The Turkish Women's Initiative (TWI) offers an eight-month skills-based experiential "Sparks" leadership program. It is free to women of low and modest means, usually the first in their families to attend university. Ten years of Sparks programs have demonstrated that with confidence and leadership skills, young women can reach their career and life goals and make solid contributions to their professions, the economies of family and country and society.
Only 50% of university-educated Turkish women currently work outside the home. In addition, even employed women must often function well below their potential, meaning they are unable to reach the career levels and income they deserve. Turkey ranks 130th in gender gap of 149 countries. However, if both men and women participated equally in the economy, the gross national product would increase by 30%. University attendance alone is not enough; women need leadership skills to succeed.
The Sparks program promotes the principles and practices of self-discovery, career-building and leadership in a learning-by-doing environment. In the company of others with similar stories and with exposure to strong female role models, they explore who they are as modern Turkish women and what they want to accomplish. Through the social change projects they plan and implement in teams, they build skills and confidence in how to contribute as leaders in their families, careers and society.
Additional Sparks programs will provide career and leadership development for more young women. With confidence and strong leadership abilities women are in better positions to take on challenges and subsequent action to make change for the better -- for themselves and their families, their professions, the economies of family and country, and society in general. In addition to the young women we serve directly, the benefits extend to the myriad others who touch and are touched by the program.