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Women of WONDER: leading the way

Empowering women to become leaders in their own lives can bring widespread positive change. Women leading the way at WONDER Foundation tell us what this means for them. 

Our work at WONDER empowers women to be leaders in their own lives: to make informed life choices and lead the way in their own personal development. In this regard, women of WONDER are leading the way.

WONDER has a leadership team composed entirely of women, 90% of the board of trustees are women, and we work with partner organisations led by women. They are wonderful role models, using their leadership positions to empower other women to become leaders of their own lives and in their communities.

The theme of International Women’s Day this year is women in leadership. Throughout this month, we’ll be celebrating our own female leaders and the example they set for women’s empowerment across the globe. In this blog post, women leading the way at WONDER share their sources and messages of inspiration for women and girls aspiring to be future leaders. 

What inspires you?

“Using creativity, tenacity and the power of a collaboration to achieve something that most people believe can’t be done” is what inspires Ami Encarnacion, chair of WONDER’s board of trustees.

Indeed, collaboration is a consistent source of inspiration among the women who lead WONDER and its partner organisations; working together with other women to achieve positive change motivates a lot of our work. “It’s amazing what we can do when we work together”, says Olivia Darby, co-founder and Director of Policy at WONDER. 

Our partners and the women and girls we serve together inspire me. It’s amazing what we can do when we work together.

Olivia Darby

The success stories that arise from these collaborative projects are also incredibly inspiring, as education has an enormous power to evoke change. Christelle Digata Mona, Project Manager at ISSI, our local partner in DR Congo, tells us how she is “inspired by the transformative power of education. I am inspired by what women can achieve when they have an education”.

The women and girls we work with at WONDER are often determined to make the most of these transformational opportunities. Seeing them do so inspires our leaders’ commitment to making quality education and employment opportunities accessible to all. 

How do you inspire women and girls to be leaders? 

Setting a good example is a powerful way that female leaders can inspire others. Role models represent what is possible, and therefore encourage women to raise their aspirations. “I have benefited greatly from seeing and working with inspiring leaders. I understood from those experiences the importance of being a good example”, remarks Charlene Ching, Partnerships Manager for FPTI, our local partner in the Philippines.

Partnerships Manager for FPTI. Similarly, Maria Rodriguez, Project Office Manager for Junkabal, our local partner in Guatemala, says she inspires women and girls to be leaders by trying to “set a good example”. By being a role model, and showing what is possible, women in leadership positions also inspire other women to believe in their own potential.

Helping women understand their value and worth as humans and as drivers of economic and social good is key.

Ami Encarnacion

“Helping women understand their value and worth as humans and as drivers of economic and social good is key”, believes our chair Ami. This step is vital to empowering women to be leaders, as self-doubt in women can be an obstacle to their ambition.

Olivia, WONDER co-founder, observes that “so often women focus on what hasn’t worked, or still needs to be done. It’s really hard to recognise oneself as a leader if we don’t recognise our own strengths and achievements”. As such, one of the ways she motivates women is to “recognise their successes”.  

Why is it important for women and girls to have leadership skills?

“Once we are leaders of our own lives we have a huge potential to make this world a bit better. To spread love, and to help many people to have hope and happiness”. Carmen Gonzalez, CEO of WONDER, has beautifully articulated the purpose of empowering women to be leaders: to encourage positive, love-fuelled progress.

Developing leadership skills in women and girls across the globe triggers a positive, knock-on effect: it can “contribute to building a better future for all”, says Pankhuri Anand, WONDER volunteer. It not only affects positive change in the lives of the individual women but in their families and communities too. 

It is crucial that more women and girls develop leadership skills and contribute to building a better future for all.

Pankhuri Anand

This is, in part, because empowering women to become leaders brings more female voices to the leadership table. This helps bring different perspectives, boosts creativity, and encourages inclusivity. As Julie Hudtohan, WONDER’s HR advisor puts it, “a diverse world is a better world”.  

Furthermore, leadership skills unlock opportunities for women and girls. Dr Belinda Nwosu, academic researcher and consultant in the hospitality industry, regards leadership skills as the key to overcoming future challenges. She believes that “with this skill-set, every other challenge can be navigated”. With greater leadership skills comes better employment opportunities, increased self-belief, and a stronger voice in any discussion: at work or at home. 

Leadership for all

Developing leadership skills for all women is clearly an important element of WONDER’s work, and women’s empowerment more globally. There are different ways to be a leader. We can lead from the front, the back, or the middle, through our example, encouragement or vision. Some of us may be leaders at work, others in their families, others in their communities. When we see that everyone has something important to contribute, we give people the chance to give their best, recognise their strengths, step back and give them the chance to lead in their own way.