For nearly 15 years, the Institute for Global Engagement has worked to build sustainable environments for religious freedom worldwide through local partnerships. IGE recognizes that the only thing less represented in international affairs than women, is women of faith. If women are half the population, and if 84% of the world’s population believes in something greater than themselves – then there is a significant number of women of faith who are being left out of conversations on all issues.1
IGE encourages women of all faiths and none to bring their beliefs to the public policy table regarding issues they have been especially excluded from: religious freedom, conflict resolution, and peacebuilding. Women of faith bring a new and needed perspective to these conversations; therefore, through IGE’s Center for Women, Faith & Leadership (CWFL), IGE aims to aid women of faith in bringing their beliefs to bear in these public and private forums.
In support of this goal, IGE’s CWFL formally signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Pepperdine University. The MOU serves to enhance the breadth of the two institutions increasing opportunities for each institution to support women of faith in their efforts to effect change and engage in decision making and agenda setting.
Growing out of these partnerships, IGE and Pepperdine University co-hosted the first workshop at Pepperdine University’s Washington, D.C., Campus from March 16-19th. The 2015-16 CWFL Fellowship Cohort includes 10 professional women of faith from Burundi, Myanmar, Nigeria, Liberia, Italy, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kenya, and the U.S. representing leadership within the academic, defense, non-profit, development/relief, legal, and government sectors, and Buddhist, Muslim, and Christian (Protestant & Catholic) faith backgrounds.
The 4 day in-person workshop (3 classroom-based; 1 tour day) provided an introductory forum for IGE/CWFL Staff, Consultants, and Fellows. The workshop introduced various frames and approaches of leadership, including those that integrate both faith and gender in unique and powerful ways.
As a function of the Fellows’ exploration of their own leadership strengths and styles, they specifically learned how to craft and present purposeful narratives, and pursued strategic mentorship/mentee relationships that will support them in furthering their leadership development.
The final day of the workshop included a tour of the White House, and networking meetings to discuss the Fellows’ current work & impact in their home countries. Meetings included the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and the U.S. Department of State, including representatives from the Foreign Service Institute, the Office of Global Women’s Issues, the Office of International Religious Freedom, and the Afghanistan and Central Asia human rights programs with the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.
Following the first workshop, Fellows will take part in a series of interactive online sessions led by CWFL experts and consultants. Through these sessions, Fellows will continue to learn from the expertise of one another; further explore how their faith inspires their leadership; and, pursue additional skills for leadership advancement in composition, networking, negotiation, and advocacy. Fellows will meet again in Washington, D.C. in November of 2015 for the second workshop of the CWFL Fellowship program.
For more information regarding the Center for Women, Faith & Leadership, or to be added to the CWFL e-newsletter, please contact Kristen Lundquist, CWFL Program Director at email@example.com.
 “The Global Religious Landscape.” (December 18, 2012). Pew Research Center for Religion and Public Life. Retrieved from http://www.pewforum.org/2012/12/18/global-religious-landscape-exec/