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Gabriella Shypula Reflections on Leadership Learning
2017 Graduates: Najeeha Farooqi | Antoinette Gingerelli

Presented by Antoinette Gingerellii, IWL Leadership Scholar Graduate, 2017

Thank you IWL Scholars Class of 2017 for giving me to opportunity to speak on my experience over the past 2 years here at the Institute for Women’s Leadership .  Entering IWL, I obviously knew the importance of having women in leadership; we all did, otherwise, we would not have applied for the program.  However, throughout my 2 years I learned that there is a difference between simply having women’s leadership versus feminist leadership. As Sweta teased me about in our reflections for our last class together, I do love numbers and statistics. Traditionally in politics and government, my policy track, we usually look at the numbers in regards to representation, but sometimes this is not enough.  Having high numbers of representation is important because, first and and foremost, we need women at the decision-making table, but IWL has taught me to dig deeper into what is means to truly be a leader, and a feminist leader at that.  IWL has taught me to ask important questions like: Are all voices at table being heard and valued?  Is the discussion taking place collaborative?  Are the perspectives of marginalized communities being heard by those who represent those specific communities themselves?  Not only do we need to change the numbers, but we need to change the space and the system too.

And this goes beyond politics.  Whether it in the world of art, grass-root organizing, media or entrepreneurship, we need to continue to challenge norms and constantly question space.  During my work at the United Nations as a Youth Representative for the American Association of University Women, there were constantly conversations about this idea of “intergenerational dialogue,” but I continually saw the voices of young women dismissed.  And it’s not just the UN, it is in so many spaces on a local level too.  As young women from different backgrounds and with experiences, each an everyone of us brings something to the table, and IWL has helped reaffirm that our voices matter even at the most difficult times.  Moving forth from the Institute, I know I will remember all I have learned, especially at the times when I am questioning whether my voice matters; because IWL has taught me my voice matters.  And when other women doubt the power of their voice, I will continue to support them the way each and every person in my cohort has done for me.  Words cannot describe how grateful I am to have had such an incredible group of people supporting me, teaching me, and growing with me over the past two years in my IWL cohort through our long nights working on grant proposals, social action projects, papers, and simply silly jokes in our Groupme.  And although we are going different directions, I know we will only continue to support each other and grow together as some pretty badass change makers and leaders in the world.  Thank you.


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