Standing Up Together – Strengthening Women’s Leadership Capacity

Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, 

without claiming it, she stands up for all women. – Maya Angelou

A woman participating in a GIJTR body-mapping workshop in 2017.

In the past few decades significant strides have been made to ensure female representation in public elections around the world, with a number of countries establishing gender quotas for government positions. Despite these positive steps, cultural stigmas surrounding women’s advancement remain, discouraging elected women from being fully active and effective participants in these leadership roles.

To address this challenge, the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience launched The Stand Up Program in August 2019 as a part of their Women of Conscience (WoC) Initiative, which amplifies the voices of women in peace-building processes worldwide. As a global network of over 300 members in 65 countries, the Coalition understands that we learn best when we learn together. To this end, Stand Up will pair newly elected women officials with other women in the Coalition’s network who can share strategies for strengthening their self-confidence, communication skills, and effectiveness as leaders.

As a pilot for Stand Up, the Coalition, working with member The National Network of Families of the Disappeared

A community memorialization mural in Nepal supported by NEFAD.

and Missing (NEFAD), will mentor five Nepalese women. Like many countries, Nepal has made a concerted effort in recent years to ensure women’s representation in public elections by instituting gender quotas for government positions. Despite this, many elected women in Nepal, as elsewhere, still struggle to have their voices heard and can be reluctant to assume leadership positions. At NEFAD’s request, the Coalition will connect – via monthly video chats – elected women officials in Nepal with members of the Women of Conscience Leadership Council, creating bonds and strengthening their self-confidence, communication skills and effectiveness as leaders.

With the Coalition’s help, we have built a strong network in the region at both the individual and institutional level that will enable us to share ideas, exchange expertise and enact programming together,” says Prabal Thapa, an associate at NEFAD.

According to UN Women, only 24.3% of all national parliamentarians were women as of February 2019, a slow increase from 11.3% in 1995. The Stand Up Program is intended to not only increase the rate of female representation in governments around the globe, but the effectiveness of women as leaders. To learn more, email Sara Murphy, the Coalition’s Director of Development, at

To learn more about the Women of Conscience Initiative, click here or email Sara Murphy, the Director of Development at