Women & Youth Leadership


Women and youth remain an important section of society and are critical agents of change and development in West Africa. These groups constitute the largest proportion of the region’s population and contribute hugely to its development despite prolonged years of marginalisation in key socio-cultural, political and economic decisions, and development policies. Lack of capacity, knowledge and skills have been given as major excuse for the marginalisation of this group of people.

As part of efforts to change this narrative in West Africa, WACSI in its new strategic vision, “…for a peaceful and prosperous West Africa where development is driven by its people”, acknowledges the critical role of all persons especially women and youth in the development and achievement of a prosperous West Africa. Thus, the Institute plans to actively engage more women and youth in its programmes and the overall implementation of its 2018-2022 strategic plan.

WACSI is committed to giving specific and deliberate support to strengthen the agency of women (including women-led organisations, women’s groups, associations or movements and individuals) and youth networks in West Africa under a dedicated strategic theme on “women and youth leadership”.

The Institute continues to forge new partnerships and strengthen existing ones with likeminded civil society organisations and development partners dedicated to advancing women’s leadership, women’s rights, and gender equality in West Africa. In addition to creating safe places for different groups of women to connect, learn, share ideas and amplify their voices on issues that affect their growth and societal development, WACSI also makes deliberate efforts to mainstream gender into all its programme conception, design and implementation using multifaceted systematic approaches.

As a civil society-centered capacity development institution, WACSI’s gender programmes cover a wide range of topical thematic areas including women’s economic and political empowerment, women’s leadership in the non-profit sector, women’s financial inclusion, advocacy against gender based violence (for example, child marriage), strengthening women’s movement and networks among others.

A central part of WACSI’s commitment in this area includes documenting history of women’s struggles, leadership and contributions to democratic governance, socio-cultural development, peace and security, and the arts in West Africa. In this context, the Institute published in 2009 a comprehensive report on “The Status of Women’s Leadership in West Africa”, and in partnership with CARE International, WACSI produced a report that showcased how women are using the Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA) to advance their financial status. The report also reviewed the ‘state of women’s financial inclusion policy in 8 West African countries’ in 2017.

In addition, WACSI runs capacity development programmes that seek to provide women across different thematic fields with basics and advanced leadership skills including a training package on influential leadership; board governance and NGO management for women’s organisations.

For over 10 years, WACSI has created tactical platforms for women in politics and civil society to convene, connect, debate and build consensus around policy decisions that affect their advancement in political leadership, electoral governance, civil society leadership among others. Between 2008 and 2013, WACSI co-established and co-convened the ‘Annual West Africa Women’s Policy Forum’ which tackled different policy challenges around women’s leadership across 5 countries in West Africa; and also championed the establishment of a regional women only election observation team known as West Africa Women’s Election Observation Team (WAWEO) in 2012. WAWEO has since been recognised by the leadership of the ECOWAS Commission and is regularly invited to join the ECOWAS election observer mission across West Africa.

WACSI continues to leverage on its networks and regional experience in working with women’s movement, coalitions and associations such as West Africa Women’s Association (WAWA), the 50:50 Women’s Group in Sierra Leone, Manu River Women’s Peace and Security Network (MAWOPNET), Network for Women’s Rights in Ghana (NETRIGHT) and WAWEO. The Institute is putting strategies in place to foster regional policy engagements with the key regional bodies including the ECOWAS Gender and Development Centre (EDGC) and Gender Directorate during the current strategy cycle.

In terms of youth leadership, WACSI’s commitment to the capacity development of the next generation of civil society actors is reechoed in its 2018-2022 strategic plan. Since 2007 the Institute has developed and delivered numerous initiatives targeted at building the knowledge, skills and capacities of young West Africans through its flagship internship programmes—the Next Generation Internship Programme. The Institute’s passion and dedication to reach out to more youths outside the civil society sector led to the expansion of the internship programme into a Next Generation Leadership Programmes which consists of 3 components-an internship, a research fellowship and a leadership capacity development initiative known as the Civil Society Leadership Institute (CSLI).

The internship programme is designed to attract young graduates yearning to gain first hand professional work experience within civil society, while the research fellowship programme offers young researchers (academia) an opportunity to document indigenous practices on civic leadership and governance in West Africa. The fellowship programme provides interactive space for young researchers to meet, engage and facilitate discussions between relevant stakeholders including decision-makers, development actors, civil society leaders and other constituents—on their research findings. During the fellowship, they are mentored by top-notch researchers who focus on development discourse peculiar to the region.

The CSLI on the other hand focuses at equipping emerging civil society leaders (specifically middle level professionals) with the requisite skills and abilities to effectively lead and influence change for enhanced performance and more sustainable social benefits. Through the Next Generation Leadership Programme, WACSI is growing a new cadre of development agents through transformational leadership and has proven to be a connecting tool across generations of civil society actors.

These initiatives are fundamental approaches towards realising the sustainability of the sector and bridging the intergenerational gap.

Read our 2023 – 2027 strategic plan here.


Fiifi is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Communications and Information Officer at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. He joined the Institute in December 2020.


Nancy is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Programme Officer in the Knowledge Management unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. She joined the Institute in January 2021.


Agnes is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Head of the Administration unit in the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2021.


Doris holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social sciences (Economics and Sociology) from the University of Cape Coast. She is passionate about impacting young lives hence co-founded Impart Foundation. A non-profit organization which seeks to empower young lives through education, technology and entrepreneurship.


Prince Akowuah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Assistant in the Translation Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.


Maxwell Apenteng is a Ghanaian and joined WACSI in September 2010. He provides gardening and janitorial services at the Institute.


George Adu-Mintah is a Ghanaian and currently the Protocol Assistant/Driver at the West Africa Civil Society (WACSI). He joined the Institute in October 2006.


Ibrahim Kwaku Gbadago is a Ghanaian. He joined the Institute in 2008 and provides janitorial services and assisting the institute's errands. Before joining the Institute, he worked at the Palestinian embassy in Accra, Ghana.


Ruth Yakana is from Cameroon and currently the Receptionist at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.


Bethel is a Ghanaian. He provides technical and IT related support to the Institute. He joined the Institute in October 2006.


Whitnay Segnonna holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Management from the University of Benin. With 2 years of experience, she has a strong knowledge of organizational and project management. Combined with her bilingualism, she is very passionate about her work. She joined WACSI as Project Assistant on Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) for the Capacity Development Unit.


Stella Yawa Wowoui holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Translation Studies. She has a perfect grasp of both French and English, as well as an intermediate level in Spanish. She is currently working as a Project Assistant on the Techsoup Project.


Kwame is an experienced IT Consultant/Software Developer. He is skilled in Web Applications Development, Digital Security, Database Management, Digital Marketing and Brand Management. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Information Technology and is a Microsoft Programme Alumni. He is currently serving as a Marketing and IT Officer on the Techsoup Project.


Grace Akpene Ziggah is a Togolese and currently the Logistics Officer and also assists in administration duties at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in June 2009.


Lilian Dafeamekpor is a Ghanaian and currently the Assistant to the Executive Director at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.


John P. Frinjuah has expertise and interests in civil society, international development, democracy and governance, conflict, crisis, and security. He has extensive experience working with civil society and international development organizations where he supported and managed research, programmes, and provided technical assistance on a variety of themes around public policy, governance, and development. He is an alumnus of the University of Ghana and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy - Tufts University in the United States, with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from two institutions respectively. John speaks English, French and several Ghanaian and regional West Africa languages.


Gervin has extensive international development experience, including 5 years of policy advocacy and capacity building of grass root organisations. He has implemented over the years a combination of agriculture value chain, livelihood, food security and governance and rights programmes.
Prior to joining WACSI, Gervin worked on two USAID projects focusing on agriculture value chain development and governance in northern Ghana
Gervin holds a master’s degree in development & Governance from the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany as well as a Masters in Global Studies from the Universities of Vienna (Austria), Leipzig (Germany) and California (Santa Barbara), USA. He is passionate social justice and inclusion.


Leandre Banon, Beninese, joined WACSI in September 2014 as Capacity Development Programme Assistant. Since then, he has worked in various units within the Institute to support operational and institutional capacity strengthening programmes for civil society in the region. Currently serving as Capacity Development Programme Officer at WACSI, his main responsibilities involve designing, planning, implementing and monitoring capacity development programmes for civil society constituents and grouping across the West Africa. Leandre is a certified Change the Game Academy Programme Trainer. His background lies in the areas of economics and development planning.


Samuel Appiah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Officer in the Finance and Administrative Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in May, 2016.


Jimm Chick Fomunjong, Cameroonian, joined WACSI in May 2018 as the Head of the Knowledge Management and Communication Units of the Institute. He has over ten years’ experience as a journalist and a development communications expert. He has a vast experience in supporting African organisations to strengthen their internal and external communications, building and sustaining relationships with the media and, leveraging on the power of social media to promote their mission. He is also excellent at supporting organisations to set up and operationalise functional communications and knowledge management systems. He has a deep passion and expertise in supporting Africans and African civil society organisations to document their praxis, share and learn from experiences documented from the African civil society sector.


Franck Sombo is a development practitioner with the drive to lead self and others to influence productivity and efficiency. His work involves supporting organisations to develop strategic plans, design monitoring and evaluation systems, develop and use relevant performance measurement tools to track progress, assess organizational growth and institutionalise learning. Franck has eight years of experience working with WACSI where he currently serves as the Head, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning. His academic qualifications include Masters in Organisations’ and Projects’ Management, and in Business Sciences and a High National Diploma in Finance and Accounting.

Franck is a Fellow of the International Program for Development Evaluation Training (IPDET) and a graduate of the Graduate Training Institute (GTI) - Ghana with specialization in Strategic Management and Corporate Leadership. He has a rich experience in Project Management, Capacity Development, Strategic planning, Data Analytics, Monitoring and Evaluation, Training and Facilitation, Mentoring and Coaching among others.


Omolara is a development practitioner and advocacy strategist with over 15 years of progressive experience in development programming targeted at strengthening civil society in West Africa.

She joined WACSI in November 2009 as a Regional Advocacy Consultant and later became the first Policy Advocacy Officer of the Institute in 2010.

She was promoted to Head of the Policy Influencing and Advocacy (PIA) Unit in 2015. As the Head of the PIA unit, Omolara offers strategic direction to the Institutes’ ambitions to connect and convene groups of organised and organic civil society actors; and influence regional and global discourses on crosscutting policy issues including—civil society regulations, sustainable development goals, civic space and enabling environment, aid effectiveness, gender equality, and civil society accountability.

Previously, Omolara served as a Programmes Associate with the Women in Peace and Security Network-Africa (WIPSEN-Africa), where she worked with her team to design and implement pan-African programmes on—multidimensional peace support operations and gender mainstreaming in security sector reform in Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.

She also served as a Service Development Marshal at TVQ Consulting Group, a customer service firm focused on designing strategic customer relationship and business growth plans for private and public financial institutions in Nigeria.

Omolara is a social justice advocate, a network weaver, and a convener. She has a postgraduate degree in Peace and Conflict Studies; a degree in International Relations and History, from the University of Ibadan and Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria respectively.

She also holds executive certificates in Behavioral Science in Public Policy from Harvard University Executive Education in Cambridge and in Citizen Advocacy from the Coady International Institute, St Francis Xavier University in Canada.


Kwabena Kroduah is a Ghanaian and currently heads the Finance Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in January 2008.


Charles currently serves as the Head of the Capacity Development Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). Charles has over 10 years of experience working in international development and social justice issues in Africa. Charles has expertise in strengthening civil society and public agencies including the design and implementation of governance and leadership programmes, development of knowledge pieces and policy advice. Charles was the founding Board Chair of Innovation for Change (i4C)-Hub Afrique, as well as the founding member of the International Consortium on Closing Civic Space (iCon), an initiative of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC. Charles currently serves as the Member of the Governing Board (Coordination Collective) of Africans Rising. He is a Member of the Development Studies Association, United Kingdom. Charles is a 2017 Stanford University Fellow for Nonprofit Leaders and a certified Change the Game Resource Mobilisation Trainer.


Nana Afadzinu is a Ghanaian and currently serves as the Executive Director of the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2010.