The Women In Public Service Project


Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Leymah Gbowee signs the Lowell Declaration at the 2011 Women Leaders’ Summit. She will give the keynote address at the 2013 Women in Public Service Project Conference.
The Women in Public Service Project conference reflects UMass Lowell’s commitment to building women’s leadership for economic innovation and conflict transformation. This commitment has been established through the International Women Leader’s Summit on Security through Economic and Social Development and the Women’s Leadership Exchange. In Spring 2011, UMass Lowell hosted a delegation of outstanding women leaders from around the world to meet and learn from each other, forging friendships and building understanding about what it takes to advance security through economic and social development. The delegates from Colombia, Egypt, Israel, Liberia, Northern Ireland, South Africa and the United States spent three days together presenting on their experiences in their home nations and crafting the Lowell Declaration, a pledge to work jointly and with others on a global network with the common goal of creating non-violent solutions to conflict. 

“We join together as colleagues to acknowledge the importance of advancing security through economic and social development. Through collaborative efforts, new international partnerships will be born. While we enjoy our success together at the International Women Leaders’ Summit, we look forward to the larger successes of creating change in our own spheres. We resolve to carry on our new understandings into our organizations, our communities, our nations and our global society.” – Lowell Declaration

The women formed strong connections with each other and came away from the conference with a shared experiences and expectations to take back to their communities. But three days at the conference wasn’t enough to even begin the task of sharing the insights and forming the partnerships necessary for creating change. Something more was needed. The women requested that we share the lessons from the Summit with other women, here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and around the world, and that we create an online network to allow them to stay in touch and mentor other leaders. With the Creative Economy Grant from the University of Massachusetts’ President’s Office, we were able to make that happen. 

We ran three successful leadership workshops with partner organizations to address critical issues of women’s advancement and the promotion of justice and we developed an active online network to allow local and international women to continue the conversations. 

The Women in Public Service Project is the next key step in UMass Lowell’s commitment to be a public sector leader in advancing women’s leadership for conflict transformation through economic development and innovation.

Participants at the 2011 International Women Leader’s Summit

Participants in the 2011 International Women Leaders’ Summit
  • Rosa Jiménez Ahumada of Colombia, Director of the Center for Internal Displacement at the University of Cartagena and coordinator of the Bolívar chapter of the Caribbean Citizens’ Reconciliation Commission. 
  • Marta Ines Romero of Colombia, the Latin American and the Caribbean coordinator for Pax Christi International, a Catholic organization for peace. 
  • Salwa Bayoumi El-Magoli of Egypt, a member of the Al-Shura Council, the upper house of Egypt’s Parliament, head of the National Committee for Quality Assurance and Accreditation and a dean at Cairo University;
  • Mona Makram-Ebeid of Egypt, founding member of the Arab Organization for Human Rights and the Egyptian Council for Foreign Relations, and a former member of parliament in the People’s Assembly of Egypt.
  • Robi Damelin and Seham S.A. Ikhlayel, members of The Parents’ Circle, a group of bereaved Israeli and Palestinian families supporting reconciliation and peace. Damelin’s son was killed while serving in the Israeli army. Ikhlayel’s brother was killed by an Israeli soldier and her mother imprisoned for political activities.
  • Rula Deeb of Israel, director of Kayan, which works to advance the status of women in Israeli-Palestinian society.
  • Gila Svirsky of Israel, founding member of the Coalition of Women for Peace, a group of eight Israeli and Palestinian organizations.
  • Leymah Gbowee of Liberia  co-founded Women, Peace and Security Network Africa, a women-focused, women-led Pan-African Non-Governmental Organization with the core mandate to promote women’s strategic participation and leadership in peace and security governance in Africa.
  • Janet Johnson  of Liberia was a radio journalist assigned to the beat of the executive mansion occupied by President Charles Taylor. She is now a graduate student at UMass Lowell.
  • Linda Sou of Massachusetts, Director of the Lowell Community Health Center’s Teen Coalition and President of the Board of the Angkor Dance Troupe. 
  • Jessica Andors of Massachusetts, is Deputy Director of Lawrence Community Works, a nonprofit community development corporation dedicated to the city’s revitalization.
  • Bronagh Hinds of Northern Ireland, Senior Associate of DemocraShe, an organization she founded 10 years ago after the Good Friday Agreement to advance women in politics, civic society and peace-building at home and abroad. 
  • Monica McWilliams of Northern Ireland, Chairwoman of the National Irish Human Rights Coalition, co-founder of the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition political party and a former member of the Northern Ireland Assembly. 
  • Margaret Ward of Northern Ireland, Director of the Women’s Resource and Development Agency and a founding member of the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition.
  • Barbara Hogan of South Africa, is a former MP, the former Minister of Health and the former Minister of Public Enterprises in the Cabinet of South Africa.  Hogan, an anti-apartheid leader, was included in the 2009 Time 100, an annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.