Global fellowship program launched to challenge conventional definitions of strength by collaborating with extraordinary women who run initiatives focused on driving social change.
Pond’s, a global skincare leader, joins hands with Vital Voices Global Partnership to launch a recurring 21-month fellowship program designed to empower women leaders around the world who have a bold vision for change. The first intake of this program – named VVLead Fellowship, a partnership between Pond’s and Vital Voices – will connect, provide training for, and give visibility to 50 extraordinary women who lead mission-driven companies and organizations from around the globe.
Inspired by the world-renowned Athena Doctrine , Pond’s commissioned a global study in 2016 to explore current attitudes and perceptions towards traditional feminine values such as empathy, connectedness, and openness around the world – and how an increasingly harsh world is felt to be impacting the way people behave. 73% of people worry about the growing threat, intolerance, and disconnectedness of people across the world, driving a universal desire for a display of more feminine values. 92% acknowledge that displaying these qualities would make the world a more beautiful place, yet 76% of people fear showing these values.
Challenging the conventional definitions of strength
“With the findings from our global study, we wanted to challenge conventional definitions of strength and were moved to collaborate with Vital Voices. Women have been operating within an environment where masculine leadership traits such as aggression and competitiveness have been enforced. Pond’s believes a different kind of strength is needed to achieve results in today’s world.
"Not the typical forceful and confrontational strength, but a strength that sees a person actively choosing to work with, never against, the realities,” said Arnaud De Fontgalland, Global Vice President, Pond’s, Unilever, while hosting a summit in South Africa to kick-off the partnership and program. “We are proud to kickstart our social mission, and by 2020, our aim is to champion 1 million women to use a different kind of strength as a force for good, to achieve a more positive tomorrow.”
The VVLead Fellowship, a partnership between Pond’s and Vital Voices, will provide leadership skills based on the Vital Voices Leadership Model and customized curriculums. Fellows are inducted into a global community of Vital Voices members, with a shared passion for making an impact on society. All Fellows will be immersed in webinars, forum discussions, in-person summits, and virtual mentorship to kickstart and grow their initiatives in addressing social, human rights and environmental challenges at community, national, and global levels.
“Our partnership with Pond’s is truly unique. The program is built around a proprietary module developed by Pond’s and informed by two decades of learned principles from the thousands of women in the Vital Voices Global Leadership Network. Paired together, this ground-breaking Fellowship will introduce a framework highlighting the strength of leaders who engage others and fundamentally shift culture,” said Alyse Nelson, President and CEO, Vital Voices. “We are excited to debut this program with the Fellows, prominent women leaders from around the globe with the vision and determination to challenge the status quo through their work.”
The Fellowship will include Ambassadors – established changemakers serving as role models in creating transformative societal change. For this intake of the program, the six Ambassadors are Samar MinallahKhan, an anthropologist & documentary filmmaker from Pakistan; Anne Githuku-Shongwe, founder of AFROES Transformational Games and Representative at UN WOMEN in South Africa; Jamira Burley, a youth & community impact strategist from the USA; Saskia Nino de Rivera, founder & president of Reinserta Un Mexicano A.C, Mexico; Kiran Sethi, founder & educator, Riverside School, India, and Design for Change Global; Devi Asmarani, co-founder of Magdalene Magazine.
“The VVLead Fellowship, a partnership between Pond’s and Vital Voices, is an amazing platform to build powerful professional relationships and collaborations with like-minded women,” said VVLead Ambassador Anne Githuku-Shongwe. “As Fellows hone their visions, skills, and tools to be more effective leaders, I hope we can collectively spread the transformational power of women and pay it forward.”
“The partnership is important to us as we believe that women can be great leaders and not have to change their innate qualities,” said Kavisha Vather, Brand Manager: Face Care at Unilever South Africa.
1John Gerzema, M.D (2013). The Athena Doctrine: How Women (and the Men Who Think Like Them) Will Rule the Future. John Wiley & Sons
2Edelman Intelligence, 2016. The Truth About Feminine Values in a Hardening World: A Global Study