Guest post by Julia Hendrickson, Assistant Director, Women’s Enterprise for Sustainability (WES), Center for Women’s Leadership Initiatives, Institute of International Education (IIE), San Francisco
Inventing new possibilities – beyond those thought possible – and designing breakthrough results – this is the central theme to the Women’s Enterprise for Sustainability (WES) Innovative Leadership training. Last week in Tunis, 23 new trainers from the eight WES partners gathered for a Training of Trainers (TOT) that included a three- day workshop on leadership led by Barbara Fittipaldi, President and CEO, Center for New Futures. These new trainers will now begin offering leadership training to women in their communities through their WES centers.
The WES Innovative Leadership training is designed to provide emerging and established women entrepreneurs with the power to transform themselves and their organizations/enterprises. Through a series of discussions and exercises, participants learn how to shift traditional/automatic thinking, change the way they listen and respond, and remove perceived barriers that keep us from following our dreams. They also learn a step-by-step process to design and implement breakthrough results.
Two years ago this week, Tunisians ousted an authoritarian president in what became known as the Jasmine Revolution. After deposing one of the region’s most repressive dictators, today Tunisians are deep in the difficult task of creating a post-revolution society and writing a post-revolution constitution. What this means for women, and the role of women in a newly defined Tunisia, is on the minds of many. This is a critical time for Tunisian women who face new threats to rights they have enjoyed for years.
A powerful part of the WES leadership training is when participants declare their vision to the rest of the group– and participants listen generously with feedback on what resonates. It was tremendously inspiring to hear a shared theme among the 23 participants. They dream of a stable and prosperous Tunisia — where women’s rights are more secure, and women can voice and realize their dreams. They are deeply committed to this vision and to fostering women’s leadership, entrepreneurship and economic empowerment in their communities.
When I think of the incredible women and men who represent the WES partners I think of these words Barbara declared at the training — “Your voice matters. It is your time and your voice will change the world.” Tunisians have already demonstrated this to the rest of the world. I am excited about the future that together WES partners are working to create.