What We Do:

Programs and Activities of the Council of Women World Leaders

Empowering Women Around the World


Programs and Activities of the Council of Women World Leaders


    •The Council’s Spotlight on Leadership Series provides a platform for Council members to participate in high-level summits, discuss their policy agendas, and raise global issues of critical importance to women.
    •The Business Case for Women Initiative creates a forum to discuss and promote the leading research and action on increasing the number of women leaders in business.
    • The Madeleine K. Albright Women’s Voices at the Aspen Institute Series (2008 – 2011) offered internationally acclaimed experts a forum to address gender dimensions of timely issues and provide a catalyst for future action.

Past Events


On November 29, 2017, H.E. Dalia Grybauskaitė, the President of Lithuania and Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders (CWWL) held the largest meeting of women Presidents and Prime Ministers in CWWL's history during the Women Political Leaders (WPL) Annual Global Summit in Reykjavik, Iceland. 

President of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaitė, President of Malta, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, President of Croatia, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, President of Estonia, Kersti Kaljulaid, Former President of Iceland, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, Former Prime Minister of Canada, Kim Campbell, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark, Former Premier of Bermuda, Paula Cox, Former President of Kosovo, Atifete Jahjaga,  Former Prime Minister of Finland, Mari Kiviniemi, Former Prime Minister of Netherlands Antilles, Maria Liberia-Peters, Former Prime Minister of Slovakia, Iveta Radičová, Former Premier of Bermuda, Jennifer Smith, Former Prime Minister of Senegal, Aminata Touré, and CWWL Secretary General, Laura Liswood met to discuss Council’s activities and to honor the world’s first democratically elected woman President and co-founder of the CWWL, former President of Iceland, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir.

The Council of Women World Leaders called upon governments, civil society, and organizations around the world to redouble their efforts and political will to value women as leaders and to encourage women to take part in the political process. Women must be at the heart of decision-making on all issues and in all sectors and at the table.


In the wake of many political challenges facing the world today, such as migration, terrorism, climate change, inequality, and new technologies, 28 women leaders from 17 countries gathered at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center in July 2017 for the Women’s Leadership Forum. The Women's Leadership Forum, under the leadership of Pat Mitchell, was organized by the Rockefeller Foundation, in partnership with the Council of Women World Leaders, the Skoll Foundation, the Carter Center, and Apolitico. The objective of this forum was to bring women leaders from across different countries, backgrounds, and departments, many of whom are tackling the same complex problems, in order to offer new approaches to problem-solving and to collaborate across silos to confront global challenges. Council members former President of Malawi, Joyce Banda and former President of Kosovo, Atifete Jahjaga were present at the Forum, with the Council's Secretary General, Laura Liswood. 

Together these women leaders developed the “Way Forward Framework” which includes high-level decisions and three concrete categories of recommendations. In addition, they worked to answer the question “What is transformative women’s leadership and how can it be harnessed throughout politics and policy to find better solutions to today’s global challenges” and came up with seven transformative leadership qualities.


In June 2017, Council members President of the Marshall Islands, Hilda Heine, and Former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Dame Jenny Shipley attended the inaugural “Women Fast Forward” Asia-Pacific consultation dialogue at the East-West Center in Honolulu. This event brought together current and former heads of state, government officials, academic experts, and business and civil society leaders. Together these participants released a communiqué of policy recommendations to help the G20 address several of the most pressing areas on ongoing disparity in women’s economic status throughout the Asia-Pacific region and the world. These recommendations are based around five key aspects of women’s economic empowerment: legislative barriers, women in leadership, financial inclusion, digital inclusion, and women in supply chains. Council Secretary General, Laura Liswood, also participated in the dialogue.
A draft of the recommendations was communicated via Canada’s delegation to the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, and a final version will help inform the Women 20’s formal input into the 2018 G20 summit in Argentina. Dame Jenny Shipley, stated, “Integrating W20 recommendation into the G20 is both a huge opportunity and a massive challenge. Women confront these questions in the context of the G20 is a breakthrough.”


On May 10th, Secretary General, Laura Liswood, participated in the 50/50 Day, a global day of thousands of events around the world that use film, discussion materials, and their global Q&A to have a worldwide conversation about how to get to a more gender equitable world. The centerpiece of the 50/50 Day was the Tiffany Schlain 20 minute film, 50/50: Rethinking the Past, Present, and Future of Women + Power, inspired by Laura Liswood’s work and her co-founding of the Council of Women World Leaders.


The afternoon following Election Day 2016, Secretary General Laura Liswood held a discussion with United Nations Foundation staff members about women leadership. Ms. Liswood said, “While it is disappointing that the United States did not elect a woman president, it is important to continue the discussion on electing female leaders and raise our voices about supporting women’s full participation and representation in the political process.”


During the 2016 United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the Council of Women World Leaders sponsored a high-level discussion on the Economic Cost of Violence against Women. The event was co-hosted by Council members Dalia Grybauskaitė, President of the Republic of Lithuania, and Michelle Bachelet Jeria, President of the Republic of Chile. In addition, Council members Tarja Halonen, Former President of Finland, Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, President of the Republic of Malta, Paula Cox, Former Premier of Bermuda, and Roza Otunbayeva, Former President of Kyrgyzstan participated in the discussion. The meeting addressed the economic impact of violence against women and convened gender experts, women leaders, and executives of prominent organizations to share good practices on how measures aimed at combating violence against women could result in the reduction of public expenditures and allow their use for sustainable development.                                                                                                                                                                      

The participating government and international organizations included the World Health Organization, World Bank Group, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Commonwealth, La Francophonie, European Commission, and Women in Parliaments Global Forum (WIP). The Council of Women World Leaders commits to educating and working alongside female leaders and other gender-equality focused organizations to promote the importance of creating a roadmap. If a feasible outline is developed, we can translate it into plan that can help eradicate the violence against women. The participating groups of the discussion must work together to coordinate and leverage resources.


The Council of Women World Leaders and the Women in Parliaments Global Forum hosted a Women Political Leaders Breakfast during the 2017 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. One of CWWL's newest members, Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, President of Mauritius, participated in the event. An off the record session, many of the leaders at the breakfast shared their experience of often being the first woman in the high offices they held.


In May 2016, the Council of Women World Leaders met in Amman, Jordan. The Council co-convened a Global Summit with Women in Parliament (WIP) that was hosted by the Plenary of the Jordanian Parliament in Amman. This conference was history in the making as it was the first time over 100 Female Parliamentarians and many Council Members were brought together with a focus on the MENA region.

Main Goals of the Summit

    •Examine at the political leadership in the MENA region.
    •Develop a set of practices that assist in integrating refugees and migrants into receiving countries.


    •Mrs. Dalia Grybauskaitė, President of the Republic of Lithuania, Chair for CWWL
    •Mrs. Laura Liswood, Secretary General for CWWL
    •Mrs. Paula Cox, Prime Minister of Bermuda
    •Mrs. Tarja Halonen, President of Finland
    •Mrs. Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, President of Malta

Since 2005, the Council of Women World Leaders has maintained a strong relationship with the World Economic Forum (WEF) through participating in the Women Leaders Advisory Board, the Gender Parity Program, the Global Agenda Council for Women’s Empowerment, and the Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

In 2009, Council members convened in Monrovia, Liberia, for the International Colloquium on Women’s Empowerment, Leadership Development, International Peace and Security. Six members of the Council co-sponsored an appeal to the Government of Sudan and the United Nations to reinstate the licenses of humanitarian agencies providing critical assistance to individuals displaced by war in Darfur.

In 2010, the Council held a panel discussion in partnership with the Community of Democracies titled Women as a Critical Force in Democratic Governance at United Nations headquarters in New York City. The dialogue focused on the essential role women play in the democracy-building process. Panelists included President Michelle Bachelet, Prime Minister Sϋkhbaataryn Batbold, Prime Minister Helen Clark, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President Roza Otunbayeva, Prime Minister Emily de Jongh-Elhage, and the co-hosts of the event, President Tarja Halonen, and President Dalia Grybauskaitė.


In October 2010, the Council co-organized “Closing the Gender Gap: The Business Case for Organizations, Politics, and Society Conference” in collaboration with the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Women and Public Policy Program and the World Economic Forum.

The Council and its partners brought together 150 top academics, politicians, and business leaders to engage in a critical discussion of the current research available on why women must be fully engaged at all levels in business and politics. The Council has compiled a thorough research compendium on this subject, which is continually updated and distributed through the Council’s Business Case for Women Initiative.


The Madeleine K. Albright Women’s Voices hosted global leaders and internationally acclaimed experts to discuss and debate policy issues, with an emphasis on the gender dimension of each issue, and suggested future actions for change.


In 2010, the Council introduced its Environmental Policy Graduate Fellowship Program linking Ministries of Environment and international environmental organizations in developed and developing countries with promising leaders from top tier environmental graduate programs in the United States.

Placement Sites have included:

Gender and Public Policy

    •The F.W. de Klerk Foundation, South Africa
    •The Club of Madrid, Spain
    •CWWL, Washington, DC
    •The World Economic Forum, Switzerland
    •The Angie Brooks International Center, Liberia
    •UNICEF, New York
    •NY Ministry of Human Services & Social Security, Guyana
    •Office of the Deputy Speaker of the Croatian Parliament- Jadranka Kosor
    •UN Women, New York, NY Albright
    •Stonebridge Group, Washington, DC
    •Office of the Federal Ministry for Family, Senior Citizens, Women, and Youth, Germany
    •Office of the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago

Environmental Policy

    •European Environment Agency, Denmark
    •Ministry of the Environment, Ecuador
    •Ministry of the Environment, Panama
    •Ministry of the Environment, Iceland
    •United Nations Development Programme, New York
    •USA United Nations Environment Programme, Kenya
    •Office of the Swiss Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy, and Communications, Switzerland
    •Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Switzerland

Public Health Policy

    •Federal Ministry of Health, Germany
    •World Health Organization, Department of Public Health and Environment Gender Focal Point, Switzerland
    •PAHO- Gender Equity division; External Relations
    •Aspen Global Health and Development
    •World Health Organization, Department of Reproductive Health and Research, Switzerland
    •Ministry of Health, Kiribati
    •Ministry of Health, Mongolia
    •Ministry of Health and Prevention, Senegal
    •Ministry of Health, Samoa
    •Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Liberia
    •Ministerial Leadership Initiative for Global Health, Washington DC
    •United Nations Office of the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, New York, NY
    •National Institute for Health and Welfare, Finland
    •Pan-American Health Organization, Washington, DC
    •World Economic Forum, New York, NY
    •Aspen Global Health Initiative, Washington, DC
    •Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves at the UN Foundation, Washington, DC