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Lame Olebile
Lame Olebile, pictured here at a meeting with former Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, is co-leading a "Women in Politics" workshop in Botswana with community partner Latisha Bracy. 

Women in politicis

UD Mandela Washington Fellow, presenter receive reciprocal exchange award to host training in Botswana

Early Monday morning, May 22, Latisha Bracy boarded a plane and departed for Gaborone, Botswana, where she is spending the week with Lame Olebile, a 2016 University of Delaware Mandela Washington Fellow and human rights projects coordinator at Ngamiland Council of Non-Governmental Organizations.

Thanks to a Mandela Washington Fellowship reciprocal exchange award, the two will collaborate on a special “Women in Politics” leadership training workshop. University of Botswana lecturer Sethunya T. Mosime and a local organization called the Letsema Project are also partnering to lead the event.

First connections

Bracy, now a senior public affairs specialist at IKEA North American Services LLC, has worked in the campaign and governmental offices for U.S. Sens. Tom Carper, Joe Biden and Ted Kaufman. For the last six years, she served as the director of outreach and special projects for U.S. Sen. Chris Coons. Most recently, Bracy was campaign manager for the general election for U.S. Repr. Lisa Blunt Rochester, who was elected last year as the first-ever female and African American Representative from Delaware.

Olebile and Bracy first crossed paths in UD’s Harker ISE Lab, where Bracy presented to the group, and met again later at a meeting of the Coalition of 100 Black Women. “It was inspiring to see what Tish was doing and to see how women in the Coalition of 100 Black Women were organizing to get their issues on the agenda. It made me think that there is a lot I could be doing,” Olebile reflected.

The workshop

Young women leaders from parliament and university representative councils will be invited to participate in the “Women in Politics” workshop, which will focus on leadership development, network building and running successful campaigns.

The training will begin on Thursday, May 25, with a reception aimed at connecting these young politicians with leaders of various public and non-profit sectors, including civil society organizations.

“We are looking forward to having everyone come together to discuss what the key issues are that we would like to see women in political leadership bring to the table,” said Olebile. “I think we need to influence and support each other in that way.”

Olebile and Mosime will coordinate sessions on the local political landscape and resources available to the participants. Bracy will follow with talks on campaign management, including successful communications strategy, fundraising and everything in between.

On Friday, May 26, Bracy and Olebile will team up to help each young woman develop her own personal leadership plan.

“For me, this is not only about leadership but also accountability. Sometimes we have leaders in political parties deciding who to advance to a position regardless of merit. That is part of the problem here,” remarked Olebile. “It is important for women in our political system to realize that they are leaders and that they are connected to a much wider support base than they think.”

Olebile hopes that the workshop won’t just be a one-time effort, but that the group will continue to create connections, provide resources and mentor the young political leaders. “I’d love to eventually see more women in cabinet positions,” she commented, adding that it is a priority for her to contribute to that change over time. “I want it to be a change in quality, too. Not just a change in quantity.”

Cross-cultural connections

While Bracy will co-lead the workshop this week, she’s also looking forward to the growth she will experience as a part of the program, too. “We truly live in a global society and whether you are a woman in Wilmington, Delaware, or Gaborone, Botswana we all have more in common than not. It is important that we share, encourage and inspire each other,” she said. “I am looking forward to the potential connections and partnerships that can be made from this workshop.”

About the Mandela Washington Fellowship at UD

The Mandela Washington Fellowship is the flagship program of the Young African Leader’s Initiative and is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with support from IREX. Founded in 2014, the fellowship seeks to empower young leaders from sub-Saharan Africa to continue creating change and designing innovative solutions to the continent’s most pressing challenges. The University of Delaware has been a proud host each summer since the program’s inception.

UD’s six-week Civic Leadership Institute, administered by the Institute for Global Studies with the help of partners across campus, further prepares the 25 leaders by addressing six main themes: leadership, social media and information and communication technologies (ICT), good governance, advocacy, entrepreneurship and organizational development. Fellows are also paired with a peer collaborator, leaders from local and regional non-profit organizations, and governmental agencies.

Follow along on Instagram and Twitter @UDGlobal as the 2017 UD Mandela Washington Fellows arrive for their journey in the United States in June. Engage using the hashtags #UDMWF and #YALI2017.



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