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

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
December 9, 2011

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, in collaboration with the Seven Sister Colleges of Barnard College, Bryn Mawr College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and Wellesley College, will launch a new initiative Thursday to increase the number of women in public service at the local, national, and international levels. The Project will identify and educate a new generation of women committed to public service, create an infrastructure of support and mentoring, and help enable more women to enter public service and political leadership.

On December 15 in Washington D.C., The Women in Public Service Project will host a colloquium featuring Secretary Clinton and a global representation of government leaders, policy makers, public officials, scholars, students, researchers, and leaders in public service.

“Women have to be part of the future. And it’s imperative that as constitutions are created, as political parties are organized, as elections are waged and won, nobody can claim a democratic future if half the population is marginalized or even prevented from participating,” said Secretary Clinton. “We must support the rise of women leaders because frankly, they are more likely to have firsthand knowledge and understanding of the challenges women face. This is going to require legal change, it’s going to require political will, and it’s going to require cultural and behavioral changes.”

Confirmed speakers include Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund; Madeleine Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State; Irina Bokova, Director-General of the United Nations’ Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); Dr. Florence Chenoweth, Minister of Agriculture for the Republic of Liberia; Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations’ Development Programme; Jane Harman, former Congresswoman and Director of the Woodrow Wilson Center; Atifete Jahjaga, the President of Kosovo; Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Secretary of Health & Human Services; and author and activist Gloria Steinem.

A live webcast of the colloquium will be available at Updates on the events and the Women in Public Service project can be found on Facebook at or on Twitter @WPSProject.

The colloquium will highlight the details of The Women in Public Service Project, including a 2012 pilot summer institute at Wellesley to help train promising women leaders from around the world. The pilot will lay the groundwork for further development of curricula for similar educational activities at other institutions and in other regions of the world and will identify areas of research to help combat obstacles to women entering public service and government leadership. Attendees of the program will include rising young leaders from across the globe, including women from Middle East and North Africa transition countries.

“The Sister Colleges have a deep-rooted legacy of educating women leaders on a global level and are enthusiastic about this unique opportunity to help motivate and inform the next generation of women to focus specifically on public service,” said the Sister College presidents as part of this announcement. “We are proud of our Sister College alumnae who have embarked on careers in public service, and are committed to providing women with the tools and resources they need to help increase their leadership skills in the public sector.”

As part of The Women in Public Service Project, 40 women from 37 countries traveled to the United States to participate in an International Visitor Leadership Program. For two weeks, these international public servants collaborated with their American counterparts in cities across the United States to discuss ways in which to strengthen women’s roles in public service. Click here to learn more.

The Women in Public Service Project will also begin to introduce plans to build an online network of support and mentorship to link women in government and public service globally.

About the Women in Public Service Project

The Women in Public Service Project is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the Seven Sisters women’s colleges – Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, Smith and Wellesley – to advance women to positions of influence in governments and civic organizations worldwide. The initiative is distinguished by the partners’ demonstrated legacy of educating women leaders across the globe and linking them to each other through powerful intergenerational networks. The Women in Public Service Project envisions a world in which political and civic leadership is at least 50 percent female by 2050. The Department of State and the Sister colleges are committed to building the infrastructure and convening the conversations necessary to achieve this vision.

Media Contact: Talley Sergent, U.S. Department of State,

PRN: 2011/2101