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Leadership for Systemic Change – Project updates

  • Post category:IWSO Projects
  • Reading time:5 mins read

The Leadership for Systemic project is currently in its planning phases. Here are some of the activities in progress.

Project Launch

On March 8, 2022,  IWSO officially launched the Leadership for Systemic Change project with a two-hour online event- Creating the Next Generation of Diverse Women Leaders from 3 to 5 pm EST. This event was based on the Government of Canada’s theme for International Women’s Day–“Women Inspiring Women.” At the event, IWSO highlighted the leadership experiences of racialized and immigrant women and their impact on communities/regions and future generations through videos and a keynote speech. The event also encouraged the engagement of leadership experiences among participants in focus group styles, which informed the project’s Needs Assessment.

“It was a grand launch to the start of the project. The event promoted the project, and we also gathered data through our focus group breakout rooms that would feed into our project activities, said Brenda Abokhai, Project Manager, Leadership for Systemic Change.

Needs Assessment

IWSO is currently conducting activities to develop the project’s Needs Assessment.

Literature Review

The scoping review identified the barriers, strategies and benefits of immigrant and racialized women leaders across all sectors in Canada on a societal (macro), organizational (meso) and individual (micro) level.  The review helped identify diverse women leaders’ challenges, strategies, and benefits. But the focus group research, survey and key informants’ interview will be vital to understanding individual barriers and needs and how they can inform the subsequent phases of the project.

Focus Group research

The focus groups from the IWSO’s event- Creating the Next Generation of Diverse Women Leaders, discussed the individual barriers and strategies toward leadership opportunities in Canada and the benefits of increased representation in communities. Findings from the groups reflected how layered the unique challenges are towards leadership. Participants identified strategies for eliminating some of those barriers. Such include networking, training, mentoring, strategizing, and focusing on self-confidence. Participants also highlighted the importance of increasing diverse women leaders’ representation, incorporating lived experiences, adding varied services/programs, promoting diversity, breaking stereotypes, being role models and informing policy. These findings from this research and the other needs assessments will inform the following stages of the Leadership for Systemic Change project.


To complement the focus group research, IWSO further solicited input from immigrant and racialized women on the barriers and strategies to address leadership underrepresentation. The submission invitation was available from April 20, 2022, to May 11, 2022. IWSO will incorporate the results from the study into the Needs Assessment report.

Key informant interviews

IWSO is presently conducting interviews with organizations that work with immigrant and racialized women for recommendations on leadership-building activities. Discussions with the organizations also offer a chance to promote the project to organizations and solicit support and collaboration on the leadership-building activities. Once completed, a summary of the recommendations will be available in the Needs Assessment report.

Additional Staff

IWSO is currently hiring for two positions under the Leadership for Systemic Change project.

Interviews are ongoing for the Project Officer position. The Project Officer will assist the Manager in the project’s planning stage.

Calls for a consultant to develop an evaluation plan and create evaluation documents and reports are underway.

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