MADISON, Wis.–2019 marks the 10th anniversary of the Global Women’s Leadership Network (GWLN), which was created with a vision of providing women with the
opportunity and resources to make a difference in the lives of each other, in the lives of credit union members and in their communities.
In a letter offering an update on the organization, Brian Branch, CEO of the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), said …. The GWLN was created under the auspices of the World Council, with leadership and its early driving force coming from Sue Mitchell of Mitchell Stankovic Associates.
How far has the organization come? asked Branch in the letter.
“The initial request which led to the GWLN was to create a safe forum in which women could discuss business issues among themselves. Yet it was not meant to be divisive or separatist,” said Branch. “Both females and males championed the network, contributed their time and leveraged the power of the network and the vision to make a difference among their peers and in their community.”
Since that early vision, membership has been expanded to include men, as well as members in 78 countries and active “sister societies” in more than 20 states. Many leagues also include a GWLN sister societies luncheon at their annual conferences, noted Branch.
In addition to support from Mitchell Stankovic and Associates, other companies that have provided backing include PSCU, CU Answers, CU Direct, CO-OP Financial Services, CUNA Mutual Group and Ser Technology Corporation, said Branch.
The 2019 Plan
For 2019, Branch said the agenda is returning to some of the early challenges in serving women, including:
- Raising better data about women’s participation in credit union systems around the world and the impact of their financial inclusion.
- Identifying the obstacles that women face in addressing time, family and opportunity costs of taking on executive or leadership responsibilities. The credit union system has the opportunity to lead the financial systems by establishing institutional best practices.
- Implementing solutions that leverage opportunities for women’s financial inclusion presented by digital technologies. With the Gates Foundation we work in Philippines and Indonesia to connect women with credit union digital platforms to e-commerce and payments ecosystems.
- Expanding credit union secured lending to women business owners and entrepreneurs.
- Partnering with the African Confederation of Credit Unions’ new Africa Womens’ Network to empower women leadership in the African credit union system.