Media Release: NWI Independent Review Report Released

Repair and new governance key priorities in transforming global organization committed to peace, justice, and equality through feminist action.

(Ottawa, August 12, 2021) – Today, Nobel Women’s Initiative (NWI) released an independent, external review of its operations and announced the appointment of an Interim Board to help lead the transformation of NWI into an organization that provides a safe and inclusive space for meaningful action and collaboration. 

“In creating the organization, we did not explore structures beyond the hierarchical systems we had been exposed to which led to a growing gap between the core values carried out in our external work and that inside the office. We did not recognize the negative impact and resulting harm, particularly on staff.  We should have acted sooner, and we failed to hear and appropriately respond to those who reached out and for all of that, we are profoundly sorry,” said Leymah Gbowee and Jody Williams, former Co-Chairs of the Board of Nobel Women’s Initiative in a statement.

In December 2020, NWI commissioned an independent external review by Community Resource Exchange (CRE) following the public resignation of five staff and two consultants.

NWI recognizes that nothing short of transformational change must occur. We are implementing a new governance and leadership structure, with appointment of an Interim Board to lead the change process.

The members of the Interim Board were selected because they are leaders in peace, justice, equality and organizational change, and also because they are recognized as agents of change. They are:

Aruna Rao, Chair Interim Board NWI – Aruna Rao is the founder and former Executive Director of Gender at Work. She is a globally recognized gender equality expert and author with over 40 years’ experience in pioneering new approaches to gender and institutional change. She holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University, New York, in Education.

Roberta Clarke, Member Interim Board NWI – Roberta Clarke is an activist for social justice and gender equality. She is the Chair, Executive Committee, International Commission of Jurists, Chair, Coalition against Domestic Violence, Trinidad and Tobago and former head of UN Women Offices in East and Southern Africa, Libya Programme, the Asia Pacific region and the Caribbean. She is lawyer and extensively engaged in civil society.

Sarah Jewell, Member Interim Board NWI – Sarah Jewell is the Executive Director of the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa-USA. The Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa was established in 2012 by Liberian peace activist and Nobel peace laureate Leymah Gbowee.

Dildar Kaya, Member Interim Board NWI – Dildar Kaya is a Senior Program Officer at the SEED Foundation in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Passionate about promoting mental health and women’s rights, she is a One Young World Ambassador, a fellow of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom and a fellow for young minority leaders at Johns Hopkins Universities American Institute for Contemporary German Studies.

“We are saddened and sorry for the harm and pain described in the findings of CRE’s independent external review. Our work as an independent governing body begins today and our first priority is repair,” said the Interim Board in a joint statement.

“The findings and recommendations contained in the external report will guide our decision making. At the top of our agenda will be the establishment of a new governance model that recentres the power base of the organization in its people, bringing onboard new leadership, and beginning to chart a new feminist vision, policies and systems for the organization. We will aim to cultivate an internal culture that does the same.

As women committed to peace, justice, equality and organizational change, our belief in the core values of Nobel Women’s Initiative is unwavering. We pledge to carry out this work with humility and transparency, and in collaboration with key partners and stakeholders,” the Interim Board added.

These efforts build on the January 2021 appointment of feminist and disability rights activist Tania Principe as Interim ED with a mandate to manage the organizational transition and renewal, while also coordinating our ongoing program work with staff, partners, and donors.

The laureates have pledged their ongoing support to the organization, and its values. The Interim Board will report in six months on their collective reflecting, learning and re-imagining of NWI.

For more information contact: [email protected]