Based at Rutgers University, in the School of Arts and Sciences, the Center for Women's Global Leadership (CWGL) was founded by feminist activist Charlotte Bunch, as a project of Douglass College in 1989. CWGL is also part of the Office of International Programs and a member of the Institute for Women's Leadership (IWL). The IWL is a consortium of women's programs at Rutgers University created to both study how and why women lead and develop programs to prepare women of all ages to lead effectively.
Over the years, CWGL has been instrumental in fostering women's leadership in the area of human rights through leadership institutes, international mobilization campaigns, including the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, strategic planning activities, United Nations monitoring and advocacy, publications and development of a resource center. The Center has trained a generation of women leaders from all regions of the world to use the human rights framework to achieve strategic objectives.
The global women’s movement is a significant force in international policy arenas, bringing women’s experiences and feminist analyses to issues such as development, peace, health, the environment, gender equality and human rights. It helped to transform women's issues from "special interests" to the legitimate claims of half the world's population. Recognition of the importance of women's rights as human rights and of the seriousness of the abuses experienced by women and girls worldwide has been a central component of the women’s movement. Within this context, CWGL has been a central player in the transformative endeavor of demanding respect for the rights of all women. As one of the first organizations with the specific goal of developing multi-cultural, feminist leadership for advocacy around women’s human rights globally, the Center has been a catalyst, convener and leader in the evolution of this work.
Under the leadership of Radhika Balakrishnan, who assumed the post of executive director in 2009, CWGL expanded it programming to include a focus on economic rights and justice from a feminist perspective. In particular, the Center is actively working to facilitate and disseminate feminist analyses of economic and social rights and macroeconomic policies to better inform the work of civil society organizations and policymakers at the international and national levels. To this end, CWGL is leading and organizing trainings and sharing cutting edge feminist research in the area of economic rights to broaden and deepen the capacity of women leaders and social justice organizations to analyze, comment on, and create alternatives to policies shaping the lives of women and girls. CWGL is viewed as a leading feminist institution engaged in economic and social justice work and has, as a result, gained entry into a dynamic and unfolding dialogue extending from the grassroots, to the academy, up to the highest levels of the United Nations.