Co-sponsored by Smith College and the U.S. Department of State, with the support of the French government and the European Parliament, the event will bring together emerging leaders from francophone Africa, France and greater Europe with experts in public service, global health and women’s education.

NORTHAMPTON, Mass.—Under the aegis of the Women in Public Service Project (WPSP), a joint venture of leading U.S. women’s colleges and the U.S. Department of State, Smith College will host “Women’s Leadership: Public Service and Global Health,” a four-day conference in Paris designed to give emerging public service leaders deeper understanding—and broader professional networks—around issues of infectious disease, domestic violence, nutrition and hunger, and gender disparities in access to medical treatment and resources.

The intensive four-day session, to be held Oct. 17 to 20, reflects the overall goal of WPSP: to increase the participation and influence of women in all spheres of public service. Participants will enhance their skills for attaining elected and appointed positions in the public sector while establishing networks within and outside their nations through which they can share strategies, tools and support.

psghlogos1Participants were selected from the global health arena in countries across francophone Africa and greater Europe. The location and venues of the conference acknowledge the long—and at times complex—relationship linking France and francophone Africa, as well as Smith College’s near century-long presence in France, the site of its oldest study abroad program.

Co-sponsored by Smith College and the U.S. Department of State, with the support of the European Parliament and the French government, this conference reflects the strides that France and greater Europe have made in women’s representation in government and public service.

Admission to the program was highly competitive; more than 170 applications were received for 35 delegate opportunities. More than 15 countries will be represented among the delegates, who are physicians, epidemiologists, health educators, journalists, health policy officials, women’s advocates and NGO officials.

The conference’s opening session will include an address by Nora Berra, former French Minister of Health and Member of the European Parliament. Mrs. Berra spoke at the WPSP launch at the invitation of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in December 2011. She will be joined at the opening session by Farah Pandith, Smith Class of 1990, special representative to Muslim communities, U.S. Department of State, a key figure in the development of WPSP.

Among the presenters throughout the four days will be Caroline de Haas, adviser to France’s Ministry of Women’s Affairs; Fatma Bouvet de la Maisonneuve, psychiatrist and women’s rights advocate; Saniye Gülser Corat, director of gender equality, UNESCO; Ambassador David T. Killion, U.S. Permanent Representative to UNESCO; and Denise Silber, Smith Class of 1974, international e-health consultant and recipient of the French Legion of Honor for her work in promoting the use of new technologies in health care.

During the conference, delegates will attend a reception at the U.S. Embassy in Paris as guests of Susan Tolson, Smith Class of 1984, director, AMI-American Media Group, and her husband, Ambassador Charles Rivkin.

Sessions will include keynote addresses, small group workshops, case studies and informal discussions centered on the broad topic of public service in public health. A number of sessions are open to the public.

The program will be directed by Smith professor Robert Dorit, who has published extensively on public health issues. Dorit’s expertise includes the search for narrow-spectrum antibiotics, the genetics and epidemiology of antibiotic resistance, the biology and politics of breast cancer and the interaction between urbanization and human health.

About Smith College

Founded in 1875, Smith College, located in Massachusetts, is one of the largest women’s colleges in the United States. Its graduates are found in positions of public service and leadership around the world.

About The Women in Public Service Project

Developed by a founding partnership of the U.S. Department of State and five leading women’s colleges—Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, Smith and Wellesley—the Women in Public Service Project provides vital momentum to the next generation of women leaders who will invest in their countries and communities, provide leadership for their governments and societies, and help change the way global solutions are developed. The Project is a program of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

About the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

The Wilson Center provides a strictly nonpartisan space for the worlds of policymaking and scholarship to interact. By conducting relevant and timely research and promoting dialogue from all perspectives, it works to address the critical current and emerging challenges confronting the United States and the world.

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