Eighteen women leaders from five African countries came together in Brussels recently for more than a week of intense leadership training. The Center for Creative Leadership program, part of its Leadership Beyond Boundaries initiative, stretched across linguistic, political and country borders, challenging participants and trainers alike in an intensive 7½-day leadership development experience conducted in three different languages.

African Women Leaders' Program Builds Capacity across Boundaries
Background from left, CCL faculty Hughes Van Stichel and Sandrine Tunezerwe provide intense leadership training for women government leaders from five African countries.

Parliamentarians and other government leaders from five Portuguese-speaking nations — Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique and São Tomé — participated. They traveled to CCL’s Brussels campus for an intense leadership development experience carried out in three different languages.

“We had women from different political parties,” says Michael Beachler, one of the CCL faculty members who led the program. “[The] types of tensions you have in Washington, D.C., you had there in their countries.”

Despite those divisions, the women left the program with new skills and new perspectives, as well as a start on new programs. Women from one nation, for example, agreed to work on creating a cervical cancer screening program. Other groups focused on women’s empowerment projects.

The Leadership Essentials Training of Trainers Program for Women Parliamentarians and Other Female Leaders, funded with European Union money through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), was delivered in two parts. For the first five days, the women leaders experienced an intense, experientially focused leadership development program.

During this phase, the women developed skills on how to give and receive feedback and gained a solid understanding of fundamental CCL concepts such as the DAC model of leadership (direction/alignment/commitment). They also received train-the-trainer instruction to help train and support other leaders once they returned home.

“One of the distinctive features of this leadership program is that its content is based on serious research, but still, participants are presented with simple and efficient tools that they can start applying right after the training,” says Alaide Sipahi, an adjunct CCL faculty member.

That content included guidance on using some of CCL’s signature facilitation and leadership tools, such as Values Explorer and the use of storytelling to enhance learning.

“The participants are able to explain and model their learning to others in their local organizations,” says Sandrine Tunezerwe, another of the CCL faculty members who led the program. “[They] are able to disseminate what they’ve learned by taking active roles in leadership and also develop creativity through the activities and tools provided in the training.”

For the final 2½ days, the women received additional training on how to sustain their own programs when the returned home.

That included specific instruction on topics such as fundraising, grant-writing, media relations and program management, in other words, ” … it’s how you take a program to scale, how you publicize it, how you raise money for it,” explains Hughes Van Stichel, another CCL faculty member involved in the program.

This second phase included an explanation of the Logical Framework Approach, or Logframe, a tool that’s widely used to design, monitor and evaluate international development projects.

This program built on CCL’s expertise and experience in women’s leadership and in working with groups from developing nations. “I really liked the customization of the program to our reality on the ground,” says Janine Lelis, a parliamentarian in the Cape Verde National Assembly who participated in the program. The Leadership Beyond Boundaries group has delivered programs, often for women and youth, in several African countries and other developing nations. That experience showed up in the highly customized way the program was delivered. It was heavily interactive and conducted in English, Portuguese and French.

Though all of the participants were already leaders at home, they say the intense workshop strengthened their skills. “I learned new concepts but also deepened my knowledge on other [concepts] for which I needed more insights,” says Nyeleti Mondlane, a parliamentarian from the Mozambique Republic Assembly.

The Leadership Essentials Training of Trainers Program’s “pay it forward” approach keeps leadership and learning alive well past the end of a single program. It empowers leaders to create and administer programs that, in turn, grow future leaders and ultimately, improve communities.

[Participants] are able to disseminate what they’ve learned by taking active roles in leadership and also develop creativity through the activities and tools provided in the training.

Sandrine Tunezerwe, CCL Brussels

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