April 23, 2012 | Education, Politics and Leadership

Women in the World on Campus: The Next Generation of Women Leaders

Women in the World on Campus is seeking the next generation of women leaders, starting now.

By Anna Louie Sussman

NEW YORK CITY -- “Travel outside of your world,” Dr. Kakenya Ntaiya told a crowd of Barnard students at the Tuesday launch of Women in the World on Campus.

Dr. Ntaiya, an educator and founder of the Kakenya Center for Excellence who came from a small village in Kenya to attend college in America, extended an invitation to the students to come visit Kenya, work at the school, and meet the young girls she educates at her boarding school. She’s one of the many extraordinary women leaders with whom students will be able to apprentice through the Women in the World on Campus initiative.

Women in the World on Campus will connect young women to the wider Women in the World community: the women we’ve honored at our annual Summits, profiled in our stories, and who are passionate about solutions. At Women in the World, we know that the next generation of women leaders cares deeply about finding the solutions to the most challenging issues facing women and girls, and our on-campus initiative will offer opportunities to help them develop as leaders and as citizens.

Last week, Women in the World on Campus launched at Barnard, Harvard and Rutgers. The launch events featured Dr. Ntaiya in conversation with Louise Roug, Foreign Editor for Newsweek/The Daily Beast. Dr. Ntaiya inspired all those present with her story of winning a scholarship to study in America, and fulfilling her promise to her community by opening a girls’ school and community center in her village. Women in the World Foundation President Kim Azzarelli welcomed students at Barnard, and told them about the exciting opportunities that will soon be open to them.

To begin, Women in the World on Campus wants students who are excited about helping women and girls to spread the word. Interested students can become Women in the World ambassadors, and spread the word among their friends and peers about the incredible solutions to advance women and girls happening right now, all over the world [link to map]. We want to hear about your favorite organizations, and who’s doing great work on women’s issues on campus. You’ll soon be able to submit campus-specific solutions to our ever-growing database of solutions.

Women in the World on Campus will also feature contributions from students so we can hear, in your own words, about the solutions you’re seeing on campus and beyond. And students already working at organizations dedicated to women and girls can apply to apprentice with key women leaders in their field, and see firsthand how they tackle problems and find solutions.

Bunge Okeyo, a Barnard junior who attended the Summit in March, is passionate about urban housing and education issues, and is looking at the link between residential segregation and the quality of public schools. She learned a valuable lesson in leadership from Dr. Ntaiya, who said she had broken ground on the girls’ school without so much as a dollar in her bank account.

“There never will be a good time to start something, so if you’re going to do it, do it,” said Ms. Okeyo. “And trust that it will work out, because you have the passion and the drive.”

Anna Louie Sussman is a writer and editor for the Women in the World Foundation website, and a frequent contributor to major U.S. magazines and newspapers.