Hivos International

Women Empowered for Leadership

Women Empowered for Leadership (WE4L) is a five-year programme (2016-2020) managed by Hivos and implemented together with local partners in Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Jordan and Lebanon.

The programme aims for women to have equal opportunities and the capacity to fully participate in political and societal decision-making processes. This also means women should be recognised and supported by politics and society as leaders and agents of change. We are careful to invest in leadership opportunities and political processes at the sub-national level because this is where decisions are made and policies are implemented that directly affect people’s daily lives.


  1. More women participating fully and effectively in politics and public administration at sub-national level;
  2. Female leaders, linked with women’s rights organisations, have more influence on political and societal developments and on public opinion;
  3. Civic organisations such as trade unions and political parties promote full and equal participation of women in leadership positions and demonstrate a significant change in their own policies and practices;
  4. More recognition and support from the general public for women in leadership positions.

Wide range of activities and target groups

WE4L works directly with potential women leaders, but also with political parties, administrative bodies, trade unions and syndicates, civil society organisations, media and the creative sector. Hivos and our local partners provide training, coaching, and strategic expertise, as well as creative, media and communications expertise.

We use a wide range of activities to reach these target groups. This can include multi-faceted capacity development for women with political ambitions and leadership qualities, networking, coalition-building and cooperation between aspiring women leaders and women’s rights civil society organisations, and creating or improving online and offline networks aimed at women’s political participation and leadership.

WE4L will support empowered women leaders and organisations to use their skills and knowledge to create a more enabling environment for women’s participation and leadership on the ground. This entails women leaders themselves convincing civic organisations, public institutions, community leaders and political parties of the added value of having both women and men in politics and having women in leadership positions.  

The programme also includes advocacy to promote gender-sensitive electoral reforms and quotas for women’s representation in local elections and councils. This takes the form of online platforms, and reports, infographics and videos to highlight women as leaders as well as showing the obstacles they meet. For example, how the media portray women leaders compared to men in similar positions.

WE4L draws on Hivos’ vast and growing experience in Southern Africa and the Middle East on capacity development, campaigning on women’s rights and gender issues, the design and use of new and innovative technologies, project design and implementation, and linking and learning. Hivos has a strong track-record and relevant alliances in the selected countries, with partners who have vast gender expertise and a deep understanding of the local context.


Women Empowered for Leadership is funded through the ‘Funding Leadership and Opportunities for Women (FLOW)’ fund of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This fund aims to create opportunities for women and girls and foster a transformation towards an enabling environment in which women’s rights are better protected. At both local and national levels the programs will contribute to sustainable, inclusive development and to fight against poverty and the lack of equal rights for women and girls.