“I raise up my voice - not so I can shout but so that those without a voice can be heard…we cannot succeed when half of us are held back.” ― Malala Yousafzai
“Being vocal (As a girl we are not taught to take up space. Create an environment to be vocal and communicate)” ―Woman participant in Focus Group Discussion
When we hear quotes like that of Malala’s, of course, we are struck by her message and inspired to take action. But this challenge feels monumentous. How can I, as one woman, possibly help the 3.905 billion women worldwide who are held back, to raise their voices? I already feel overwhelmed and as if the problem is bigger than me.
However, when we asked women leaders in a focus group discussion what they felt were important attributes for women to learn, one of the participants said “Being vocal (As a girl we are not taught to take up space. Create an environment to be vocal and communicate)”. For me, the problem suddenly halved, quartered, and halved again. I heard the same message that Malala was communicating but in different words and in a context that I was comfortable with. I wasn’t just inspired to take action, but it helped me realize how women across the globe have similar experiences, and how important it is to take action together as women, and perhaps even scale that action.
In line with that, the Open Mapping Hub - Asia Pacific is launching “She Leads & She Inspires” - a program that will engage 100 women between December 2021 and June 2022. The program has been co-created with women operating in the OSM ecosystem to help support the emergence of women leaders in what (let’s face it!) feels like a male dominated arena. By starting small, and raising the voices of one, two, maybe a hundred women through this program, we can support women to stop holding back, to succeed, to fail fast and gracefully, to lead and to inspire. The goal of the program is to support women interested in open mapping to grow as leaders within their communities. This includes an opportunity to initiate and lead a humanitarian / development project, use GIS and technical mapping skills, learn how to lead in virtual ecosystems, and more. (The full curriculum will be released in December 2021).
The program is split into three core components:
- A 2 day intensive workshop where participants will hear from experienced and inspiring women leaders from the geospatial ecosystem (scheduled for 18-19 December, 2021)
- Month-by-month learning topics that include interactive training and personal assignments (January - June 2022)
- A group led, co-created community-based project guided by a group mentor (January - June 2022)
To better understand the needs of women already in (or hoping to step into) positions of leadership in the OSM ecosystem and beyond, the Hub conducted several workshops and focus groups to gather insights that will inform the format, content, and resources available for participants in the program.
In total, 26 participants were involved in the community consultation process; 20 of whom were women and six of whom were men; 13 of whom were from the OSM ecosystem; and 16 of whom were from the Asia Pacific region.
The topics discussed included:
- Characteristics of women leaders
- Opportunities for growth beyond the program.
- Defining successful women’s leadership and how that success can be achieved
- Experiences of good and bad leadership programs
- Idea collection for curriculum development
- Innovation in online participation
Certain keywords came up repeatedly in the conversations:
- Inspire – 14 (inspiring others to action, inspiring other women, inspiring each other, inspiring and motivating)
- Community – 14 (community centered, lifting communities, creating community, immersing in community)
- Network – 7 (well-networked, building relationships and networks, OSM networks, networking / peer learning among women)
- Communication – 9 (public speaking, listening, responding)
- Supportive – 6 (supports community, supports others)
- Solution – 5 (solution-oriented, problem solving, OSM-based solutions)
Participants agreed on a number of points:
- Community building should be at the forefront of activities
- Where possible, women in leadership positions in the OSM ecosystem and beyond were preferred as program mentors, speakers and trainers
- All activities, including training, group assignments and mentor sessions, should be highly engaging and interactive and should encourage relationship building between participants where possible
- Resources should be open source, accessible and stored in one location
- Assignments / engagements that involve group activities (such as mentoring and group mapping projects) should involve no more than 5-6 participants to encourage peer-to-peer learning and strong relationship building
- Leadership skills and hard skills (GIS, remote sensing etc.) should be equally addressed in the program
Informed program development
Based on the workshop findings, we have developed the following structure for the program:
- Before the program kick-off, participants will complete a questionnaire so that the coordinators can better understand the needs of the participants (e.g. the level of technical GIS skills) to ensure we are providing the training needed / desired by participants
- 2-3 day intensive workshop
- Icebreakers; opportunity to meet each other virtually and begin network building
- Introduction to GIS
- Communication skills
- Program etiquette and how participants can support each other during the program
- Skills in problem identification
- Proceeding 6 months
- Monthly “topics” that include group assignments (each month, new
- group to enhance network building)
- One humanitarian/development project (6 month project duration; opportunity for funding?)
- Group mentoring with a group of between 5-6 participants
- Embedded opportunity to apply skills learned during the program
At the end of the six months, we anticipate that the participants will be able to carve out their own destinies as inspiring OSM leaders. Participants will be trained, mentored and motivated through professional development opportunities by women leaders who are working / operating within the geospatial ecosystem, managing projects, building networks, and inspiring the next generation of women leaders.
- Training will equip participants with the tools needed to lead and inspire.
- Mentorship will provide a supportive and energizing environment for personal and professional growth.
- Project ideation, articulation and implementation will provide a sandbox for participants to try out new skills, and lead their own project as a group.
Participate in the program
- Are you interested in progressing your leadership skills to become a world-class women leader?
- Are you enthusiastic about learning how to use your knowledge and experience to inspire others?
- Are you interested in how map-making, and geospatial data collection can empower your leadership?
- Do you have a passion for leading responses to local challenges?
If the answer to these questions is YES! We welcome you, your colleagues, peers, networks and friends to apply for She Leads & She Inspires. Together, we can respond to local challenges, strengthen our OSM communities, and work together to close the divide for women in leadership positions.
[Apply today! ]
Get involved as a speaker, mentor or trainer
Are you (or is someone you know) an inspiring woman leader? Do you want to help the next generation of women emerge as leaders in Asia Pacific? Do you have some valuable insights on how to navigate the geospatial ecosystem as a woman?
We are currently looking for inspiring women to speak, engage or mentor in the program. The topics of the talk can be very flexible but would need to pertain to leadership, mapping and/or geospatial in some way.