As related by the Mentors and Mentees of the SAYWLM initiative
Edited by Lavanya Mehra
Feminist leadership is essential for transformation at the individual level, as well as organizations and movements, and has been one of CREA’s core strategies since its inception. However, translating feminist leadership from concept to practice is a challenging task. The work of undoing and rebuilding systemic and internalized models of power and leadership requires structured and ongoing support — namely, feminist mentoring.
In 2016, CREA and Global Fund for Women designed the SAYWLM (South Asia Young Women’s Leadership and Mentoring) initiative to build a cadre of young feminist leaders and movement builders through a process of systematic mentoring. This initiative’s theory and practice of feminist mentoring breaks traditional models of mentoring that often do not interrogate patriarchal power structures — including in the mentoring relationship itself — and pioneered a model that centers and performs feminist values in the mentoring context. It also demonstrated the vital role that mentoring can play in strengthening feminist leadership in practice.
Based on the learning from this initiative, the three-part guide ‘Feminist Mentoring for Feminist Futures’ was developed to support others who wish to explore the feminist mentoring pathway. The guide explores the theory and practice of feminist mentoring and its impact on both Mentors and young women leaders.
Part 3 presents stories from the Mentors and Mentees who were part of the SAYWLM initiative — their challenges, triumphs, and overall experience during the mentoring journey.