BARCELONA, Spain—Nearly 40 top women leaders in the global credit union movement met as part of the Global Women's Leadership Network, immediately following World Council of Credit Union's (WOCCU) World Credit Union Conference here. The network, launched earlier this year by WOCCU in collaboration with the Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA), is the first of its kind, bringing together women leaders from more than 15 countries to connect, share ideas and participate in a peer advisory program.
Network members met during an inaugural one-day forum July 30 to discuss leadership issues vital to credit union growth and development worldwide. Network members include CEOs, executives and board directors from credit unions and industry partners. Countries represented range from Australia and Belarus to Mexico and Zimbabwe.
|Chetna Sinha of Mann Deshi Women's Bank in India shared her inspiring experiences with fellow Forum participants.|
"Women worldwide play an active role in finance and economics," said Chetna Sinha, founder and chair of India's Mann Deshi Women's Bank, network member and forum participant. "It is very important that women occupy a leadership role in this industry because women's financial leadership capabilities are extraordinary."
Despite operating in vastly different environments, women participating in the forum found they faced similar leadership challenges in their credit unions. Topics discussed during the forum's inaugural session included the critical impact women have in society and challenges facing women in leadership positions. Participants also broke into small groups to have in-depth discussions about strategic issues such as growing market share and facilitating greater access to credit unions worldwide.
Faced with the global financial crisis, credit unions worldwide recognize that cultivating future leadership is more critical than ever. The network, supported by credit unions and individuals alike, is designed to enable women in credit unions to connect, communicate and seek confidential advice from their peers around the world. Women did just that in the one-day forum and will continue to do so into the future via a new professional networking site developed for the network.
WOCCU and CCA are raising funds to offer women in both developed and developing countries greater access to credit union resources that will enable them to lead in the economic development of their communities. In addition to providing financial support to development efforts to increase access to financial services for women in field programs, leaders who join the network gain access to the peer advisory online forum and receive periodic updates on women in credit unions.
"Women play a vital role in the economic wellbeing of families and communities worldwide," said Brian Branch, WOCCU executive vice president and COO. "The Global Women's Leadership Network will empower women not only to increase their effectiveness, but also to bring their leadership capabilities to the forefront. And that will benefit everyone."
The 2010 Global Women's Leadership Forum will take place in Las Vegas, USA, in conjunction with The 1 Credit Union Conference to be co-hosted by WOCCU and the Credit Union National Assocation in July. For complete information about the network, visit www.woccu.org/involved/womensleadership, or contact Valerie Breunig at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Canadians may contact Julie Breuer at the Canadian Development Foundation email@example.com to get involved.
World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development agency for credit unions. World Council promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial cooperatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services. World Council advocates on behalf of the global credit union system before international organizations and works with national governments to improve legislation and regulation. Its technical assistance programs introduce new tools and technologies to strengthen credit unions' financial performance and increase their outreach.
World Council has implemented more than 290 technical assistance programs in 71 countries. Worldwide, 56,000 credit unions in 101 countries serve 200 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.