As a participant in the Female Leadership Academy by IFLRY International Federation of Liberal Youth, Uma Kesani is filled with gratitude for the enriching experience and valuable lessons learned. In this article, She will share her learnings in female leadership.
Uma Kesani would like to express her sincerest gratitude to Swatantrata Center for providing me with the opportunity to participate in the IFLRY Female Leadership Academy. As one of only 13 female leaders selected from 9 different countries, I am incredibly grateful for the chance to share my experiences and learn from others in such a diverse and dynamic group.
IFLRY brought together 13 female leaders from 9 different countries, including Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, Pakistan, Nepal, India, Philippines, and Malaysia. Throughout the academy, we explored the challenges and statistics facing women in leadership across our diverse countries and cultures, engaged in discussions with local representatives to understand the unique political and social landscape of their communities, and participated in mental health sessions that focused on the importance of self-care and mindfulness.
Together, we developed project ideas to address the challenges facing women in our respective communities, such as improving access to education and healthcare, advocating for women’s rights and representation in politics, and promoting greater gender equality in the workplace. The supportive and collaborative environment of the academy allowed us to share our experiences and learn from each other, and I left feeling inspired and motivated to make a difference in my own community and beyond.
The Female Leadership Academy by IFLRY began with a stark reminder of the challenges women continue to face globally. Hunger and malnutrition remain significant issues, with 60% of women and girls affected. UNESCO reports that 132 million girls worldwide are out of school, and the global gender gap is expected to take 132 years to close. Women are underrepresented in key sectors, including public sectors (33%), private sectors (31%), manufacturing, infrastructure, energy, and supply chain. While women do hold a good share in NGOs (47%), personal services (48%), and healthcare (42%), there is still much work to be done to achieve gender equality in all industries. It is clear that we need more voices speaking up and taking action to create a world where women have equal representation and opportunity to succeed. The Female Leadership Academy by IFLRY is a vital step in this direction, empowering and supporting emerging female leaders to make a positive impact in their communities and beyond.
As part of the program, we participated in a challenges mapping session, which provided an opportunity to discuss the key challenges and barriers that women face. We identified a range of issues, including a lack of guidance, patriarchal systems, sexual harassment, social pressure, challenges during motherhood, and cultural and traditional barriers. These discussions were important in helping us understand the complex realities that women face and in identifying potential areas for change and advocacy efforts.
During the program, we participated in a capacity-building session on building a fundraising campaign. This session introduced us to various funding platforms, including Patreon, Kickstarter, and QR codes, and analyzed their pros and cons. We were also taught the importance of developing a compelling reason for people to fund our projects and were encouraged to use crowd-fundraising platforms for our organizations or projects. The session provided a clear roadmap for creating a successful fundraising campaign, including selecting a project, choosing a platform, selecting communication platforms, listing benefits for sponsors, and reflecting on how it will influence our organization’s activity. In addition, we were asked to think about specific initiatives we could implement in our organizations, including the initiative’s goal, target audience, and timeframe. Overall, the session provided valuable insights into building successful fundraising campaigns and developing initiatives to advance our organizations’ missions.
Throughout the leadership program, numerous capacity-building and learning sessions were conducted, covering a wide range of topics, including mental health, presentation skills, storytelling, and women’s representation in politics. By the end of the program, almost every participant had designed an impactful project to execute once they returned to their respective countries.
As Uma Kesani reflects on her experience at the IFLRY Female Leadership Academy, she is filled with a sense of purpose and determination to continue advocating for women’s rights and empowerment. I hope that my journey can inspire others to pursue their passions and take on leadership roles and that we can all work together toward a more equitable and just world.
The author is Uma Kesani
Co- Chief Executive Officer at Nirmaan Organization