This post originally appeared on the Community of Practice on Scale-up and Gender, Policy, and Measurement.
Like many of my friends and colleagues, when Lean In came out in 2013, I devoured it, eager to learn the secret to throwing my shoulders back and unleashing the confident leader I knew I was on the inside. The book by Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook and one of Fortune Magazine’s Most Powerful Women in Business, had lots of eye-popping statistics and implores women to “take a seat at the table” (literally – she remarks on how often men will sit at the table in a room, but women will often take the chairs on the outer ring of the room). Accompanying the book are Lean In Circles, small groups that get together as peers to support each other to achieve individual goals. She recognizes the power in bringing women together to support each other. But what if your circle of peers is all over the world?
In global health, we inherently understand the importance of including women and girls at the table in every aspect of the work we do. Name a project that doesn’t include at least one component dedicated to reducing gender disparity. But what are we doing to make sure our colleagues – the midwives, the activity managers, the M&E specialists, the recent graduates – have the necessary support for personal and professional development to unleash the public health leadership they have?
The Leadership, Management, and Governance Project is developing a Women’s Mentoring Network to fill this gap. We are designing a platform that will grease the wheels of professional development by linking women who have experience in a wide variety of capacities in global health with women who are seeking skills, confidence, and support. We plan to start the Women’s Mentoring Network in East Africa and scale-up from there.
Sandberg’s Lean In Circles are an effort to bring women in business all over the globe together in small groups to mentor each other as peers. The Women’s Mentoring Network will bring the power of mentoring to global health in a way that works for us, women around the world working in public health.
We envision a cycle of inspiration, encouragement, and support, and we want to hear from you! What skills, advice, or support would you like to gain from a mentoring network? How could this type of network help you achieve your project’s goals?