Center for Creative Leadership; Leadership and Debate Club Program

Location: Ethiopia

Mission: The Center for Creative Leadership’s (CCL) mission is to advance the understanding, practice and development of leadership for the benefit of society worldwide. The primary objective of the Leadership and Debate Club program, specifically, is to create a culture of leadership and debate among university women in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia by providing a safe, nurturing, dynamic, and self-sustaining space in which young university women can develop confidence in themselves as individuals and active members of society.

Focus Areas: Advocacy, Civic Engagement, Community Development, Education

Program Overview:

  • At CCL, youth leadership means helping youth figure out their potential and using it to be the best version of themselves.
  • Key program activities include: a 2-day Leadership Essentials Training; weekly “lunch and learns” that feature guest speakers who are experts in their respective fields; monthly debates with another university for participants to practice communicating an argument in a safe and comfortable environment; volunteer service with NGO’s around e.g. Elilta, a local CSO that provides training and rehabilitation for former female prostitutes and peace corps; and three large public debates to provide the young women an opportunity to defend an argument in public in front of a large audience.
  • CCL believes that youth leadership is important because if they remain undeveloped, youth will not be able to tap into their full potential and will miss all of the important skills they can offer.


  • CCL began focusing on debate clubs after a staff member attended a conflict resolution workshop in Uganda. In this workshop, she saw that debating helped women find their voice, as many of the female politicians engaged were very outspoken. CCL decided this was something they wanted to bring to Ethiopia.
  • In its first year, the project started with one club and 26 students. In the second year, there were six clubs with 25 members each. In the third year, there have been nine clubs with 25 members each, plus 3-5 mentors per club, leveraging past participants. To date, the program has reached over 400 young women in total.
  • Through feedback from participants, CCL has found that women apply what they have learned at home and that they often share what they learn with younger siblings and parents – this spillover of the training into participants’ families has gone beyond what was expected.
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