USAID and HED Host Women's Leadership Program Partners Meeting in Kigali

Participants from Rwanda, South Sudan, Paraguay, Armenia and the U.S. Gather for Education Strategy Sessions on Promoting a Shared Vision for Women’s Leadership in Critical Development Sectors

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, July 24, 2013
USAID Press Office

Kigali, Rwanda (July 23, 2013) –The critical issues surrounding women’s leadership and gender equality are taking center stage this week at a partners meeting hosted by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Higher Education for Development (HED).

Representatives from five U.S. universities selected to participate in the recently announced Women’s Leadership Program and their counterparts from tertiary institutions in Armenia, Paraguay, Rwanda and South Sudan are in the capital city for four days of strategy sessions, collaboration, and dialogue.

The meeting’s theme is, “A Shared Vision for Promoting Women’s Leadership Through Higher Education.” Speakers at the inaugural event include Peter Malnak, mission director, USAID/Rwanda; and Henriette Umulisa, permanent secretary, Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion. 

"USAID/Rwanda is excited about this program and the promise it holds,” stated Malnak. “Investing in women's empowerment and leadership is fundamental to strong and sustainable development. Educated, empowered women are healthier, start families later, and are more economically successful – and they transfer these benefits onto their children, raising a whole generation of citizens who are better prepared to contribute to the economic development process."

The Women’s Leadership Program is supporting access of women to higher education and advanced degrees, strengthening institutional capacity in research and education on women's leadership, and promoting women's leadership through higher education extension/outreach efforts in underserved communities in the targeted countries. Each higher education partnership is focusing on advancing education in a specific sector area, and gender equity awareness is woven into the process.

The partners meeting began July 22 with a networking event. Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president at the American Council on Education in Washington, DC and HED advisory board chair; and Gary Bittner, USAID division chief for higher education, workforce development and training, delivered welcome remarks.  

“The Women’s Leadership Program is but one example of how HED, with funding from USAID, links colleges and universities in the United States with tertiary institutions overseas to address some of the world’s most pressing development challenges,” Hartle said. “In leveraging the expertise of U.S. higher education, HED plays a major role in advancing U.S. government objectives by expanding access to education and promoting economic growth.”

With funding from USAID totaling approximately $8.75 million, HED is managing all five partnerships.  The meeting continues through July 25.

About The U.S. Agency for International Development

The American people, through the U.S. Agency for International Development, have provided economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide for over 50 years. For more information, visit

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 or follow HED on Twitter @HEDprogram.