I read your Aug. 18 editorial, "Women's Issues Are Not Just Women's Issues," with great interest. The World Council of Credit Unions, as you know, is at the forefront of global development and has seen firsthand the power and strength women can bring in developing their communities through credit unions. In many countries, it's women who drive their family's economy, and in turn the stability of their communities. And credit unions benefit from their involvement.
You raised the question as to whether a business networking group can make a meaningful difference. In 2009, WOCCU launched the Global Women's Leadership Network to enable women credit union leaders from developed nations to network as well as assist women leaders from emerging countries. Based on the continuing response we receive to the network, there is no doubt at all of the value the network has brought to all its members.
Much of the funding contributed by group members as part of their involvement assisted credit union development in Colombia, Kenya and Sri Lanka, encouraging women to take on greater leadership roles in their communities and assisting their families with access to financial services. Funding also went to support the attendance by women credit union leaders from developing countries to the Global Women's Leadership Forum at The 1 Credit Union Conference this past July. Lessons learned by participants at both the forum and the conference no doubt were put to good use once the scholarship recipients returned home.
But the network also provided significant benefit to the current 144 members from 24 countries through peer networking and the sharing of experiences and resources. Whether this is done through our online blog or at one of our two Global Women's Leadership Forums, including the 2009 inaugural forum in Barcelona, Spain, our network members tell us they are amazed by how much they learn from each other even though their situations differ greatly.
Some of the successful growth strategies shared during the Las Vegas forum ranged from advertising strategies and staff training ideas to a program in which mothers in an emerging country could privately save school fees for newborn girls without having to inform their husbands. Certainly a credit union in a developed country wouldn't implement such a program, but it made an impression on everyone present as to why a program like the Global Women's Leadership Network is necessary.
World Council of Credit Unions