Growing out of practical experience that catalyzed an intentional approach to conflict transformation and religious freedom that ensures the inclusion of the diverse perspectives and attributes of women, IGE formally institutionalized those efforts through the launch of the Center for Women of Faith & Leadership (CWFL) in March of 2014. This initiative is the culmination of IGE experiences since 2008 in Syria, whose purpose is to integrate gender into IGE programs, while also creating previously non-existent platforms for women to bring their beliefs to bear in personal, professional, and public (policy) discussions, especially those where they are least represented—conflict transformation and building religious freedom.

One year later, on the eve of International Women’s Day, IGE’s CWFL is pleased to announce the Fellows for the 2015-16 CWFL Fellowship program. The CWFL Fellowship program is an innovative 2-year program that offers women of faith the opportunity to increase their capacity and leadership skills in order to more fully impact global affairs, peace-building and conflict resolution. Fellows will learn from one another, and from a network of experts, in order to enhance their leadership, while leveraging their expertise and networks in order to influence and educate multiple audiences and stakeholders.

The 10 professional women of faith named as Fellows for the 2015-16 cohort, represent leadership within the academic, defense, non-profit, development/relief, legal, and government sectors. They represent Buddhist, Muslim, and Christian (Protestant & Catholic) faith backgrounds from Burundi, Myanmar, Nigeria, Liberia, Italy, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kenya, and the U.S.

To kick off the 2015-16 CWFL Fellowship Program, the Fellows will come together in Washington, D.C. from 16-19 March for a leadership advancement workshop. This 4 day in-person workshop (3 classroom-based; 1 tour day) will provide an introductory forum for IGE/CWFL Staff, Consultants, and Fellows. The workshop will introduce various frames and approaches of leadership, including those that integrate both faith and gender in unique and powerful ways. As a function of Fellows’ exploration of their own leadership strengths and styles, they will specifically learn how to craft and present purposeful narratives, and pursue strategic mentorship/mentee relationships that can support them in furthering their leadership development. The workshop will conclude with a session guiding Fellows in exploring and shaping their Personal Leadership Development Plan, which will be a living document, tying together all CWFL Fellowship workshops and trainings, and serving as a personal reference for Fellows as they progress through the Fellowship.

Through additional workshops, online sessions and trainings, and hands-on projects, Fellows will be equipped to understand and influence decision making processes and agenda setting at the policy level; develop new networks of support and advocacy across religious, political, cultural, and geographic lines; and, gain access and connections with women of faith in leadership roles from across all sectors operating at the highest levels of advocacy, policy, and decision making. At the end of the 2-year Fellowship, Fellows will tangibly apply their leadership and skills to address a current issue of conflict through a capstone project.

Ultimately through the CWFL Fellowship program, IGE hopes to build an alumni network of women of faith who are connected through their shared Fellowship experiences, and who are equipped to advocate holistically and collaboratively on local and global issues of import to women and their communities.

For more information regarding the CWFL Fellowship program, or to be added to the CWFL email newsletter, please contact Kristen Lundquist, CWFL Program Director at