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Global Women Discuss Advancement As Leaders
Click to view larger image Sheryl WuDunn, New York Times bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize winner, discusses women's economic empowerment at the 2013 Global Women's Leadership Forum in Ottawa, Canada.
OTTAWA, Canada (7/17/13)--More than 110 women credit union leaders from 12 countries gathered to discuss the advancement of credit-union women leadership, during the 2013 Global Women's Leadership Forum, Sunday. The event was held in conjunction with World Council of Credit Unions' World Credit Union Conference in Ottawa, Canada.

Participants heard from keynote speaker Sheryl WuDunn, New York Times bestselling author of  Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide and the first Asian-American Pulitzer Prize winner, about women's potential to impact global development.

WuDunn presented research from her book on the varying degrees of women's oppression worldwide. In addition to women's education and jobs, she said that microsavings can provide women with economic empowerment, which is a key to solving gender inequity worldwide.

Click to view larger image Sheryl WuDunn meets Brian Branch, World Council of Credit Unions president/CEO, at the 2013 Global Women's Leadership Network reception. WuDunn is a New York Times bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize winner.
"There's no silver bullet," WuDunn said. "We must try different strategies, and a lot of times what works is not always the sexiest."

WuDunn related her findings to the credit union movement during a panel discussion focused on the challenges women credit union leaders face. Teresa Freeborn, El Segundo, Calif.-based Xceed Financial FCU president/ CEO, moderated the discussion. It included Patrice Pratt, Vancity CU (Canada) director; Lucy Ito, California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues executive vice president and chief operating officer; Lisa Bonin, Servus CU (Canada) corporate procurement specialist; and Katie Smigiel, CU*Answers vice president of organizational development.

The network announced that it is partnering with Filene Research Institute this year to conduct a study that identifies obstacles to leadership that women face in the credit union industry worldwide.

Click to view larger image Nicole Bice, left, Global Women's Leadership Network manager, presents the 2013 Athena Award to Roxanne Ostrem, Ventura (Calif.) County CU director, on behalf of the Global network at Saturday's network reception in Ottawa, Canada. (Photos provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
The panel discussed recent research on inequalities in executive positions held by women throughout credit union systems worldwide. A balance of men and women in top decision-making positions can accelerate an organization's economic success, their studies and personal experiences revealed. Panelists suggested Global Women's Leadership Network members could make a difference by raising awareness on the importance and benefits of women leadership at their own credit unions, especially among those in upper management.

"Women aren't the problem," WuDunn said. "They are the solution."

Prior to the forum, Roxanne Ostrem, Ventura (Calif.) County CU director, was honored with the network's 2013 Athena Award Saturday evening at the Network's reception. The annual award honors outstanding achievement in support of credit union development, particularly as it relates to credit union women's leadership development worldwide.

Ostrem has been a credit union advocate for more than 20 years and is a founding member of the Global Women's Leadership Network.

The conference ends today with World Council's annual awards ceremony and closing night reception at the Canadian Museum of Civilization.
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