OSISA launches ground-breaking Power Up initiative

Coaching programme for young women leaders

Alice Kanengoni's picture

Gender and Women's Rights Programme Manager

October 15th, 2013

The Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) has launched PowerUP! - a ground-breaking initiative designed to invest in emerging young women leaders in southern Africa through coaching and mentorship support.

Fifteen young women leaders will be selected from across the region and then matched with professional coaches and mentors, who will work with them for a year to pursue specific personal leadership development goals. The initiative will catalyse the personal transformation of the young women leaders – through deepening and sharpening their leadership competencies – as a strategy to add to the critical mass of women leading and contributing agency to women’s movements for social justice in the region.

The initiative, which is being piloted for 12 months, is part of OSISA’s broader strategy to strengthen women’s movements in the region, through supporting young women’s personal and collective leadership.

It is in recognition of the fact that women’s movements across the region have played an important role in holding governments and other systems and institutions to account in promoting and protecting women’s human rights and in the promotion of good governance.

However, over the years, women’s movements in the region have suffered from a crisis of leadership, which is symptomatic of the broader leadership crisis on the continent. One of the causes of this crisis is the lack of a clear strategy on how movements regenerate themselves and remain vibrant enough to mobilise and organise around emerging and persistent women’s issues.

PowerUP! seeks to bridge that gap by equipping young women, who are organising and mobilising others, to grow into strong leaders who are meaningfully involved in advocating for change in women's lives in the region.

The programme kicked off on 2 October with an inception meeting in Johannesburg, where the 15 participants from Botswana, DRC, Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland and Zimbabwe had their first contact sessions with their respective life and executive coaches, who will be their thinking partners for the next year.

Professional coaching is increasingly becoming one of the most effective approaches to people development, and it is being used around the world to develop leadership and other competencies across fields and professions. Its reflective nature has the added advantage of enhanced learning and personal development, which ensures sustainable and transformative change in an individual’s perspectives and in her behaviour. It is systematic and goal-directed – allowing for a process that enables measurable and observable real life growth and change in individuals and groups.

PowerUP! will ensure the successful incubation and execution of the desired new leadership profile among the young women leaders who are part of this pilot phase.

About the author(s)

Alice Kanengoni manages the Gender and Women’s Rights programme at OSISA. She joined OSISA from the Johannesburg-based Gender Links, a regional organisation focusing on gender and women’s rights, where she worked as a Senior Researcher. Prior to that, she had worked as a Senior Researcher and deputy head of the gender programme at the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC) in Harare. Alice holds a Masters Degree in Media and Communications, and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Literature.


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