The 2023 India Leadership Journey

Program Duration: April 2023 – April 2024
Format: Hybrid (both virtual and in-person elements)*
Cost: None (all program costs, including travel and lodging, are covered)
Effort: Approx. 3-4.5 hours each month
Apply By: The application window has closed. please check back in summer of 2023 for the next application cycle.

The fully funded, 12-month India Leadership Journey is designed to provide talented mid-career women leaders in health with the safe space to explore their authentic leadership through vulnerability and reflection, an inclusive and diverse network which fosters a strong sense of belonging, tools and strategies for enhancing their voice, presence, and influence – all the while being supported by a powerful group of peers, mentors, and coaches. The program imparts contextualized tools & frameworks to address the individual, organizational, and societal challenges that women leaders in global health face today. 

We believe the type of women leaders who would benefit most from this program are those who value diversity, equity, and inclusion; see the value of bringing diverse lived experiences to policy and practice; and are eager to not only expand their leadership presence and influence, but pay it forward to others in their organization and community. 

*Covid Caveats: At this time, the program includes two in-person residences as well as once-a-month virtual touchpoints, but due to uncertainties caused by Covid-19, please note that the program may need to be converted to an all-virtual format.

Designed for professional women leaders, the Journey was thoughtfully crafted for participants to be fully present & engaged. We recognize the importance of work-life harmony. 

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“The Leadership Journey has been critical in realizing my potential to overcome my inhibition and grow as a woman leader. The insight extracted from the extensive feedback provided by my peers, superiors and subordinates has been groundbreaking for me, providing a new vision and actionable insights to decode my professional as well as personal strengths and weaknesses. Interacting with my fellow cohort members is rejuvenating and motivating, as we have found commonalities in the various challenges that we face and overcome during our professional journeys. Mentor-mentee sessions have further cemented our resolve to mitigate the various bottlenecks that women leaders face. For me, WomenLift has become a mentor as well as a soulful companion. ” — BHAVNEET BHARTI, Director Principal at Dr. B.R. Ambedkar State Institute of Medical Sciences, SAS Nagar, Punjab

“This is a unique journey where the focus is on inner transformation as a leader, so that we can understand ourselves better and, in the process, drive systemic change. It has not only helped me assess strengths and areas for improvement in my work, but also to introspect on how to be an empathetic and effective leader, focusing on the ‘self’ as well as ‘others’. The program has enabled me to interact with women leaders from all across the health sector in India. Sharing this experience together has helped us understand our common struggles, celebrate our achievements, and build a sense of community and a stronger commitment to working for equitable health systems and better health outcomes. ” — SAPNA KEDIA, Technical Specialist at International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)

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Application Window Now Closed for 2023 India Journey


Hear from the Alumnae

Watch inspiring testimonials and Leadership Journey reflections from some of our alumnae members around the world. 

The Leadership Journey Framework

The contextualized Journey is uniquely designed to cultivate competencies that bolster four leadership styles: Authentic, Inclusive, Strategic, and Impactful.

Elements of the Journey

Virtual Learning

Learning Touchpoints are facilitated, virtual group sessions. Cohort members explore leadership frameworks, research & tools in highly interactive learning touchpoints and workshop-style sessions focused on dynamic practice. The touchpoints focus on personal & professional growth, relevant topics and priorities for health leadership, as well as their Leadership Projects. These sessions allow the cohort to share with and learn from each other. 

Virtual Mentorship

Effective women leaders are championed by a network of strong supports, including that of mentors. We identify senior-level leaders from different backgrounds, health sectors, and disciplines to serve as mentors to the cohort. Mentoring groups, comprised of several cohort members and one mentor, are grouped based on complementary backgrounds and professional trajectory. Cohort members will be able to rely on their mentor as a technical and career resource during the Journey.

Virtual Coaching

Having a personal leadership coach is critical in helping navigate change and adapting to new challenges on the path towards leadership roles.

Cohort members are paired with an executive coach who works one-on-one with them to build on their strengths and address areas for growth. Leadership style assessments, including a “360-degree evaluation,” will inform these conversations and enhance each participant’s understanding of their own leadership skills. With this gift of feedback and support from their coach, participants can decide which leadership competencies to focus on, paving the road for them to be a more powerful and effective leader. 

The combination of mentors and coaches is powerful as women prepare for the next level of their career, providing both professional connections and transformational leadership guidance. 

In-Person Residencies*

The ‘Leadership Immersion’ is a 3-day experiential convening that takes place a few months into the Journey. Through dynamic discussions and hands-on exercises, cohort members enhance their skills, apply them to real-world examples, and reflect on lessons learned. A series of powerful conversations will complement the instruction, featuring eminent figures in global health who have led transformational change.

The 2-day ‘Leadership Lift-Off’ event at the end of the Journey celebrates the cohort’s growth as they ‘lift off’ to a new phase of their leadership. Cohort members will reflect on their leadership evolution through the course of the year and present their leadership projects to their peers as well as other global health audiences.

*Covid Caveats: Please note that due to uncertainties caused by Covid-19, the  programming and calendar, including the in-person events, may need to be converted to an all-virtual format.

Leadership Project

The Leadership Project is an opportunity for each member to design and lead an effort that taps into their expertise, network, passion, and creativity.

Participants enter the Journey with a project idea and develop a Theory of Change, stakeholder analysis, and implementation plan with the guidance of their mentor, coach, and global health experts. The implementation phase of the project begins in the latter half of the Journey. Finally at the Leadership Lift-Off event, each cohort member presents a summary of their project’s development and early outcomes. 

Implementation of the project does not have to be fully complete by the end of the Journey and will likely continue beyond it. 

There are only 4 rules for the Leadership Project: 

  • It should focus on improving outcomes at the intersection of health and gender equality, or take a gendered lens on a global health issue
  • It should leverage your leadership skills
  • It should be within your scope of control or influence, but also stretch you beyond your day-to-day work requirements
  • You should be passionate about it

Leadership Projects fit into one of four themes:

  • Centering women and girls in health
  • Catalyzing institutional change
  • Optimizing pathways to leadership
  • Building integrated & resilient health systems

Your Leadership Project could accomplish one or more of the following, but is not limited to:

  • Answering a research question 
  • Promoting health or gender education in a particular group
  • Developing a new or better technology
  • Innovating a better way to collect/analyze/use health/gender data
  • Improving a gender or health-related process/system in your organization
  • Empowering or enabling women in your community or organization to be successful
  • Incorporating a gendered lens into a policy, practice or research project where it was absent

JourneyPLUS Sessions

JourneyPLUS sessions are optional events that offer informal, but focused spaces for the cohort members to build community with one another and explore special topics. The sessions often feature guest speakers such as senior global experts and Leadership Journey alumnae.

Program Dates

The 2023 India Leadership Journey will take place from April 2023 – April 2024. Before applying, please check the dates and timing of the sessions to ensure that you would be able to attend all touchpoints. All touchpoints are mandatory to attend aside from the JourneyPLUS events. The in-person residences involving travel include the 3-day Immersion (June 21–23, 2023), location TBD and the 2-day Lift-Off (March 2021, 2024), location TBD. 

You are eligible for consideration if you meet all of the following criteria:  

  • Identify as a woman 
  • Work in a role that focuses on public health policy, practice, and/or research (Your work and partnerships serve populations at the national or regional level in India and may include practicing public health, producing research and innovation, creating or implementing policy, supporting service delivery, or managing teams/departments or projects/grants in public health.) 
  • Are a mid-career leader: Possess sufficient years (10–20 years) of experience in public health  
  • Are an Indian National and reside and work within India 
  • Possess fluency and ease in written and verbal communication in English to express the next level of emotional processing required for the Journey 

We require participants to be living in the India Standard Time (IST) time zone for at least 75% of the program as we believe time zone compatibility is essential to your ability to engage with your peers within and outside of the touchpoints.  

Access our Application FAQ here. If you have any questions about the application or process, please contact   

If accepted, you will be required to attend each virtual and in-person learning residency* as detailed in the 2023 Calendar and to complete the deliverables associated with the Leadership Project. The JourneyPLUS sessions are optional to attend. 

The time commitment for the required Leadership Journey activities (all virtual touchpoints and inter-session activities) ranges from between 3 to 4.5 hours each month, with the exception of the months of the in-person residencies. This estimate does not include the time required for the design, planning, and implementation phases of your Leadership Project, so please consider that in your decision to participate in the program.   

There is no cost to participate if you are selected. All program costs, including travel and lodging, are covered.  

Please ensure you have access to a computer and Internet in order to attend the virtual touchpoints. Proficiency in English is expected as all sessions will be conducted in English.  

You will also be asked to complete a “360-evaluation” and other leadership style assessments, which will inform your understanding of your leadership strengths and growth areas. The 360-evaluation will involve soliciting feedback from your boss, peers, direct reports, and others.   

While the following are not technical requirements, our hope is that you will bring your drive, passion, and commitment to the program, engage actively with your peers, mentors, and coaches, and take full advantage of the resources provided. As our approach involves human-centered design, we will ask you to evaluate your experience and contribute ideas for how to enhance the Leadership Journey for future cohorts. One of the most important takeaways of this Journey are the relationships you form during this year. As many of our alumnae would say, “Behind every successful woman is an amazing group chat.”  

Download our Application FAQ here

Please see the Journey Elements section above and this Leadership Project brochure for the rules and parameters of a Leadership Project. See examples of Leadership Projects from the 2020 U.S. Cohort and 2021 U.S. Cohort by watching their inspiring Lift-Off videos.  

Within the application, you will be asked to describe your Leadership Project idea, which is a critical element of your application. Implementation of your project does not have to be fully complete by the end of the Journey and can absolutely continue beyond it. 

WomenLift Health does not provide funding for your Leadership Project. The support we provide is mainly in the form of connecting you with highly experienced mentors, coaches, and experts within our team and network. Your peers can also be an excellent resource for enhancing your project. We also encourage you to align your project with your work stream and gain buy-in from institutional leaders. 

Please include a letter of recommendation from your supervisor. If unable to obtain a letter of recommendation from your direct supervisor, you may submit a letter written by a senior leader at your current organization or a leader in the global health community who has experience working with you.  

The letter of recommendation may speak to:  

  • The significant contributions you have made to your professional field that demonstrate leadership capacity  
  • Your strongest personal quality which distinguishes and qualifies you for selection to participate in this Leadership Journey  
  • How this Leadership Journey will help you enhance your leadership knowledge and skills  

In order for your application to be considered complete, you must upload and submit your letter of recommendation as part of your application by the deadline. 

Open Application Period: Application period closes on December 9, 2022 by 11:59pm in your time zone.  

Notification Period: We will notify applicants about their acceptance, waitlist, or rejection status between late February to early March 2023.

Acceptance & Pre-Orientation Period: The 30 accepted candidates will be asked to confirm their participation by early March 2023, after which we will begin pre-Journey onboarding.   

Leadership Journey Launch: Orientation commences the week of April 1, 2023.

This program brings the considerable resources of the New Venture Fund (NVF), a 501(c)(3) public charity that incubates new and innovative public-interest projects and grant-making programs. Our sponsor, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has provided the funds to enable this movement. Our Leadership Journey curriculum design partner and touchpoint facilitator is the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL). The cohorts’ virtual learning and engagement platform is developed and powered by our partners at TechChange   

Have questions about the application?

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Quotes from the Cohort

“Leadership is about exploring your meaningful life, one that makes you happy! It is about knowing yourself and inspiring people at work, in the family and in the community. The WomenLift Health journey helps you experience this perspective of leadership. Its engaging and thought-provoking interactions leave you with a lifelong learning. I think women with a desire to make a change must apply!” — AYESHA CHAUDHARY, Consultant at World Bank; Advisor at Stanford University, India Program, Byers Center for Biodesign; Adjunct Professor of Practice at IIT Jodhpur

"Being part of the WomenLift Health Leadership Journey has been a special blessing. I am particularly grateful for the mentorship and valuable life lessons I have received. Learning to break barriers between people and take everyone together; treating yourself as a professional first rather than a woman or man; taking care of your needs and the needs of your team to allow them to thrive; using your head and heart for decision-making; and empowering the next generation of young women leaders --- these lessons will guide us forward even when the waters are rough and the path is not clearly seen. I am so thankful for this exciting and enriching experience.” — SANJANA BRAHMAWAR MOHAN, Director at Basic Healthcare Services