Thematic Leadership Journey on Family Planning and Contraceptive Access
This Leadership Journey is by nomination only.
The 2024 East Africa Thematic Leadership Journey
Our Thematic Leadership Journey is a targeted, transformational learning and development experience that brings together mid to senior career women across sectors working within a specific theme. This Journey is aimed at creating a mindset shift and developing leadership skills to solve complex challenges in specific domains. East Africa’s 2024 Thematic Leadership Journey will be focused on Family Planning and Contraceptive Access.
Family planning and contraceptive access is a human right and is central to gender equality and women’s empowerment and universal health access. There continues to be close attention to, and investment in, quality family planning and contraceptive access interventions, with a focus on research and innovation, access and service delivery, policy, advocacy, and supply chain. However, there is little investment in or intentional cultivation of the leaders responsible for deploying these resources, inspiring millions of service providers, unifying decisions along the value chain, and ultimately leading through transformative change to improve family planning and contraceptive access outcomes.
The Leadership Journey is a 12-month, fully-funded program for participants to explore their authentic leadership through vulnerability and reflection, build an inclusive and diverse network which fosters a strong sense of belonging, learn and practice tools and strategies for enhancing their voice, presence, and influence – while being supported by a powerful group of peers, mentors, and coaches. Both Signature and Thematic Journeys impart contextualized tools and frameworks to address the individual, organizational, and societal challenges that women leaders in global health face today.
Designed for professional women leaders, the Journey has been thoughtfully crafted for participants to be fully present & engaged. We recognize the importance of work-life harmony.
On This Page:
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 also 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 and other health emergencies, please note that the program may need to be converted to an all-virtual format.
Journey Framework and Elements
Meet the East Africa Coaches
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
Learning Touchpoints are facilitated, virtual and in-person 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.
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.
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-rater 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.
The ‘Leadership Immersion’ is a 4-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 and other health emergencies, the programming and calendar, including the in-person events, may need to be converted to an all-virtual format.
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 African 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:
Thematic Leadership Journey: It should focus on improving outcomes at the intersection of family planning/contraceptive access and gender equality, or take a gendered lens on a global family planning/contraceptive access 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 the four themes in Family Planning and Contraceptive Access:
- Centering women and girls
- Catalyzing institutional change
- Optimizing pathways to leadership
- Building integrated and 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/family planning and contraceptive access data
Introducing or 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 Family Planning/contraceptive access lens into a health policy, practice, or research project where it was absent
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.
The 2024 East Africa Thematic Leadership Journey will take place from March, 2024-February, 2025. 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. The in-person residences include the 4-day Immersion (4-7 June, 2024) in Kenya and the 2-day Lift-Off (25 & 26 February, 2024), in Rwanda .
Nominees may apply for only one of our two Leadership Journeys for 2024, either the Signature or the Thematic. This page is for the Thematic Journey.
You must meet all of the following criteria to be eligible for the Thematic Journey:
- Identify as a woman
- For Thematic Journey – Work in a role that focuses on public health policy, practice, and/or research in the area of family planning and contraceptive access** in the East Africa region. Your work and partnerships serve populations at the national or regional level in your country of residence and may include producing research and innovation, creating or implementing policy, and/or managing teams/departments or projects/grants. Please see further details about the Thematic eligibility requirements below.
- Mid-Career Leader: Possess sufficient years (10 – 20 years) of experience in public health and not less than 5 yrs in the field of Family Planning and Contraceptive Access and embodies the skills, responsibility, and influence befitting a mid-career woman leader
- Reside and work within Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, South Sudan, or Tanzania
- Are a national of one of the five listed countries
- Possess fluency and ease in written and verbal communication in English to express the next level of emotional processing required for the Journey.
*Our 2024 Thematic Leadership Journey is by nomination-only. You cannot apply without being nominated. Please check back next year when we plan to have an open application as well. Thank you.
** Family planning and contraceptive access allows people to decide when and whether to have children, and provides them the information, means, and methods they need to safely do so. Family planning and contraceptive access takes a health systems approach from research and innovatio, evidence based policy and advocacy, health financing, access and intergrated service delivery, health workforce, community engagement, data for decision making and leadership management and governance . Family Planning and Contracetive acess services must be based on the principles of equity,non- discrimination, coercion-free, privacy, safety, and should be affirming and empowering for both men and women who seek this services.
Eligibility for the Family Planning and Contraceptive Access Thematic Leadership Journey:
Our Thematic Leadership Journey is open to any woman who is working in family planning and contraceptive access. Your family planning and contraceptive access work can fit into any of these areas:
- leadership, governance, and management; service delivery; health workforce; financing; commodities and equipment; health information systems; innovation and technology; hospital infrastructure
If accepted, you will be required to attend each virtual and in-person learning residency* as detailed in the 2024 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 8 to 10 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-rater evaluation” and other leadership style assessments, which will inform your understanding of your leadership strengths and growth areas. The 360-rater 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.”
Please see the Journey Elements section above and this document for the rules and parameters of a Leadership Project. See examples of Leadership Projects from the 2022 East Africa 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 if applying to the Thematic Journey, a leader in the global health or family planning and contraceptive access 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 October 31, 2023 by 11:59pm in your time zone.
Notification Period: We will notify applicants of their acceptance status in early December 2023.
Acceptance & Pre-Orientation Period: The 30 accepted candidates will be asked to confirm their participation by late January 2024, after which we will begin pre-Journey onboarding.
Leadership Journey Launch: Orientation commences the week of March 5, 2024.
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?
If your question is still not addressed, you can contact us by clicking the button below.
“Going through the leadership journey was a pipe cleaner for me. I came to realize and appreciate who I am, I got more clarity of my role in the organization and I learnt how to create time for myself. As a result, people around me have taken notice of a difference in me.”
— Maurine Murenga,
Executive Director at Lean on Me Foundation
"The learning touchpoints were knowledge nuggets. The peer coaching session also stood out for me; it was a space I could share freely with my fellow cohorts. Interacting with fellow cohorts made me realize why networks are important and I can fall back on the when I need it. It was an AHA moment for me and was quiet enlightening.”
— Caroline Tatua,
Health Technical Advisor at The International Rescue Committee (IRC)