Monika Khangembam, Founder of Women and Youth for Peace and Development (WYPD), has been invited to take part in the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), a prestigious professional exchange programme being conducted by the US Department of State to foster professional ties and mutual understanding with other countries. Monika is the only participant from India, among many others from various countries, all of whom have been identified as potential leaders. They will travel to the US this week to meet their professional counterparts and visit US public and private sector organisations related to her project theme ‘Women Leaders: Promoting Peace and Security’. The women leaders will be visiting Washington, D.C., New York, Nevada and Florida as part of the programme. The 17-day programme begins on December 2.
This initiative supports the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security (2011), which calls for the empowerment of women as equal partners in preventing conflict and building peace in countries threatened and affected by war, violence, and insecurity. It addresses women’s leadership opportunities by exploring ways in which they can lead in conflict mediation and community transformation. In addition, this initiative will familiarize participants with strategies for directing positive political, social and economic change in a democratic society. Through meetings, workshops, site visits and roundtable discussions, the participants will examine essential leadership skills needed to balance divergent social demands and interests when confronting political, social, and economic challenges
“I believe the IVLP will be a wonderful opportunity to observe how women leaders and organisations in the United States actively engages in mediating conflicts and disputes arising from political, socio-economic, ethnic, religious, and regional differences. It will also be a great opportunity to meet experts, women leaders and build meaningful networks that I am sure will help me serve my community better,” said Monika. According to Monika, her organisation’s goal is to make the women of her conflict-torn state aware of their rights and also help them to become economically independent.
Currently she is working with female farmers in a remote corner of Manipur to empower them and bring them forth in the male dominated field of agriculture. The organisation also aims to get the youth of Manipur to contribute as agents of peace and reconciliation. Monika has worked on issues like human rights and AFSPA, racial discrimination and has spearheaded national campaigns. She is currently also the vice curator of Global Shapers Imphal Hub, an initiative by World Economic Forum. She was also the only Manipuri to be selected as of one of British Council Global Changemakers from Asia Pacific in 2011.
Launched in 1940, the IVLP connects current and emerging leaders around the world with their American counterparts. Participants are nominated and selected annually by the staff at U.S. Embassies around the world. The exchange brings up to 5,000 professional emerging leaders from around the world to the United States each year for programmes of up to three weeks, including more than 330 current or former chiefs of state or heads of government. Some of the notable IVLP alumni include Anwar Sadat, 11-year president of Egypt and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.