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WOCCU launches Womens global leadership initiative
MADISON, Wis. (3/6/09)--The World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) has launched a new initiative to help women in developing countries build their leadership capacity. WOCCU's Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions is raising funds through the new Global Women's Leadership Initiative, a network of women credit union leaders, to support women inhibited by financial hardship in developing countries.
Click for video Click for video. (Photo provided by World Council of Credit Unions)
WOCCU will launch the initiative to coincide with International Women's Day, which is Sunday. Funds raised will be used to provide women in need with educational opportunities and expand local microfinance efforts in developing countries. The initiative is led both by WOCCU and the Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA), which offers educational resources and information about women worldwide through its website. Both organizations are dedicating efforts to provide women with greater access to credit union resources that will enable them to lead their communities. "Women are often the vital link between credit unions and their communities in developing countries," said Brian Branch, WOCCU's executive vice president and chief operating officer. "Despite social obstacles many of them face, women lead in the economic development of their communities and manage their families' financial well-being." In countries like Sri Lanka, for example, a new relationship between WOCCU and Women's Bank, a financial cooperative owned and operated entirely by women, provides financing and education to women farmers. The cooperative also guarantees funding for groups comprised of elderly women and those in greatest need. In Afghanistan, despite being subjected to social restrictions under Islamic law, many women have begun working with Islamic investment and finance cooperatives (credit unions) to secure small loans to start micro businesses. The Global Women's Leadership Initiative is designed to support such global efforts. By harnessing the influence, experience and involvement of credit union women leaders from both developed and developing countries, WOCCU and CCA hope women will better serve as leaders within their respective communities, according to Susan Mitchell, CEO of O'Rourke, Mitchell & Associates, San Francisco, Calif., and an advisor to the program. “My work with the Global Women's Leadership Initiative allows me to speak to both genders about the importance of women's roles in creating strong societies," Mitchell stressed. “This effort will allow us to create a network among credit union leaders that truly makes a difference. This is the right time to launch such an initiative because we have the voice, we are visible and it's our chance as leaders to expand the good work done through financial cooperatives for the benefit of people worldwide." Funds donated through the initiative will support development and education efforts, including scholarships to the peer learning session and day-long forum to be held in conjunction with WOCCU's World Credit Union Conference on July 30 in Barcelona, Spain. As the effort grows, additional networking opportunities will be scheduled. Participation in the Global Women's Leadership Forum is by invitation only, and is designed to tap the leadership experience of women credit union CEOs and executive team members, retired women credit union executives, women credit union volunteers and women executives of credit union partner organizations. However, financial contributions to the initiative's goals and objectives are accepted from anyone. Contact Valerie Breunig at vbreunig@woccu.org for more information.
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