APPROACH AND METHODOLOGY
This commitment involves developing and defining the role of the African First Lady and providing a platform for current and future First Ladies to use their unique political positions and passions to enact positive social change within their countries. In order to empower these women, numerous challenges and organizational issues must first be overcome. WCI will begin by identifying interested and committed First Ladies and then conducting assessments for each country. These assessments will be used to gauge the current infrastructure within the Office of the First Lady, including the experience level of the staff and the availability of resources. The assessments will also involve an external polling of the populace to determine which issues they would most like to see addressed. Using this knowledge, WCI will conduct a weeklong training for the First Ladies concurrent with the African Union summit in Ethiopia. These training workshops will allow each First Lady to decide on a relevant Legacy Campaign and allow for dynamic networking opportunities between the women. The training will culminate with individual sessions aimed at offering technical support to each of the First Ladies on her 'Legacy Campaign.' During these sessions, WCI staff will provide each First Lady with a mentor to support her and her campaign efforts throughout the year. WCI's Legacy Campaign series will collaborate with, and be complemented by, RAND Corporation's African First Ladies Fellowship Program. The RAND fellowship aims to help First Ladies and key advisors and staff: (a) develop skills for establishing and managing an effective First Lady's Office; and (b) learn practical policy-analysis techniques for improving executive decision making.
To raise the funds necessary to implement these efforts, WCI will also create an interactive website model that will be launched alongside an international media campaign to raise awareness about the website and the Legacy Campaigns overall. This website will connect potential donors with First Lady Legacy Campaigns by promoting people-to-people linkages and social change based on mutual topics of interest. Through this site, the First Ladies and their mentors and staff will be able to raise funds for their campaigns and provide progress updates. The site will be interactive and include discussion forums and multimedia options, such as photo galleries, web chat and video blogs.
IMPLEMENTATION, TIMELINE, AND DELIVERABLES
Specific implementation steps are included in the timeline below. However, the critical weeklong training to be held in late January will allow the First Ladies to strategize about what difference they would like to make in their home country and how to best utilize their position to do so. The training would cover the following topics:
- Identifying Your Issue (Potential issues: Curbing the spread of HIV/AIDS, measles eradication, voter registration, girls' education, increasing women's participation in post-conflict reconstruction, and reducing gender based violence)
- Framing Your Message: Why does your issue matter? What speaks to the Public?
- Public Speaking: Delivering your message, speech writing, sound bytes
- Building a Coalition: Networking, acquiring members and support, involving stakeholders
- Funding: How to reach out to donors and fundraise effectively
- Traditional Media Training: How to best utilize written, televised or broadcasted resources
- Social Media Training: Using SMS, cell phones and the internet to promote your message
September 2010: Launch of the program: WCI will hold preliminary meetings with interested African First Ladies in conjunction with United Nations Millennium Development Goal Summit in New York on September 20th - 22nd and the annual Clinton Global Initiative event from September 21st - 23rd.
September 27th - October 1st, 2010: Present during the RAND African First Ladies Fellowship Program in Washington, DC. RAND is WCI's commitment partner.
October - December 2010: Conduct assessments to determine the current infrastructure and resources available to the interested first ladies and to determine what issues their constituents want most addressed.
January 24th - 31st, 2011: Week-long training program for the First Ladies to coincide with the Annual African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
April 1st, 2011: Launch of 'The Legacy Campaign' website alongside WCI's international media campaign to raise awareness about and excitement around the First Ladies' Projects.
April 2011: Collaborate to co-host the second session of the RAND Fellowship in a select African country (TBD in partnership with First Lady participants).
September 2011: Conduct another domestic meeting in conjunction with the annual Clinton Global Initiative event to assess progress and allow the women to network with each other and potential donors. Present during the RAND African First Ladies Fellowship Program in Washington, DC, during the week following CGI.
October 2011 - August 2012: Full year of operation, including monitoring, mentoring, and the maintenance of the website. WCI will also continue to offer campaign and web-based technical support for all First Ladies, staff, and donors involved.
Summer 2012: Circulate in-country surveys to evaluate the efficacy of each initiative; allow for feedback and potential areas of improvement to be identified
September 2012: Completion of the pilot program.
- Building on and expanding the capacity of the African First Ladies
- Development of a sustainable, strategic plan for the First Ladies' Offices
- Creation and launch of the 'The Legacy Campaign' site
- In collaboration with RAND, improve policy decision-making in women's and children's health and education across Africa.
Throughout Africa, girls and women face daunting challenges including inadequate access to maternal healthcare, low levels of education, high rates of HIV/AIDS, and limited participation in political processes. These limitations affect entire communities and require comprehensive solutions. Over the past 20 years, First Ladies across Africa have established their own country-specific foundations and launched a wide range of projects targeted towards social improvement and development. In doing so, they have consistently demonstrated a clear willingness and ability to make a positive impact in their communities. The First Ladies have also worked towards amplifying their efforts through the establishment of African first ladies organizations, such as the Organization of African First Ladies Against AIDS (OAFLA). Although some of these organizations were short-lasting and others included only a portion of the women leaders, these efforts to collaborate demonstrate the potential power of a robust, sustainable network of First Ladies in Africa. The First Ladies face many challenges in their efforts to improve the status of women and the lives of the people within their respective countries; these challenges include a lack of political experience, weak infrastructure within the Office of the First Lady, untrained personnel, and the absence of a strategic plan for creating, fundraising for, and implementing an initiative.
As such, WCI's commitment aims to help organize this potential energy into a sustainable, well-connected, and continent-wide organization of African First Ladies by providing them with the tools and skills they need. WCI's experience in training women leaders - particularly in emerging democracies and post-conflict regions - as well as its ability to provide institutional support and resources for these women create an invaluable opportunity to create sustainable, comprehensive solutions to a variety of problems plaguing the African continent.