Investing in Women Throughout the Years

Celebrating Women’s History Month With a Retrospective

IIE joins the world in its celebrations of International Women’s Day and  Women’s History Month in the United States.  The global community has made significant strides in gender equity, especially in higher education and employment. Yet many challenges endure; the pay gap, on average, persists and gender-based violence and repression continue to be a major barrier in many countries. At IIE, we take pride in expanding access to higher education and international exchange around the globe and thank our sponsors and partners for collaborating with us to design innovative, market-forward programs that serve, among others, women and girls.  We look to a future where women do not face boundaries to pursuing education regardless of their circumstances. Here, we take a look at our past work to close the gender gap in educational and workforce development access.

Investing in Women in Development (IWID)

In 2002, USAID created the Investing in Women in Development (IWID) Program and IIE developed it into a program that fielded fellows with USAID Missions in Nepal, Bangladesh, and in the Africa Bureau in Washington DC. IWID increase the number of U.S. professionals with hands-on experience in international gender development. The exchanges evolved into projects on girls’ education, health and nutrition, business, economic development, the environment, and democracy and governance.

Women in Technology (WIT) participants in Morocco gather for a learning session.

Women in Technology (WIT)

With the success of IWID, IIE launched Women in Technology (WIT) in 2005 with funding from the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) of the U.S. Department of State. IIE implemented the program by collaborating with local partners in Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Yemen. WIT used specially tailored training activities to empower women and expand their participation in the workforce. In northern Oman, women who had never turned a computer on were trained in PowerPoint and Excel at a network of Omani Women’s Associations. With more than ten thousand women trained and 35 partner organizations operating WIT Training Centers, the program’s impact in the MENA region was undeniable.

WeTech scholars from India gather in Bangalore to celebrate the completion of their 6-month virtual mentorship.

10,000 Women Leadership Academy

In 2009, the 10,000 Women Leadership Academy saw IIE bring together academic and nonprofit partners, business leaders and policymakers to share best practices in training women from developing countries in business and management skills and was organized as a partner experience for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women initiative. The partnership with Goldman Sachs evolved in 2011 when, with additional partners like Google, Qualcomm, and Juniper Networks, IIE’s Center for Women’s Leadership Initiatives developed Women Enhancing Technology (WeTech).  WeTech invested in supporting girls studying computer science in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and the United States, and included a variety of after-school programs, mentorships, and scholarship opportunities to improve the education of women. The program was recognized by the Clinton Foundation when it became a CGI Commitment to Action to help women and girls enter and succeed in technology careers.

Higher Education Readiness (HER) Program

In 2013, IIE launched the Higher Education Readiness (HER) program to provide girls from underserved communities with a pathway to university. IIE funded 200 HER scholarships to pay for school fees, books and personal supplies, and provide leadership and entrepreneurship training. This has resulted in heightened self-confidence, improved life skills and success in completing high school. Without this support, the girls would likely have left school early to attend to families at a young age.

[The life skills training] has helped me in building confidence, self-reliance and developing better self-awareness. The other training was a leadership training which helped me add perspectives to how I view the world and understand people.”

Redit Tolossa, HER Alumna

In Ethiopia, HER gave young women in secondary school from underserved communities in a pathway to higher education. Specifically, HER provided girls entering the 11th grade scholarship support combined with innovative leadership and the skills training mentioned by Tolossa that helped them complete their secondary education and equipped them with the tools needed to succeed in university.


Over the past few years IIE has incorporated the lessons learned and best practices developed in our past work into each program we develop and administer. For example, IIE’s Odyssey Scholarship makes higher education a reality for displaced and refugee students and was awarded to 25 women and 15 men this past fall. The Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program, funded by the U.S. Department of State and administered by IIE, builds connections between U.S. and international professionals to advance solutions to the most pressing global challenges and was made up of nearly 60% women in its 2023-24 cohort. Alumni of the Humphrey Program have gone on to develop national policies, create national programs, serve as national trainers, and advise government officials on legislation in their home countries upon their return.

To support our work with women around the world in higher education, visit