By Elyse Gainor
“The VVLead Fellowship has worked as a rocket propeller in my life: it has motivated me and encouraged me to overcome several unfathomable reasons which held me back from reaching out for opportunities. Then my life became really truly meaningful…I [switched] from the corporate sector to the social sector and it’s a switch that it is only possible because of the VVLead program.” – Rashmi Tiwari, India
In 2013, VVLead set out to test and implement a new and innovative model for women’s leadership development programs. With three-year pilot funding from the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID), VVLead provided a combination of online and in-person programming to support the capacity building needs of 330 women leaders from across the globe.
To highlight the experiences and learnings gained from the VVLead Fellowship Program, Vital Voices Global Partnership has released five publications to explore the program model and the impact achieved over the past three years. These publications illuminate the best practices and most compelling outcomes of the program.
The VVLead Fellowship Program: A Programmatic Approach to Women’s Leadership introduces the program model and fellow experience of the program. Since the program’s inception, VVLead has been anchored by three essential pillars: Connect, Learn and Collaborate. In order to facilitate the experience of connecting, learning and collaborating, VVLead has provided four key program offerings for each fellowship class: Online courses, Peer-to-Peer Exchanges, an annual South-South Exchange and Challenge Grants, each having been tailored in response to fellow’s self-identified capacity building and leadership needs.
Peer-to-Peer Exchange: Best Practices for Designing Learning Exchanges reveals key insights from implementing the Peer-to-Peer Exchange, a small convening of eight to 12 fellows brought together for fellow-led technical training, knowledge sharing and resource sharing. Through implementing the Peer-to-Peer Exchange model and collecting feedback from VVLead fellows having participated in Peer-to-Peer Exchanges, Vital Voices discusses why the Peer-to-Peer Exchange is a powerful model for user-driven, non-hierarchal leadership building.
Stories of Impact: The Case for Women’s Leadership Networks highlights the fellow experience of participating in VVLead and belonging to the VVLead network. Through both formal and informal program offerings, a sisterhood was created, fellows were validated as leaders, professional goals and action steps were clearly defined, and fellows took action toward achieving greater impact in their communities.
The VVLead Fellowship: Best Practices for Implementing Women’s Leadership Programs shares key recommendations for implementing a blended learning program focused on women’s leadership development. Using observations from staff and feedback from fellows, Vital Voices discusses essential takeaways for program design and implementation, impact measurement, and program sustainability and replicability.
Tracking Impact: A Handbook for High Quality Data Collection was developed as a result of VVLead’s efforts to understand how fellows record and track data for monitoring and evaluation. The handbook is a step-by-step guide for how to keep records and measure impact, and includes anecdotes from fellows in the field.