Leadership development is fundamentally important to the Coalition of Muslim Women of KW. Two objectives mentioned in CMW’s mission are “to provide opportunities for personal and professional growth and leadership development for Muslim women”, and “to engage and support Muslim women to actively participate as leaders in the Muslim and larger community.”
CMW’s vision for the future also underlines the importance of leadership for Muslim women, as it envisages “a just and harmonious community where Muslim women are valued, engaged, empowered and recognized as leaders”.
To facilitate and support leadership development, CMW offered the following leadership training session:
“Speak Up, Speak Out Sisters” (October 2010): 35 local women attended this series of five workshop-style training sessions offered in partnership with the Kitchener Downtown Community Health Centre, K-W Counselling Services, The KW Record and the Kitchener Rogers Radio Group. The aim of the workshops was to enable Muslim women to actively engage in the community as decision makers and to increase their confidence in public speaking. Workshops were expertly co-facilitated by accomplished local Muslim women and women leaders from the community including the Mayor of Waterloo and the Editor-in- Chief of The Waterloo Region Record. The Workshop topics included: “Know Yourself and Speak
with Confidence”, “Know Your Community”, “Communications and Conflict Resolution” and “Public Relations”.
“Emerging Muslim Women Leadership Training Program ” (November, 2014): The Emerging Muslim Women Leadership Training Program was offered by CMW in November, 2014. The program aimed to provide women with an opportunity to further develop leadership skills with a goal of taking on more active and established leadership roles within the Kitchener-Waterloo community, as well as within CMW.
Nineteen women completed the leadership training program consisting of four full-day sessions at the Kitchener Downtown Community Health Centre. Professional trainers and facilitators delivered the workshops covering topics like personality type and leadership, public speaking, leadership styles and leveraging personal strengths, conflict resolution, project management, and emotional intelligence in leadership.
At the celebration ceremony, each of the women spoke a few words about her experience taking the training. The feedback from the women was overwhelmingly positive. Not only did the women find the workshops beneficial but many made connections and developed relationships with one another that they planned to maintain after the training. There was a sense of community in the room that was not felt before.
The training was only the first component of the program. The women also observed “Leadership in Action” by attending two local council meetings and reflecting on their experience. A group of women attended a City of Waterloo Council meeting as a delegation and addressed Council with a brief presentation.
The last component of the program involved mentorship. The women were each paired with a mentor – an established female leader in the community – for one-to- one leadership mentorship over a period of six months.
This training program was made possible by a grant from the Kitchener-Waterloo Community Foundation and United Way of Kitchener-Waterloo, with support from KW Counselling Services and the Kitchener Downtown Community Health Centre.