The Department of State and the five leading women colleges founded the Women in Public Service Project with the goal of increasing the number of women who lead the public sector. As a student interested in the advancement of women and girls, I was not surprised that Bryn Mawr was part of this project; after all, it has been educating women to lead for more than 125 years. What did surprise me was the level of commitment that all partners exhibited during the Inaugural Colloquium that I attended in December 2011 to ensure that the program was not solely ideological. One of the main factors that make this project unique is its ability to leverage resources and partnerships to host discussions, trainings, and events to achieve its goal of 50% female political leadership by 2050. In under a year and six months, WPSP has hosted four institutes focusing on several aspects of public service providing women with access to resources, trainings, and networks in order to defy the gender biases that often keep women from entering the public sector.
This summer, Bryn Mawr will continue its commitment to this project by hosting an institute focusing on peacebuilding and development for 50 women from post-conflict societies. These women will learn about negotiation and conflict resolution, as well as obtain practical skills about how to run for office or draft policy. In multiple ways, the institute will be a place where emerging women leaders will obtain key skills to be successful in public service and create the networks that will sustain this project. In my role as a Student Assistant for the Institute, I have come to understand the transformations that can happen when women have a voice in government. As a senior, I am proud to say that my college understands that such a program is an investment that will benefit not only the women who will be part of our institute, but their communities and our world.
Jomaira Salas, a senior at Bryn Mawr, was born in the Dominican Republic and grew up in Lynn, Massachusetts. She is majoring in Sociology with a minor in Education and her primary interest is access to education, particularly for women and girls. In 2011, Jomaira wrote about this during her trip to Bangladesh for an international conference hosted by the Asian University for Women. She has completed summer internships for the Mayor’s Office of Philadelphia and Girls Inc., a non-profit that serves girls in low-income communities.