Arnaud Kurze, associate professor of Justice Studies, is the recipient of a Fulbright Specialist Program award to complete a project entitled “Women’s Leadership and Political Participation in Guinea” at La Guinéenne en Politique, with additional support from the United States Embassy in Conakry.
In Guinea, women are historically underrepresented in political leadership positions as well as in public administration and the private sector. Despite their proven abilities as leaders and agents of change, they face structural barriers and a lack of resources that makes it less likely for women to receive adequate training and resources to become effective leaders.
Aware of the important and influential role they can play within political structures, women of the Guinean political parties established the Guinean Women in Politics (LGP) association. Kurze’s project, in collaboration with LGP, is focused on the development and facilitation of workshops aimed at providing women with the skills and confidence to develop and strengthen their political participation and careers.
In September, Kurze traveled to Guinea to coach a group of 25 women through exercises to build their leadership, strategic communication, conflict resolution and fundraising skills, enabling them to successfully advocate for and position themselves in decision-making bodies in leadership and in Guinean politics. Armed with these skills and the confidence gained from the workshops and networking connections, participants are poised to take steps forward for equity and gender equality for women in Guinea.
“I left Guinea with a lot of hope because we had worked hard with these dynamic young women,” Kurze says. “While the outcome of Guinea’s democratic transition remains a fragile process, laying the groundwork for a more inclusive society is an important step for the country and the region, which has been plagued by a series of recent coups.”
Though Kurze has returned to the United States, work and collaborations continue with LGP and the Embassy. Planning has begun for virtual workshops and Kurze was a guest for the inaugural episode of the Embassy’s “Conversations around Transition” podcast, which promotes the democratic transition and political participation in Guinea.
Kurze will head back to Guinea in February 2024 to continue working with LGP and women leaders, traveling to strategic locations across the country to hold additional workshops to expand the reach of the program and consolidate the initial efforts.
Kurze is one of over 400 U.S. Citizens who share their expertise with host institutions abroad through the Fulbright Specialist Program each year. Recipients of Specialist awards are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement, demonstrated leadership in their field, and their potential to foster long-term cooperation between institutions in the U.S. and abroad.