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By fostering scholarship and cross-cultural exchange, SAIS Women Lead–a global women’s leadership development program–raises awareness of gap areas in research and advocacy to create more inclusive, compassionate, and service-oriented societies.


SAIS Women Lead's mission is to increase and amplify women’s leadership around the world to inspire balanced, sound policy decision-making. Its interdisciplinary courses and practicum program, Global Women in Leadership (GWL) (student-led organization), and SAIS Women’s Alumni Network (SWAN) provide students and alumni with opportunities to develop their leadership skills and collaborate on action-oriented projects that advance women.

These programs, courses, and networks support students, faculty and alumni to integrate the study of women’s contributions to the field of international relations and promote the understanding that women’s empowerment is central to sustainable peace, economic growth, and transformational leadership.

Featured Courses

You can follow a curricular path that focuses on inclusive leadership and women's contributions to international relations by enrolling in classes, the SAIS Women Lead Practicum course, and additional cross-disciplinary courses from a comprehensive list.


SAIS Women Lead Practicum

The SAIS Women Lead Practicum partners students with public, private, and non-governmental organizations and provides professional experiences through projects that advance women and contribute solutions to issues of global importance.

You will be part of a team of students and work with clients to produce reports, policies or programs. You will also be expected to participate in a research assignment during Winter Break (travel may be required). Upon your return, your team will proceed to analyze, interpret and present results of findings to the school's community and clients.


Gender Inequality and Development

The objectives of this seminar are broadly two-fold: first, to gain a solid understanding of the patterns and constraints of gender inequality around the world up to the present day, and second, to review and debate what we know and don’t know about what policies and programs can work to close gender gaps, with a focus on developing countries.

The course is set up around a series of major policy questions central to the gender equality agenda, and linked to international development debates around the 2030 Agenda. Following an overview session about global and regional patterns, each of the subsequent weeks will tackle a series of major policy topics in turn, concluding with an examination of major global proposals to tackle gender inequality. The course will go beyond gender inequality in the labor market to explore patterns of violence, constraints to political participation, among others. Students will be asked to work on a specific policy challenge in a developing country context, applying and developing the findings discussed in class and in the readings.


Microeconomics of Development

The objective of this course is to analyze the constraints that affect households and policy makers in developing countries and to understand the empirical tools and techniques economists use to analyze these constraints.

The understanding of microeconomic foundations of several development problems will be used to discuss policy choices and outcomes in different contexts. The course will rely on empirical and theoretical microeconomic studies to analyze behavior under different types of market failures and to evaluate the impacts of policy interventions.


Anthropology for Strategists

What relevance does anthropology have for the formulation and execution of national security strategy? This course acquaints students who have a background in strategic studies with anthropological concepts and modes of thinking.

You will learn how to map a social system, identify how power is apportioned within a society, interpret the system of communicative symbols that transmit meaning within a culture, appreciate how and why adversaries fight, identify how cultural forms express and transmit meaning and evaluate social change. The course uses a series of case studies to examine how culture affects warfare and the effect of warfare on culture.

Learn from the Best

Study with world-class experts who are renowned for their scholarship, influence, and networks.

Chiedo Nwankwor

Vice Dean for Education and Academic Affairs, Senior Lecturer and Director of SAIS Women Lead

Ritam Chaurey

Assistant Professor of International Economics

Build Your Network

Join an influential alumni network of more than 20,000 Johns Hopkins SAIS professionals working across sectors in 140 countries around the world.

Students discuss gender based violence prevention in Nepal.

SAIS Women Lead students expand their education outside the classroom through a research trip to Nepal to examine gender-based violence (GBV).

SAIS Women Lead students giving a presentation

The SAIS Women Lead Practicum Program collaborates with government, corporate, and nongovernmental organizations to provide students with professional experience through action oriented research projects that advance women.

SAIS Women Lead panel discussion

Each year, the student-run Global Women in Leadership (GWL) hosts a conference that examines pressing topics related to women around the world.

Johns Hopkins SAIS students

Students in the Women, Peace, & Security Course took a two-day study trip to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York City as part of the SAIS Women Lead Program.

Leading with Purpose

"In SAIS Women Lead, I am delighted to find an academic component at the school focusing on advocacy and empowerment of women."

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Working To Advance Gender Equality

"I believe that one of the most important ways anyone can contribute to a particular cause is by giving that cause a voice, and GWL provides women at the school that opportunity"

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Beyond the Classroom

Women of Promise Fellowship Program

To address the demand for women’s leadership, Johns Hopkins SAIS will provide fellowships and a new curricular track for the academic study, practical training, and social capital required to develop women’s leadership potential. Our co-curricular programming offers a wealth of mentoring, networking, and skill-building so that participants gain optimal benefit from the program.

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SAIS Women's Alumni Network (SWAN)

SWAN is a key pillar of the broader SAIS Women Lead (SWL) initiative that brings together alumni, students, faculty, policymakers, and market experts to promote women in leadership.

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Women Who Inspire Lecture Series

The lecture series hosted by SAIS Women Lead features conversations using the power of example to motivate students to become pioneers in their chosen occupations.

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World-Class Events

Hear groundbreaking insights from global women in leadership. Recent discussions have explored topics including how to exercise power to effect social change, economic empowerment for women, and gender equality.

Events Calendar