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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Edwards


The Women’s Leadership Institute has designed a Gender Equality Strategy Plan which is a pivotal response to promote intentional engagement of women and girls that will strengthen gender equality and empowerment. At a time when COVID-19 has compounded all aspects of gender inequality, bold actions, and a united commitment for pursuit of greater equity is required. WLI has charted a course for the future in which gender equity and equality will be initiated to help close pernicious gender gaps to reduce barriers faced by underserved and historically marginalized women and girls. The Women’s Leadership Institute aims to reinvigorate its efforts to ensure that there are more opportunities for women and girls to make better use of their extraordinary potential that will enable them to positively transform their lives.

The Women’s Leadership Institute’s Gender Equality Strategic Plan was developed following a detailed review and a series of consultations that engaged different stakeholders, representatives from the public and private sectors as well as organizations that advocate for equality. During a comprehensive review WLI came to the realization that the only way to achieve transformational results for gender equality and empowerment is with and through reliable partners backed by sustainable financing and accountability. In this context, deepening and expanding partnerships are the cornerstones of WLI’s Gender Equality Strategy Plan.

WLI is well placed to mobilize a broad constituency of partners to bring about lasting and transformative changes and has determined that it will leverage mandates to focus on the root causes of inequality. In support of this vision, WLI will initiate phase I of their strategic plan by addressing the manner in which school exclusionary practices such as suspension/expulsions interferes with educational progress and perpetuates failure for Black and Brown girls.

Once removed from schools, students experience decreased academic achievement, further fueling negative attitudes and leading to increased dropout rates. Research findings have consistently emphasized, how punitive discipline serves as a push out factor for Black and Brown girls and is convincing evidence to justify implementation of restorative practices to reduce the number of dropouts and increase successful graduation rates. While many of the factors leading to student disengagement are not school related, behavioral indicators of student disengagement require appropriate social and emotional interventions that will promote a positive school climate.

WLI has established data driven interventions after completing significant qualitative research that examined the impact of discipline policies resulting in the removal of Black and Brown girls from local schools. These interventions emerged from research which compelled WLI to integrate and catalyze Phase I of their Strategic Plan that will incorporate clinical services. These services will be offered by collaborating with vetted and credentialed providers who will implement a multi-tiered, trauma informed system of support in response to the behavioral and mental health needs presented by Black and Brown girls.

About WLI

The Women’s Leadership Institute is an organization established to advance and improve the personal, economic, and professional status of women and girls. Activities and programs are designed to engage women in development initiatives to attract, evolve, retain, and promote talented women and girls seeking leadership development and opportunities for skills enhancement. We connect women and girls across industries and demographics to help address their most important leadership issues.

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