GLOW Reinas Women's Leadership Program

  • Community Growth
  • Women & Gender
  • Youth
  • Ecuador
This project is led by Linsey Dirkes

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GLOW, which stands for ‘Girls Leading Our World,’ is a Peace Corps program that promotes life skills and gender equality. GLOW Reinas Women’s Leadership Program is a project designed specifically for young women serving as the reina (queen) of their neighborhood. GLOW Reinas aims to increase the capabilities of these young women, so they are better prepared to serve as role models and community leaders. Through the implementation of a leadership program, accompanied by guidance and support to execute a GLOW Club, the reinas will gain knowledge, skills and practical experience. Upon completion of the program, they will be able to educate other young women in their communities through GLOW clubs and day to day interactions. The Department of Social Development will serve as the counterpart organization, assisting with planning and logistics. However, the reinas will be the driving force behind the program. Once the initial reinas are trained as facilitators, they will be responsible for managing the program, providing a unique opportunity for leadership experience. As Ecuador continues to make progress towards gender equality, there are still many challenges to overcome due to the deeply rooted sexism in Ecuadorian society. Women’s salaries are typically 13-26% lower than their male peers, and women work an average of 16 hours more than men weekly. In addition, 60% of Ecuadorian women have experienced some type of violence, and 25% have experienced sexual violence. Providing leadership opportunities for women and promoting awareness regarding these topics is essential for closing the gender gap.

In regards to project planning and design, the municipality and the Peace Corps volunteer have worked hand in hand throughout the process. The initial idea originated from the Peace Corps volunteer’s host mom, whom also works in the municipality. While her proposal was not implemented due to lack of resources, the idea was well received. Based on conversations with co-workers, it was decided that the project would be worth revisiting. Prior to designing GLOW Reinas Women’s Leadership Program, a needs assessment was conducted to better understand the community and to help identify possible projects and activities. Various methods were used to gather information including observation, surveys, interviews and focus groups. Of the 77 youth that completed the survey, more than 90% indicated they would like to learn more about gender equality. In addition, interviews were conducted with community leaders which included several young women serving as reina of their neighborhood. Through the interviews we learned that most of the reinas would like to do more in their communities, but found it difficult as they had no previous experience and received little support from their communities. All of the reinas indicated that they liked the idea of collaborating with other reinas and would be interested in participating in a leadership program for women. As reinas possess a certain level of fame within their communities, we determined they would be a good population to work with to create a sustainable program and reach many people. Based on the results of the needs assessment, the Peace Corps volunteer felt that the Peace Corps’ GLOW Program would complement a leadership program specifically for reinas. The Peace Corps volunteer took the lead on designing and planning the project, but employees within the department (the librarians, the department supervisor, assistant director, etc.) played a role in every step of the process. For example, session plans are being tested with the librarians to ensure cultural appropriateness. In addition, the librarians will eventually serve as counterparts and host the GLOW Clubs in their libraries for the reinas that complete the program.

GLOW Reinas Women’s Leadership Program is designed to be sustainable. To ensure continuity of the program, step-by-step guides will be provided on how to implement the program. In addition, the reina facilitators will be responsible for selecting and training their replacements once their term is over. The Department of Social Development will play an important role assisting the reinas with logistics, including coordinating a space to hold trainings and providing basic supplies. The reinas will be the leaders of the GLOW Clubs, but the librarians will support and assist. In most cases the GLOW Clubs will be held in the municipal libraries throughout the city, making it easier for the librarians to serve as counterparts and eliminating the need for the reinas to coordinate a space. The Peace Corps volunteer will assist and oversee the initial programs to help get the project up and running, but the reinas will be responsible for leading and managing the program from the start, as the point of the project is to build capacity and provide leadership opportunities for young women. The grant money will cover the initial supplies for the first round of participants, but efforts will need to be made to raise money for future implementations. Fortunately, the sessions are designed to use minimal materials and many of the supplies can be reused and handed down to future facilitators. Nevertheless, tips and suggestions for fundraising will be provided in the implementation instructions and training program.

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