Declaration and Call to Action on Women and Leadership (ILA)

From the ILA Global Women and Leadership Conference, this new report, a Declaration and Call to Action on Women and Leadership:

Overwhelming evidence confirms that gender inequality exists in many different areas, and that women are not encouraged to think of themselves as leaders. This limiting environment begins in childhood and continues through adulthood. Girls are less likely than boys to obtain a secondary education in most developing countries (UNICEF State of World’s Children, 2007). Research also shows that when women have more influence in households, obtain an education, work in safe and fair environments, and are part of the political process, not only do their household (family, income, health, etc.) improve, so does society as a whole (UNICEF State of World’s Children, 2007).

Even the youngest girl can have a huge impact on her home, community, country, and world; the earlier we infuse her with leadership ideals, characteristics, skills, mindset, and education, the greater the likelihood that barriers to her equality will be overcome. A basic question is: How can we provide girls and young women a head start as leaders and give them the tools and support to succeed in an ever-changing and barrier-riddled cultural, educational, employment, and global environment? The proceedings of the Asilomar Conference confirmed the existing barriers to inequality but also pushed the boundaries of existing models, platforms, organizations, and declarations focused on girls and young women becoming leaders in these turbulent times. We seek to continue to collaborate with all stakeholders to move forward in developing and supporting our future women leaders through these specific declarations and calls to action.”

Some of their declarations about women and leadership:

We declare that in order to best address “how” to help young women and girls to become leaders, we must have a broad and rich understanding about women and leadership across cultures, religions, races, economic variants, and political traditions. We must understand the various journeys to leadership and the influence of social forces; we must also explore the diverse views on leadership from multiple cultural perspectives…..

We declare that helping young women and girls become leaders should include collaboration with supportive, innovative, and compassionate men, young men, and boys when possible and when their cultural traditions are conducive. From our first declaration to the last, women should seek the input of men when possible, and should engage and include men in the development, design, and ongoing conversations regarding leadership. Young men and boys in similar training and development should be included so that men and women grow as leaders together.

We declare a need to create openness by understanding, defining, and encouraging the process by which women “own” leadership. We recognize that in many cases women are leading but do not consider themselves to be leading or to be leaders. Thus, defining leadership and studying women in leadership are crucial. Women have an important role in the way young girls view leadership by women; confidence and clarity are essential.

We declare that social media and technology play a pivotal role in the means by which we engage young women and girls. Our role begins with considering the ways we champion valuable information, counter non-valuable information, and challenge and shift the media portrayal of women. The shift can be achieved through women leaders of and in media organizations who have a shared vision for strength of character and the role of the feminine, creating a new portrayal strategy.

We declare that the reach of leadership development programs must be extended to marginalized and underserved women populations, including working-class women, rural women, migrant women, and other groups. Privileged women are often held up as leadership role models, yet their leadership challenges are usually much different from those of women with less privilege. Leadership education models must acknowledge and honor the needs and challenges of all women.

We declare that prevailing leadership styles and patterns are predominately hierarchal, autocratic, and exclusive despite research that suggests relational, consensus-building, inclusive styles are more effective. We believe this traditional mode of leadership is no longer fit-for-purpose in our rapidly changing world with its increasingly complex, transnational challenges. Further, we believe a paradigm shift in leadership style and approach that values and rewards behavior that models connectedness, inclusiveness, mutual respect, interdependence, integrity, and authenticity is required.

When I’m at the International Leadership Association conference at the end of this month, I’m looking forward to meeting some of the people who drafted this exhaustive document, full of these potent “declarations” as well as commitments to action that inspire me to deepen my research and expand my trainings in authentic leadership and the power of building strong, flexible core stories as the heart of understanding ourselves and our role as leaders!

I hope I’ll see you there, too! Introduce yourself — let’s talk about transformational leadership for women, girls, and all people.

Read more of the report…


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