Eileen Alma

Director, International Centre for Women’s Leadership, Coady Institute

As Director of the International Centre for Women’s Leadership at Coady Institute, Eileen Alma focuses on advancing the leadership of persons identifying as women in political, economic, social and legal spaces, key to addressing poverty and inequalities both locally and globally. She does so by overseeing Coady Institute programs which prioritize feminist leadership principles and practices, which challenge gendered power dynamics, and which prioritize development initiatives which are determined and driven by communities themselves.

During her own life journey, Eileen has realized that while older generations give sage advice, she is increasingly turning to younger women who have new ideas, innovative practices, who are aware of their rights and their responsibilities at much younger ages than their elders.

“If I can offer up anything to women who are just getting started, it is to keep an open mind, approach everything with curiosity, and keep learning always – not for the sake of a degree or a piece of paper, but for the love of it. To know that roads become more accessible when we keep expanding into new terrain. You are capable, and you are good enough.”

Who inspires you?

“There is no way I can limit this to one woman. Every day I am inspired and when things are really tough, I remember why I do the work I do. It is because of the women who raised me, my own brave, smart daughter too, and the women who I see day in day out put others needs before their own. While our worlds might look really different, the stories of grassroots women leaders, say in Ethiopia or Kenya or peacebuilders in Cameroon, Ukraine and Myanmar, keep me grounded. The Indigenous advisors of our Circle of Abundance Indigenous program at Coady have been very significant teachers and I’ll forever be grateful to them. The women I worked with in my previous employment at IDRC were instrumental in shaping my knowledge on women’s rights. I go home realizing that the small irritations in our work lives are nothing really at the end of the day when there are so many bigger issues at stake in our world.”

To have success as women, we need to lean on and learn from one another with humility and respect, to move away from competition to collaboration and connectedness.

Eileen Alma