UCL News


UCL hosts prestigious Chevening Fellowship programme

22 June 2005

UCL's Development Planning Unit (DPU) was selected to run a prestigious Chevening Fellowship Course on the Participation of Women.

The twelve-week course is aimed at mid-career professionals in the public and private sectors and civil society, and promotes equal opportunities for women and men in all spheres of life with a particular focus on promoting the participation of women in public life in Islamic societies.

The DPU has a long history of establishing and running programmes on this theme. In 1984, it initiated the Gender Policy and Planning Programme (GPPP), one of the many international initiatives coming out of the UN's Decade for the Advancement of Women (1974-1985). The programme was set up to deepen the understanding of gender issues in development and expand the capacity of mid-career professionals to work towards gender equality in their policies and planning.

In 2004, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the British Council established the Chevening Fellowships Programme. After a highly competitive tendering procedure, the DPU was invited to run one of the ten programmes.

The British Council nominated all the 12 participants attending the course this year, who are high-ranking mid-career women working in government agencies, non-government organisations and political structures, and hail from the Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe. Course co-director Ms Caren Levy said: "The overall aim of the course was to explore the factors that are relevant to the participation of women in decision-making structures in economic and political life. At a more practical level, it supported participants in their identification of key entry points in their own work for promoting the equal participation of women and men in the spheres of politics and economics."

Each week, visits were made to government departments, private firms and civil society organisations that are coping with the challenges of addressing diversity in contemporary British society. Course participant Ms Nabila Al-Anjari is Assistant Under-Secretary for Tourism in Kuwait. She said: "Actually, in Kuwait there are a lot of females in the workplace and they are integrated at all levels, for example in investment and oil fields, even though they are in the minority. The only sector they are not permitted to work in is politics, but this will change in the very near future. The programme gave me a new tool for implementing and mainstreaming gender issues in any situation that I can apply to my career in tourism and my volunteering work with women. It was difficult to take three months out of the office, but it was certainly worth it." 

Since the course finished in April the laws in Kuwait concerning women's participation in politics have changed and Nabila intends to stand for parliament in the next Kuwait elections in 2007.