights. “They came eager to learn from each other, and the stories they shared were truly inspiring.”

Watch media coverage of the Women in Public Service Project Institute.

The June institute capped off WPSP’s first six months, which began with an inaugural colloquium in December 2011. That daylong event, held in Washington, D.C., was attended by representatives from the Sister Colleges, including alumnae, faculty members, and students, as well as women leaders from around the world. Read about Barnard students’ experiences.

“We need women at all levels of government from executive mansions and foreign ministries to municipal halls and planning commissions; from negotiating international disarmament treaties to debating town ordinances,” Secretary Clinton said during the Colloquium.  

Since its launch, WPSP has grown to include other academic institutions, organizations, and training opportunities for women. Future WPSP Institutes are now being planned, including one with an emphasis on training women in the public health sector, as well as several focused on women from various geographic regions. Learn more about WPSP.