USAID and HED Announce Women's Leadership Program for Armenia, Paraguay, Rwanda, and South Sudan

Higher Education Partnerships Will Promote Gender Equality and Female Empowerment in Critical Development Sectors

For Immediate Release

Thursday, March 21, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Higher Education for Development (HED) announced its new Women’s Leadership Program. Five universities in the United States have been selected to partner with higher education institutions in Armenia, Paraguay, Rwanda and South Sudan to promote gender equality and women’s leadership. 

Under the Women’s Leadership Program, these critical higher education partnerships will promote and develop curricula and opportunities for women in business, agriculture, and education in the targeted countries, thus supporting key national and local development goals aimed at fostering the advancement of women and girls as articulated in USAID’s Gender Equality and Female Empowerment Policy, released in March 2012. 

With funding from USAID totaling approximately $8.75 million, HED will manage the partnerships: one each in Armenia, Paraguay and South Sudan; and two in Rwanda. 

“USAID is very excited to be collaborating with academic institutions in the United States and abroad in advancing women’s leadership. These partnerships offer a meaningful and important opportunity to ensure women are empowered and advance in economies and societies globally,” according to Carla Koppell, USAID Senior Coordinator for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment. 

“HED is proud to manage the Women’s Leadership Program, which places an emphasis on promoting educational access for women and encouraging their participation in the development of their communities and higher education institutions,” said Tully R. Cornick, HED’s Executive Director. 

Using a collaborative approach, the Women’s Leadership Program is designed to support access of women to higher education and advanced degrees, strengthen institutional capacity in research and education on women's leadership, and promote women's leadership through higher education extension/outreach efforts in underserved communities. Each partnership is focusing on advancing education in a specific sector area, and gender equity awareness is woven into the process. 

Specifically, partnership activities will include: 

Armenia: Arizona State University and Yerevan State University (YSU) will establish a new Center for Gender and Leadership Studies at YSU that will develop new curriculum in women and gender studies; promote career advancement for women university graduates; conduct outreach activities; and advance public policy research on issues related to gender equality and women’s leadership.

Paraguay: University of Florida and National University of Asuncion (UNA) will support national and local development goals that promote gender equality by nurturing alliances among civil society and the public and private sectors to advance women’s leadership and employability skills in the agricultural sector. 

Rwanda (Agriculture): Michigan State University and National University of Rwanda seek to create a gender-sensitive Master of Science program in agribusiness that will promote women's leadership in agriculture, lead to increased opportunities for export, and train agribusiness professionals with strong analytical and business development skills. 

Rwanda (Education): University of California Los Angeles and Kigali Institute of Education will foster strategies that promote gender awareness in classrooms through targeted outreach and recruitment programs, institutional capacity building, and gender-sensitive curriculum and teaching approaches. 

South Sudan: Indiana University, in partnership with Virginia Tech University, the University of Juba, Upper Nile University, and the Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science, and Technology (MoHERST) in South Sudan, will promote gender equality and female empowerment by creating a supportive environment for women to pursue career aspirations in secondary and higher education. 

Many partnership activities are well under way; therefore the duration of each will vary between two-and-one-half years to three years. 

Click here to read USAID’s Gender Equality and Female Empowerment policy.


 About Higher Education for Development

HED mobilizes the expertise and resources of the higher education community to address global development challenges. HED manages a competitive awards process to access expertise with the higher education community in coordination with the American Council on Education (ACE), the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU). For more information about HED, visit