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Santa Clara University-based Global Women's Leadership Network Aims to Convert Women's Business Dreams into Concrete Reality

Monday, Nov. 23, 2009

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Nov. 23, 2009 — Buying land for survivors of domestic violence in Uganda. Providing dozens of scholarships and meals for Malawi students. Training hundreds of women to be trekking guides in patriarchical Nepal.

For the past five years, projects like these around the world have become a reality thanks to a dedicated group called the Global Women’s Leadership Network (GWLN) and its annual Women Leaders for the World (WLW) training and coaching program. The fifth annual program—consisting of a one-week residential program and three-month follow-up coaching—begins December 6–11 at Santa Clara University and in Palo Alto.

The 19 women in this year’s cohort are from Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Zambia, India, Turkey, the Middle East, and the United States. Their goals are varied: to teach Ugandan women farmers to grow sustainable cash crops; to educate South African teachers to be better tutors of girls; to empower the youth of rural India to drive change. Their stories and biographies are available at

The residential leadership development program is a joint effort between Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business and the GWLN. Santa Clara University houses the GWLN, which oversees a coaching team that spends three months after the program helping the participants enact their visions.

As a way to spark innovation, foster global citizenship, and expand the capacity and network of women leaders, the WLW program has the attendees focus on the question “Who are you as a leader?” The training has helped more than 80 graduates in 27 different countries.

For instance, Lydia Bakaki from Uganda purchased 120 acres of land for 50 women survivors of domestic violence. The program helped her clarify her vision as a leader and expand her global network. “This is a powerful program,” said Bakaki. “The obstacles that I thought were made out of bricks turned out to be made of straw.” 

Also, WLW helped Mary Burns of Los Altos find the means to expand a modest project in rural Malawi from providing two students with scholarships to now more than 51 students. She also helped expand the number of classrooms, teachers, and aides; provides a daily meal for 1,300 grade-school students; started a micro-loan program; and built a prayer house. Even better, the empowerment is starting to trickle outward, she says. “The 5,000 villagers in the Manyesa area are beginning to initiate and own their own development.” 

In addition to private small-group sessions and classroom training, this year’s WLW program will feature two public events, a “global innovation dialogue” focused on building global partnerships, and a graduation ceremony at which graduates will present their project visions.

“It is time for men and women to work together, to their fullest capacity, so that we can solve the world’s most pressing problems ” said Linda Alepin, founding director of GWLN. “For far too long, the world has failed to utilize everything that women can offer.”

The public event details follow:

December 10, Global Innovation Dialogue, 4:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., HP Auditorium, 3000 Hanover St., Palo Alto, Calif.

December 11, Holding Up Half the Sky Graduation Celebration, 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., Crowne Plaza Cabana Hotel, 4290 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, Calif.

About the Global Women’s Leadership Network

The Global Women’s Leadership Network (GWLN), sponsored by the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University, is dedicated to developing the leadership capacity of women who dare to transform the future of their organizations, communities, and the world. GWLN’s mission is to ignite a new future for humanity by liberating women leaders to bring us all to a world built upon human rights and gender equality, sustainable development, and global integrity. For more information, visit

About Santa Clara University

Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley, offers its 8,758 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, plus masters and law degrees, and engineering Ph.D.s. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. masters universities, California’s oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see

Media Contact:
Deborah Lohse | Asst. Director, SCU Media Relations | (408) 554-5121 |


Tags: gwln, leadership, leavey

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