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Last month, 11 VVLead fellows from nine countries gathered in Lusaka, Zambia, to participate in a VVLead peer-to-peer (P2P) exchange program. The program goal was to create opportunities for the attendees to connect, learn and collaborate with one another through staff-led trainings, fellow-driven workshops and networking.

A highlight of the program was local site visits to explore solutions to some of Zambia’s most pressing challenges. VVLead Fellow Lombe Mwambwa introduced us to NOWSPAR, a Zambian NGO that promotes women’s rights to and through sport. Another fellow, Chisenga Muyoya, invited the group to take part in a financial literacy training for young women at Asikana Network, a youth-led organization that empowers women in ICT related fields.

Reflecting on the P2P Exchange in Zambia from the perspective of a facilitator, I found that this group of fellows walked away from the program with new knowledge and tools to utilize in their professional lives. They also greatly benefitted from the program on a personal level. As the program progressed, each of the women present recognized the importance of improving their work-life balance in order to grow and thrive in all areas of their lives. As fellow Hildigard Mufukare from Zimbabwe said, “I’m going back (home) to define who I am first, before work, before helping people. Who am I? What makes me happy?”

In her own words, fellow Hikmat Baba Dua of Ghana shared this reflection.

Every woman needs a safe, equal learning environment that incites discussion on issues that traditional platforms do not offer. The P2P exchange program made me confident in not only learning from other women leaders but also teaching other women leaders. It was a win-win and the values of collect, collaborate, learn and lead were manifested. This type of empowerment is needed for all women! Many programs I have participated in enhanced my leadership and professional development but the P2P exchange is the first program to specifically equip me with immediate practical knowledge, skills and resources to enhance the work of my organization, League of Young Female Leaders.

Thus, beyond my personal empowerment, individual bonds created and leadership reinforcement, I have returned to Ghana ready to pay it forward and transform my organization. 

Go to Facebook to see photos of NOWSPAR, the Asikana Network and our VVLead fellows and staff in Zambia.