EASUN has managed an internship program for young women leaders since 2009. By 2013, four (4) young women (ages 25-30) from Tanzania and Kenya had participated in the internship and emerged to occupy strategic leadership positions in the context of civil society development activities in the East African region.
The overall objective of the internship is to strengthen both the substance and perception of women’s leadership in East Africa, as well as transform overall leadership styles towards more facilitative and transformational qualities. After completion of their internship within EASUN, the young women leaders will have a chance to provide leadership in civil society organizational and project settings; where organizational learning and inclusive, team-based participative processes and structures can easily be piloted, documented and replicated.
The internship is creating possibilities for women to lead and facilitate the development of others from a young age. This is a significant departure from the usual pattern of male dominated leadership situations that are failing to offer leadership orientations to the youth. Training young women is a key strategic intervention by EASUN in a context that is experiencing a general erosion of democratic leadership.
New intern from Uganda
Akampurira Busingye joined EASUN’s internship progtamme in August 2014, for a two-year duration. Her leadership vision is to see the emergence of participatory communities that are consciously managing and sustaining just, peaceful and equitable relations.
Akampurira stated her personal leadership vision and mission during her first formal coaching session at EASUN, on 16th December 2014.
Akampurira’s personal leadership mission
“Diligently build my capacity to impact on society positively by transforming people’s ability to deal with their structural and emerging development questions and challenges.”
Through further conversations with her listening partner at EASUN, Akampurira clarified what she meant by structural questions as “behaviours and attitudes shaped by lack of awareness, which often lead to exploitation of specific groups of people often endure because they are rationalized as a basis for maintaining harmony or peace—although not necessarily with justice as a pre-condition.
Similarly, she explained emerging development questions as issues that remain un-resolved or stuck, over time, and are often glossed over on the pretext of prevailing culture or procedures. Such development questions require transformative learning, i.e, deep level changes in information being provided or ways of thinking and assumptions about specific situations.
Akampurira’s expressed new learning from the first coaching session pointed to the question of values and the courage to scrutinize them as the foundation of transformational leadership; noting that her own vision statement carried a clear set of values: “The coaching enabled me to measure my commitment to personal development as a change leader.” The mental models and feelings that drive me as an individual have been brought to the surface for me to examine with greater openness.”
Vision and mission, being statements of purpose, are the core of any strategy. This was, therefore, a key starting point for planning and implementation of values-based leadership for the “young woman leader” from Uganda.