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The Council of Women World Leaders is a network of current and former women presidents and prime ministers. Mary Robinson, President of Ireland (1990-97) and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997-2002) is the current Chair of the Council which has 36 members.
The Council's Women's Ministerial Initiative, led by Madeleine K. Albright, Secretary of State, USA, (1996-2001) is dedicated to advancing democracy, gender equality and excellence in governance throughout the world by promoting ministerial level exchange on global issues, developing cross-ministerial solutions to issues, providing a platform for women leaders, increasing their visibility both nationally and internationally, and identifying and addressing the particular challenges facing women in ministerial leadership positions.
The Council first convened in the fall of 1997 as an outgrowth of the Women's Leadership Project in which Laura Liswood interviewed and documented, in video and book form, discussions with 15 current and former women heads of state and government. After an initial meeting with many of the leaders in Stockholm in 1996, the Council was formed. President Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, President of Iceland (1980-1996) agreed to become the Chair, and the Council established its secretariat at the John F. Kennedy School of Government and Harvard University where it resided until 2004. The Council's secretariat is now housed at the Aspen Institute in Washington, DC as an independent, international organization.