The Women's and Gender Studies Conference took place at King's College, Wilkes-Barre, PA in the Sheehy Farmer Campus Center on April 10-11, 2017. Several members of our staff prepared group presentations for this conference, which focused on third-wave feminism and intersectionality.
Embracing Diversity of Women Religious in Sub-Saharan Africa
The first presentation, titled “Embracing Diversity of Women Religious in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Role of Tailored Higher Education in Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals through Ministry" was presented by:
- Rosemary Shaver, M.Ed., Assistant Director, HESA
- Tara Gregory, M.Ed., Program Evaluator, HESA
- Sneh Akruvala, MS, Ph.D. Candidate, Research Assistant, HESA
- Kimberly Shaheen, MSW, Graduate Research Assistant, HESA
- Heather Wimmer, Marywood University, Graduate Research Assistant, HESA
Presentation Description: The African Sisters Education Collaborative (ASEC) grew from solidarity and global sisterhood among Catholic sisters in the US and in Sub-Saharan Africa. Initiated in 2013, Higher Education for Sisters in Africa (HESA), facilitates access to higher education for women religious in 10 African countries, leading to enhancement and expansion of their ministries in education, health, economic, social, environmental and spiritual services. To deliver HESA, ASEC partners with the Hilton Foundation and university partners to provide financial and academic tools to ensure quality education for sisters. HESA’s work directly influences the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), especially related to education and gender equity. Through obtaining degrees in varied areas, sisters are working to address the 17 SDGs. We will discuss HESA in the context of the SDGs, highlighting the work of sisters at the community and global level, as leaders for sustainable development in countries where sociocultural norms often limit women from accessing education and leadership
Deconstructing Leadership to Reconstruct Communities
The second presentation at the conference, titled “Deconstructing Leadership to Reconstruct Communities: Implementing a Servant Leadership Development Program with Women Religious in subSaharan Africa” was presented by
- Jennifer Mudge, Program Evaluator, SLDI
- Briana Luppino, Graduate Research Assistant, SLDI
- Sr. Kevin Karimi, Graduate Research Assistant, SLDI
Presentation Description: This presentation discussed the Sisters Leadership Development Initiative (SLDI), a program of ASEC, which empowers Catholic sisters as servant leaders in sub-Saharan Africa. Catholic sisters dedicate their lives to service and act as change agents in their communities, yet they oftentimes lack the necessary training and resources to fully implement their roles. Acknowledging the limited opportunities Sisters in Africa experience, SLDI seeks to address this gap by offering grassroots-oriented leadership skill development (in administration, finance, and technology), mentorship, networking, resource mobilization, and continuing education. Within 10 years, SLDI has achieved significant success regarding: sister’s leadership capacities; funds secured by sisters for projects contributing to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals; mentoring experiences; and sisters’ focus on stewardship and planning within their congregations and communities. As SLDI may be replicable with different populations, best practices in developing leadership capacity among marginalized populations will be discussed.
The conference keynote speaker was Susan Muaddi Darraj, an award winning author and Associate Professor of English at Harford Community College in Bel Air, Maryland. More information about the conference can be found on the Wilkes University website.