Women’s Leadership Scholarship



PLEASE NOTE: for official information, specific details, and updated deadlines and instructions, please check the organization’s website and current application forms; if you have problems or questions, please contact us.


  • Applications for the 2009-2010 academic year will be available beginning Jan. 1, 2009.
  • 14 March 2008 pre-application deadline
  • end March 2008 selected pre-applications are requested to submit full application


  • The WLS Selection Committee awards four to eight scholarships per year, up to US$25,000 per academic year for a maximum of two years. The awards help the recipients meet the costs of tuition, fees, books, educational supplies, housing, maintenance, and travel to and from the home country and the educational institution. WLS awards are paid directly to the institution in a student’s account. For foreign women intending to study at U.S. universities, WLS funding for expenses other than tuition and books is subject to a 14% U.S. tax.
  • Candidates may use WLS funding for non-doctoral graduate study at accredited institutions worldwide. WLS is committed to strengthening research institutions in the Global South. As such, WLS encourages students to study in their home country or region provided that the educational institution is fully accredited for higher education.
  • We are also aware that the WLS application submission timeline poses difficulties for some applicants from the Global South due to differing academic calendars. Unfortunately, since we and our volunteer committee are small, we cannot currently offer more than one application cycle. At present, we encourage those students from the Global South who face a different academic calendar to apply during the first year/semester of their studies in order to finance the remainder of their studies.
  • An accredited educational institution is one that maintains a regular faculty, curriculum, and has a regular, organized body of students in attendance on site or through distance learning. Award recipients are selected on an objective and non-discriminatory basis, without regard to race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or age of the applicant. Employment status is taken into consideration only with regards to determining whether the applicant meets the minimum three years professional experience requirement in the applicant’s proposed field of study or research.
  • The Women’s Leadership Scholarship (WLS) program (formerly the Native Leadership Scholarship) creates educational opportunities for women activists, grassroots leaders, and organizers from the Global South and/or from indigenous groups. WLS invests in women’s leadership by supporting non-doctoral graduate education in human rights, sustainable development, and public health in many places around the world.
  • WLS is a program of the Channel Foundation, a small, private foundation based in Seattle, Washington, USA that promotes leadership in women’s human rights around the globe. Channel’s mission is to fund and create opportunities for groups working in many regions of the world to ensure that women’s human rights are respected, protected, and fulfilled.
  • Channel Foundation and WLS envision a world where women and girls enjoy equal protection and fulfillment of their human rights and share power in directing institutions, guiding communities, and leading societies and nations. Women and girls shall have full access to the information, resources, training, and employment opportunities they need in order to overcome social, legal and economic barriers, to participate in decision making, and to claim their human rights.
  • WLS has been granting scholarships since 2001. Our alumni are working around the world to improve the welfare of their communities. Prior to 2006, WLS granted scholarships to both women and men which included a limited number of awards for doctoral level education. Please visit the WLS Alumni section for more information on their groundbreaking work. Starting in 2006, the WLS will only be awarding scholarships to women pursuing non-doctoral level graduate education.
  • The human rights framework articulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and international commitments to women’s rights set forth in the Convention on the Elimination of All Discrimination Against Women, the Beijing Platform for Action, and UN Security Council Resolution 1325 form the core values of the Channel Foundation and of WLS. These human rights instruments assert that “women’s rights are human rights” and recognize the essential dignity and inherent rights of every person.
  • In order to overcome women’s historical exclusion from positions of leadership in public life, WLS is committed to supporting education and training, especially for those most affected by injustice and poverty. As part of the social justice funding movement, Channel believes that empowerment of grassroots groups and partnership models of funding are the only truly effective pathways to achieving lasting social change. Channel and WLS are committed to building capacity in the Global South, and honoring the dignity, fundamental rights, and creativity of activists on the front lines.
  • WLS supports study, research, and leadership training, to assist women in their pursuit of solutions to the critical social, environmental, health and economic problems facing their countries and communities. By granting scholarships to remarkable women who demonstrate effective leadership, innovative solutions, and commitment to their communities, WLS helps develop and advance local expertise and community-based, culturally appropriate solutions. WLS endorses non-traditional leaders who use imaginative methodologies and model change. Academic study, research and leadership training should be based on the scholarship recipient’s present or prior experience working with her community.
  • Scholarship recipients enroll in programs of study that cover a range of human rights and development issues at the non-doctoral graduate level including gender, reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, child exploitation, human trafficking, conflict resolution, environmental justice, global fair trade, and sustainable development. WLS is a secular program and does not support programs of study that promote specific religious beliefs.

Eligibility and Restrictions:

  • Eligible candidates include women leaders from the Global South and/or from indigenous groups who also meet all the following criteria:
    • They are committed to grassroots organizing and the needs of their communities or indigenous group.
    • They have proof of a bachelor’s or a higher degree.
    • They have at least three years of work experience dealing with critical human rights concerns, and other social, educational, environmental, health or economic conditions that negatively affect their communities.
    • They have been accepted into a non-doctoral graduate program at an accredited university for full-time study/research related to their work experience in human rights, sustainable development, and/or public health.
    • They can show evidence of financial need for educational support.
    • They intend to return to their home countries to work, utilizing training and research acquired in the study program.

Application Procedure:

  • A Selection Committee of at least three people, including a Channel Foundation trustee or staff member, a graduate-level university administrator, and a representative of an international NGO, determine applicants’ eligibility and decide awards. Selection and terms of WLS awards are determined by evidence that an applicant requires financial support to attain the education planned. Channel Foundation staff, Selection Committee members, or relatives of either are disqualified from applying for the WLS.
  • There are two stages in the WLS application process. All applicants are invited to submit pre-applications but only a few will be invited to complete full applications.
  • January 1, 2008 Pre-applications are available
  • March 14, 2008 Last day pre-applications available
  • Late March 2008 Committee reviews full applications, and invites the top 12-15 candidates to submit full WLS application with supporting documentation
  • Late May 2008 Committee reviews full applications
  • Early June 2008 Awardees notified
  • Summer 2008 Funds disbursed
  • Incomplete applications will not be accepted:
  1. You must fill out ALL portions of the form.
  2. List information about the Master’s degree program you have applied to and your anticipated degree date.
  3. List information about the educational costs for the Master’s program you applied for in US dollars.
  4. List information about other scholarships, fellowships or financial aid you are applying for.
  5. If you are not a woman leader from a developing country and/or a member of an indigenous tribe or group, PLEASE DO NOT APPLY.
  6. Finally, your work experience and educational goals MUST be related to human rights, public health, sustainable development and/or a related issue. If they are not, PLEASE DO NOT APPLY.
  7. WLS does NOT FUND individuals applying for second Master’s degrees.
  • After the pre-application period ends, all candidates will be notified about their application status. Incomplete pre-applications will not be considered for review. Unsolicited additional documents provided by the pre-applicant will not be reviewed. Only a small group of candidates will be invited to complete a full application.
  • In late March, the WLS Selection Committee meets to screen all pre-applications. No other documentation is reviewed in this preliminary screening. The committee chooses the 12 – 15 candidates that most closely match WLS award criteria, and invites applicants in this group to submit the full WLS application with supporting documentation. In late May, after reading all of the full applications, the committee meets again to decide on the award recipients. The awardees are notified at the beginning of June, and award funds are issued in the summer months.


not stated; check with the application form after it is released