The Ethiopian Women’s Leadership Program provides leadership development for young women to improve their educational outcomes. The program launches with a weekend retreat for the young women selected for the program, where they learn about the basic concepts of leadership and form strong relationships with each other and their facilitators. The retreat uses very practical and experiential training methods that help the participants build self-awareness, and understand their leadership potential.
Following the retreat, the participants meet weekly for two-hour sessions over the following ten weeks to discuss various personal development and leadership issues such as reproductive health and gender, study skills, presentation skills, values clarification and managing relationships. These sessions continue to help young women broaden their self-understanding and build their confidence.
By the middle of the discussion sessions a service learning program is introduced where the participants come together in teams to design projects that they can undertake to improve university life for other young women. This activity helps the students to realize what they have learned and gives them an opportunity to practice the leadership skills they are learning about.
A mentoring program has been designed to engage those students who have passed through the program to become mentors and “big sisters” for the next cohort so that the social support needed for young women to successfully complete their first year is strengthened even further.
An important component of the program is addressing systemic barriers to women's success in higher education. The program works with university administrators to strengthen the systems which ensure the success of female university students. University gender officers, teaching staff, and administrators are trained as outstanding leadership facilitators and are exposed to professional development opportunities to help them become stronger champions for women’s education. They facilitate and guide the nine-month leadership program for young women.
The facilitators are lecturers, gender officers and other administrators from the above universities and are given the skills to facilitate this specially designed experiential leadership development program.
Program staff also organizes regular programs to support the professional development and networking of facilitators from the four universities. The purpose of this program activity is to help strengthen university commitment to women and to assist them in breaking down barriers to women’s success. The staff works with facilitators to identify topics of interest such as counseling skills and gender issues as well as topics such as presentation skills and proposal writing which help them more effectively advocate for their programs and for young women.