At Israeli Summit, Facilitating Global Women’s Leadership Network

June 10, 2015


When Emily Monville arrived in Jerusalem, she came solo.

Five days later, the Philippines country director of the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction left with “14 consultants” – her fellow participants in JDC’s International Women’s Leadership Workshop.

“I have these women with me so there is nothing to fear,” said Monville, a mother of two and 16-year veteran of community development work. “These women will be with me throughout my journey.”

The workshop is a platform for women changemakers to share the challenges that keep them up at night, their struggles to maintain a work-life balance, and strategies, best practices, and challenges related to their respective organization.

This year, 15 women from 12 countries participated.

The goal of the conference is for these women to engage in a process of reflection and mutual mentorship. This year’s edition focused especially on crisis management, allowing the women to concentrate their efforts on developing a shared vision of community safety, sustainability, and resilience in the face of future crises.

“I have learned a lot about community resilience,” said Dr. Mary Rose Giattas, a Tanzania-based public health professional focusing on HIV/Aids and reproductive cancer. “Tanzania has a lot to learn from JDC with regards to community-based programs.”

On the agenda for the group was: an intensive day of leadership in action exercises in Tel Aviv; site visits to JDC programs; high-level meetings about social issues surrounding crisis management and community resilience; case study clinics; skills development workshops; peer learning and collaboration; and informal networking.

“Priya” Ariyaratne, an award-winning Sri Lankan teacher and human rights activist, said she was particularly struck by a visit to one of JDC’s Centers for Independent Living, community-based multi-service centers for people with disabilities.

“Most other events or conferences I have attended are essentially meetings. This workshop has been unique for me in that it has given me an opportunity to explore,” she said. “After the JDC site visit, I am thinking now about how I could utilize my own resources to advance that kind of model. There is so much I can do.”

For Slavica Draskovic, a consultant for national and regional civil society organizations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the workshop was about recognizing her own power and potential.

“It was an opportunity to discover myself and to be exposed to different strategies of problem-solving in the community. It’s been an interesting personal and practical journey,” she said. “I have become refreshed emotionally, mentally, and physically – and now I can share the lessons learned with my community.”

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