Monthly Archives: December 2011

The Last Day of the WPSP Training Program

Sorry everyone for being MIA for the last few days.  I had to travel from DC to Boston, pack, and then fly from Boston to San Diego…and had to rush to finish a final paper!  But I am back and will be posting more in the next few days about my thoughts on the conference.  I wanted to, first, quickly recap my last day at the conference in DC.

The very last day of the emerging leaders training program of the State Department’s Women in Public Service Project (WPSP) was bittersweet. We were proud of the work we had done and the things we learned, but were sad to leave each other.

Though the first day we discussed the barriers that women need to overcome to be more visible in public service, the last day focused on action plans we could implement when we returned to our countries and communities. Many women discussed creating caucuses or coalitions of women in their parliament, others mentioned creating education plans to implement in local schools to teach young girls about the options available to them, others made plans for a database of women qualified for public service jobs (Christine Lagarde mentioned she has this!), while others thought that social media campaigns could help to show women that they are welcome in jobs of public service.

What are my plans? I plan on using social media (like this blog!) to target student populations to inform young women that they are just as qualified as men to participate in positions of leadership.  I also plan on mentoring Wellesley College First-years (what we call FreshMEN because there are no men) and Sophomores about how they can become involved in public service.

I say that the day was bittersweet, though, because we ultimately had to leave and say goodbye to each other.  In the two days that we worked together at the program, we had formed bonds and became good friends…united by working towards a common goal.  Even though I was just student attending, all of the delegates treated me as if I was one of them.  Rangita de Silva de Alwis, from Wellesley Centers for Women and the woman who organized the entire training program, even told me I had to write that I was also an “emerging world leader” or she would comment with it on the blog! haha

Luckily, our conversation from the training program has not stopped and we have been sharing ideas over an email group and a group on Facebook.  Hopefully, this conversation will never stop and, eventually, we can bring the issue out of our Facebook group and into mainstream society.

P.S. So what will you do to promote women in public service positions? Any thoughts?

posing before saying goodbye to my new friends, emerging women leaders from around the world

Women in Public Service Training Forum

The answer to the last post? Sec. Madeleine Albright!

So I promise I will give my thoughts on the Women in Public Service Project (WPSP) Inaugural Event soon!  But I wanted to give a quick update about the program I went to today. Rangita de Silva de Alwis opened the Women in Public Service training forum this morning by welcoming the “foremothers of the summer institute.”

I felt very honored to be a part of this group, which included about 40 emerging women leaders from all over the world. The purpose of the 2-day forum (I will be tweeting @AliIcenhower tomorrow too!) is to bring these women from around the world together to identify the barriers that women face internationally when seeking positions of power.  Then, they will discuss ways to break down those barriers.

Rangita quoted Queen Rania of Jordan who has said, “we are wiser when we listen and wiser when we share…” That’s what today was all about, listening and sharing. Throughout this forum, I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to hear from some amazing women.  Each woman has had a story either about themselves or a fellow woman who fought through opposition to pave pathways for women of the future.

I hope to one day be able to tell anecdotes like these about my experiences as a woman.  More about this later.  Right now, I need to go to sleep. The past few days have been life-changing, but also exhausting.

P.S. What was my favorite moment today? Participating in a skit about the need for women’s coalitions with the delegates from Africa — I’m in pink :)

Acting in a skit with delegates from Africa

Before the WPSP Inaugural Event

Over the next few days I am going to be adding blog posts about my thoughts on the various events at the inaugural colloquium. Friday, I am also attending a special training program for emerging international leaders and will be posting about that as well (Be patient with me though, it is finals period!)

Farah Pandith

Farah Pandith speaking at the reception

So, I want to go back and start from the first event on Wednesday night.  There was a reception for all of the students with an amazing talk by Farah Anwar Pandith, Special Representative to Muslim Communities.  I think I speak for all of the Wellesley students when I say I was so impressed by her.  Not only is she absolutely gorgeous and so spunky, but she does such impressive work! She is responsible for “Executing Secretary Clinton’s vision for engagement with Muslims around the world on a people-to-people and organizational level,” and reports directly to the Secretary of State.

What I liked most was her advice.  She gave us words of wisdom about everything from needing to volunteer, to the value of mentorship and support systems, to the value of an all-women’s education, to tips when entering the workforce. She said to wait a few years and work before going to graduate school after Wellesley (See, Mom, I told you. I hope you are reading this haha).

At the reception with Samantha Crowell '12 and Kim Quarantello '13

We then mingled amongst the five sister colleges and discussed what we were looking forward to in the day to follow. I ran into a girl who was also attending from my study abroad program in Florence Italy (she goes to Mt. Holyoke–what a small world!).

Our excitement grew even more when we learned we would have a photo opportunity with Madame Secretary (We were so surprised we would get a photo since, you know, she doesn’t have anything else important to do :P ).  Video footage from the reception with  student testimonials will be up soon.

P.S. Who can guess who said this quote? “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” Comment below.

A Shout out to MY Wellesley Sisters

What a whirlwind the last 24 hours have been!  I can’t believe it was just yesterday that we were flying to D.C., so excited and nervous about the Women in Public Service Inaugural Event.  I left you all last night right before the students from the seven sister schools met at a reception (more about that later though). Couldn’t blog from the event, but you can read my twitter feed to see some great quotes from the speakers (@AliIcenhower).

It was great to see Secretary Clinton in person after talking about how proud I am that she is a Wellesley Alum for so many years.  She even gave a shout out to all of her Wellesley Sisters — which made me feel so deeply connected to my sisters.

The State Department posted Secretary Clinton’s opening remarks, in case you missed it, you can watch the video on YouTube.

P.S. Off to dinner now, but will post more tonight!

Finally Here!

View of DC from the Air

The View from Our Airplane

After a quick flight from Boston, we have finally arrived in D.C.!

This is the view as we flew into Reagan International Airport.  I am surprised we could fly so near the monuments, but it was great to see them from above.

Right now, we are settling into our rooms…all in anticipation of the event tomorrow. Tonight, all of the students from the sister colleges who are attending the Women in Public Service inaugural  event will meet at a reception.  This will be an amazing opportunity to make new friends and share conversations about the need for women in public service with fellow students.  Hopefully these connections will last and we can continue to cooperate together as women colleges in the future and in our professional lives.

After spending this past summer in D.C., it is good to be back.  I hadn’t realized how much I missed being in this fast-paced, political environment.  It is making me strongly consider moving to D.C. after I graduate the more time I spend here.

But enough for tonight.  We are planning on going to sleep early and being ready for the exciting day that lies ahead.

My Early Political Adventures… in Pictures :)

As I mentioned on the About Me, About this Blog page, I’ve been interested in politics for a long time. Here are a few pictures from my adventures in politics so far:

Ali and other interns with Senator Barbara Boxer

With Senator Barbara Boxer (D - California)

Me as an intern with Senator Barbara Boxer in 2006.

Three girls in front of the capital building

Washington DC, 2007

In Washington, DC in 2007 at a President’s Future Leaders Conference. I met with other future leaders from around the world and we made resolutions, mine was human rights.

Ali and another student visiting the UN in 2007

At the UN in 2007

Visiting the United Nations as a high school student in 2007 with the Junior Statesman of America Princeton Summer School (we took classes on politics and speechwriting and had nightly debates) and then went to the UN where various ambassadors spoke and we discussed world issues.

Ali at the California State Assembly, 2007

At the California State Assembly (2007)

Visiting the California State Assembly Building in 2007. The visit was a part of the California Association of Student Councils (CASC), I was a region president for San Diego and Imperial Counties.  We would go to the State Board of Education and Legislature and lobby for various education bills (because we had input as students!).  I was also on a subcommittee of the State Board of Education as the only student member and revised the school health standards.

The Women in Public Service Project Logo

And, my next adventure : )

Just a few more days until the Colloquium!

I’ll be blogging and you also can watch the Web cast live.  The Women in Public Service Project Twitter account is sharing regular updates now – follow here or follow me @AliIcenhower.

PS – speaking of travels, have you seen Secretary Clinton’s interactive travel map on the State Department Web site? She’s traveled nearly 600,000 miles to date! The map includes video, photos and remarks by the Secretary.

State Department Colloquium Press Release Posted

The State Department Press Release about the Colloquium has been posted!

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sister Colleges Launch First Women in Public Service Project to Build Gender-Equality in Global Government Leadership and Public Service

Women in Public Service: Are we living up to less than our dreams?

“Because man and woman are the complement of one another, we need woman’s thought in national affairs to make a safe and stable government.”-Elizabeth Cady Stanton

When I was little I wanted to be President of the United States, but I remember being told that it’s primarily a man’s role. Unfortunately, I think a lot women end up settling for less than their dreams.

Did you know that in the US women make up 52% of the population and nearly half of the workforce, but only about 17% of the seats in each the House and Senate? I feel fortunate to be at Wellesley where, for obvious reasons, there are few men competing for leadership positions and academic attention. I think this helps women to feel comfortable and more empowered to assert themselves. I’ve found support for my new political dreams as a student at Wellesley — I now plan to go into political PR.

Next summer, Wellesley will be hosting the first of The State Department’s Summer Institutes, which are being established to provide women in leadership roles from around the world with training on how to become more active in public service. This initiative will try to identify the main issues preventing women from being involved in politics and attempt to break the political “glass ceiling.” I’m really looking forward to being part of the planning for it.

I opened with a quote – I’ll end with one too. When she was National Democratic Institute Chairman, Former Secretary of State Madeleine Korbel Albright (a Wellesley Alum!) commented: “Every country deserves to have the best possible leader and that means that women have to be given a chance to compete.  If they’re never allowed to compete in the electoral process then the countries are really robbing themselves of a great deal of talent.”

What do you think: can the government effectively represent our entire population if women are not equally represented? Comment below!

P.S. Follow my posts while I’m at the Women in Public Service Project Colloquium at the State Department December 15th!

About Me, About this Blog

The About Me, About This Blog page is up! Check it out either in the link here or click on the tab at the top of the site (below the banner) to learn about this blog.

I want this to be an interactive site, so feel free to give advice and respond to posts.  I look forward to your future comments!

-P.S.Ali