Leaders are often described as those whose primary role is providing guidance; however, the past few years have proved to be an eye-opener as it brought to light the different attributes necessary for a leader to possess. A more precise role of a leader is one that is compassionate, empathetic and has the ability to unite people in peaceful, as well as vehement, times with understanding. In light of this, the Human Resource Development Committee (HRDC) of the Ismaili Council for the Southern Region, in collaboration with the Ismaili Council for Thatta Shahbunder, organised a six-day leadership programme for 40 participants from Shahbunder Jamatkhanas.

WIL is aimed at polishing leadership qualities in women and equipping them with the skills required for professional conduct. The leadership programme also focuses on providing opportunities for women to serve as khidmatgars and in leadership roles in councils and Jamati institutions. Women in leadership positions are deeply rooted in our Ismaili Tariqah and have a long history dating back to the time of Fatimids. The Fatimid Dynasty, which ruled over parts of North Africa and the Middle East from 909 to 1171 CE, was known for its emphasis on education and scholarship, as well as for its inclusive and progressive policies towards women. As a result, there were many highly educated and accomplished women in the Fatimid domain who were able to attain positions of power and influence. For example, Sitt al-Mulk, daughter of Caliph-Imam al-Aziz and the sister of Caliph-Imam al-Hakim, was a highly educated woman who held various positions of authority throughout her life and served as his deputy during his reign. She was known for her intelligence, her knowledge of Arabic literature and poetry, and her skill at diplomacy and governance. She was also a patron of the arts, and she supported many scholars, poets, and musicians during her lifetime.

The sessions were based on the four core themes of foundations of the human mind, service ethics and excellence in the organisational framework, as well as networking with the leadership of the National Council. The philosophical approach that was taken into consideration while planning the activities was based on the 3G model of grow, groom and go, used to primarily develop the sustainability of human capital in institutions through rigorous training, coaching and mentoring processes. One of the participants, Dr. Maher Khowaja, stated, “These sessions were very helpful, not only because of the religious knowledge we received but also academically. We became aware of the descriptive point of view of the Ismaili Constitution.”

Two main themes covered in the sessions were foundations and leadership. Under the foundation theme, topics such as the Ismaili Constitution, council structure and Diamond Jubilee guidelines were discussed. The leadership theme included topics on leadership styles, thinking mindset and design thinking. There were also sessions on improving soft skills like communications, negotiations and conflict management, as well as event and project management. Inspiring female leaders from the Jamat were also showcased in a video presentation.

The presenters were experienced leaders from the community, including ex-chairpersons, presidents and Mukhiyani sahibat. The sessions provided a chance for participants to learn and reflect on the leaders' journeys. Commenting on the sessions, one of the participants mentioned, “These sessions were very informative for the Jamati youth. The experiences shared by the presenters gave a sense of responsibility and motivation to come forward and serve the Jamat with passion.”

These testimonials reflect the successful execution of the event and the ultimate achievement of empowering women in the Jamat. Overall, they were able to acquire new knowledge in order to follow Hazar Imam's guidance for serving the Jamat in the modern age. The initiative revealed new prospects for the women in the Jamat and taught them how to be resilient and persistent in the face of difficulties.