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Leadership & Capacity Development

Women must first understand that gender inequality exists before they can challege the social norms that create them.

At Plan International USA, we believe that working with and through local partners is essential for strong sustainable development. Our Leadership and Capacity Development programs are grounded in an appreciation for the expertise and culture of local institutions and the professionals who work there. We believe that overarching systems, organizational capacity, and program quality are only as strong and sustainable as the people who lead, manage, and carry out the work.

In particular, Plan knows that when we invest in the power and potential of women, the returns are seen in healthier and better educated children; stronger and more economically resilient families; and vibrant and thriving communities. As a leading global rights organization, Plan recognizes that achieving a brighter future for all children and their communities requires investment in women as leaders, role models, and decision makers. To this end, Plan established the WomenLead Institute (WLI).

The WomenLead Institute

Through the acquisition of the Centre for Development and Population Activities (CEDPA) in 2012, Plan acquired 40 years of expertise in strengthening women’s leadership, management, and technical competencies. Building on this strong foundation, WLI’s core mission is to enhance women’s confidence, capacity, and agency to fuel greater representation and impact of women in leadership positions across all sectors and institutions, with a focus on developing countries.

The poorest and most vulnerable populations across the globe are women. In many countries, they have limited or non-existent access to political influence, land ownership, credit, protections, or economic benefits. These and other gender inequalities inhibit self-assurance and restrict opportunities to become effective change agents.

However, with knowledge, conviction, and skills, women become leaders. By unlocking the potential of women leaders who in turn strengthen their organizations, we improve the status of women and ultimately advance sustainable development. In short, when women move forward, the world moves with them.

WLI specifically targets women from local institutions with little access to these types of learning opportunities, but who have the potential to influence the scope and scale of development projects across their nations. The immense multiplier effect of these women, who work on the front lines of development, sets WLI programs apart.

WLI's distinguished women-centered leadership services maximize women’s leadership potential, promote gender equality, and advance sustainable development in communities.

Read Our Testimonials:

View Our Upcoming
Events & Workshops:

    1. The Confident Facilitator

      February 27–March 2

    2. Investing in Women's Leadership: The Promise of the Private Sector

      March 5th

    3. The African Women's Leadership Workshop

      May 7–May 11

    4. The Confident Facilitator

      June 5–June 8

  • Women learn the skills needed to feel confident and empowered.

    “The most important thing I learned is that there is nothing to be nervous about or fear! This training provides the skills and tools [needed] to feel confident and empowered, and to know exactly what pieces go into good facilitation and training.”

  • The WomenLead Institute is changing the lives of women.

    “[The program was] an important event in my life and for the future of my organization, an investment and a vote of confidence in my potential as a leader.”

  • The workshops empower women and teach them how to lead effectively.

    “[This workshop] showed me a vision of development where every woman, no matter who she is, can take responsibility for herself and also contribute to her country.”

  • Women receive training on how to conduct a workshop that appeals to all learning styles.

    “I am so impressed with the creativity and detail that went into the facilitation of the workshop. It has given me many ideas on how I conduct workshops at home that cater to all learning styles.”

  • The workshops are a place where women - from similar backgrounds and industries - can share their stories.

    “The fact that it was women only, working in a similar sector, led to not just a safe space, but the ability to connect with and learn from each other.”

  • Plan's workshops provide training on how to scale up projects and improve confidence and communication.

    “This program has the perfect balance of providing practical skills [and] tools for improving and scaling up our projects, as well as tips for improving confidence and communication that can be practiced and developed over a lifetime.”

  • Women learn valuable leadership skills that enable them and their staff to thrive!

    “GWIM was an experience of a lifetime. The training methods and quality of trainers was unmatched. I find myself using tools learned at GWIM on a daily basis and have no doubt that I will carry those with me for life.”

The WomenLead Institute makes a long-term investment in each woman leader through a suite of comprehensive and interconnected interventions:

  • WLI Workshops foster personal and professional growth through highly-participatory and experiential learning methodologies and by creating a safe and enabling learning environment for self-reflection, peer-to-peer learning, and skills advancement.
  • Woman-to-Woman Coaching connects women with Plan-trained coaches for one year of professional development and networking. Plan invests in its alumnae as coaches for other women so they can reinforce the application of new knowledge and skills; guide them in identifying approaches to address work-related challenges; and act as champions as they set and strive for their goals.
  • Small Grants help to address funding obstacles facing local community-based organizations. The small grants program helps alumnae access resources to multiply their program results.
  • Networking with and among alumnae is forged and sustained through private online groups, country and regional alumnae networks, and newsletters.
  • Women for Girls connects with Plan’s “Because I am a Girl” movement to bring together alumnae and adolescent girls and young women for mentoring, skills development, and coalition building.

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