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AlumnIEE: A Walk Down Memory Lane Bridges Kenya, Malawi, and Washington

IEE alumna Faustine Wabwire describes how alumni from different MADM intakes find connections between them in their work and ambition.

My name is Faustine Wabwire, and I am a Kenyan national. I currently work for the Bread for the World Institute, based in Washington, DC. At the Institute, I provide leadership on policy issues, including global poverty, hunger, gender, climate change, trade, and the role of effective U.S and multilateral assistance in providing solutions. Recently, I served on the Reading Committee for President Obama's Young African Leaders Initiative ("The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders"), a programme that brings dynamic young African leaders to the U.S. for leadership training and mentoring.

The 2015 Hunger Report

Each year, the Bread for the World Institute publishes its flagship report—the Hunger Report—which provides analysis of the state of world hunger. The report frames a key policy topic which the organization uses to influence development priorities of the U.S. Congress and the White House. I recently worked with Institute staff to produce the 2015 Hunger Report— When Women Flourish, We Can End Hunger... It further explores why women's empowerment is essential to ending global hunger and proposes practical and achievable policy changes to improve women's economic, political, and social status.
Faustine Wabwire with Members of Congress
Faustine Wabwire with Members of U.S. Congress (photo: private)

As we all know, 2015 is a significant year in the history, as well as the future of global development. For example, September 2015 will mark the sunset of the Millennium Development Goals, and usher in a more ambitious post-2015 development agenda. We also know that gender equality and the economic empowerment of women are preconditions for overcoming poverty, hunger, and malnutrition. Although it is true that the lives of girls and women have changed dramatically over the past 50 years, the progress towards gender equality has been limited in many areas—even in developed countries. This is why Bread for the World recommends that women's economic empowerment should be given priority in the post-2015 development agenda. Additionally, on June 7-8, 2015, German Chancellor Angela Merkel will host the 2015 G7 summit. It is exciting to know that the 2015 G7 agenda includes "empowering self-employed women and women in vocational training."

Seeing a connection with another alumna

As I look back at how my career in development policy has shaped up, I am aware of critical moments that inspire my contribution to the global development agenda. For example, November 26, 2013, was a very special day for me. I was aboard a flight from Washington DC, to Cape Town—6 years after I graduated from the double MADM Programme there. I had received an invitation from the German South Africa Centre for Development Research, the School of Government, Institute of Social Development both from the University of the Western Cape (UWC), and the IEE from Ruhr-University Bochum, to participate in a Career Fair at the UWC. As an alumna, I was invited to share my story of my career in development, and how my work as Senior Foreign Assistance Policy Analyst at Bread for the World contributes to global development goals. This opportunity was not only useful for the MADM graduating class of 2013, with whom I had the opportunity to exchange ideas; it also afforded me the opportunity to re-live the great memories of the two great institutions that fundamentally impacted my career path. Finally, and very importantly, the invitation offered me the opportunity to establish new connections with fellow IEE alumni. This is where I met Ms. Patience Chifundo Chilera, from Malawi. She shared her deep passion for development, especially the need for equal opportunities for all people in society, particularly marginalized women.
In early 2014, my colleagues and I embarked on the design process for the 2015 Hunger Report. During this time, I thought even more about the conversations I had had with my fellow alumna Patience, at the UWC Career Fair. Patience had struck me as a dynamic, visionary, young leader who was passionate about women's economic empowerment. By the time I met her in 2013, she had worked with the Young Politicians Union (YPU), an organization of people from her own generation, equally as passionate as she is, that invigorates political debate in Malawi. Based on this, I strongly believed that Patience's experiences and voices like those of the YPU were needed among policy making circles, including in Washington DC and beyond.

The Power of Networking

Between March-April 2014, my colleague Todd Post and I traveled to Malawi to learn from the experiences of individuals and communities who are dedicated to global development issues. We had the opportunity to meet with Patience and other members of the YPU, as well as many other experts on the issues of importance to our Hunger Report. The insights from Patience and fellow young leaders in Malawi formed a strong argument in Chapter 3 of the Institute's Report—Collective Voice: Reaching Critical Mass for Women's Empowerment.
Faustine and Patience in Malawi
Faustine Wabwire and Patience Chifundo Chilera meet with others in Malawi (photo: private)
This is the power of networking! As I stated earlier, the Hunger Report is a crucial tool that Bread for the World uses to influence U.S. policy makers. Since its launch on November 26, 2014, I have shared its findings with key policy shapers, including several U.S. members of Congress, and the African Union Mission in Washington.
Little did I know that my invitation to the 2013 Career Fair at UWC would bring to life such vital connections—(IEE alumni Chifundo Patience from Malawi, and myself from Kenya, based in Washington), to influence U.S. government policy making in Washington and around the world.

Faustine Wabwire
Faustine Wabwire

Senior Foreign Assistance Policy Analyst
Bread for the World Institute, Washington, DC.


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