By Barbara Kres Beach, Founding President
The Global Initiative for Women’s Leadership (GIWL) knits together three elements: (1) empowerment for women through culturally sensitive in-country program development; (2) program resources and support from around the world; and (3) ways to build long-term sustainable programs.
First, culturally sensitive development happens when women team up and agree on their priorities. It happens when we meet to deliberate about what we need and decide what we must do. Training programs for the GIWL are built by women who are ready to make equality, empowerment, and community their priority, passion, and action. We are good at this!
The second part is providing resources and support. The Global Initiative Leadership Team links in-country participants and facilitators with mentors, resource specialists, and funding match-makers. The Team—in and outside the country—plans together; identifies resources; activates the project; and finally, takes stock to ensure that goals have been reached. We learn best when we learn from one another.
Third, program sustainability requires looking beyond short-term goals, toward a long-range vision. To be sustained, projects and programs require focus and execution. Focus means keeping our eye on the result: empowering women, building UU community, growing gender equity. Execution means doing the work well. Both take passion and persistence. At IWC, we are committed to building capacity for sustainability and long-term success.
When our kids were young, we camped in Nova Scotia, and the first evening, their father (my husband) got lost in the woods. When he finally came back, he told the story of walking in several wrong directions in the enveloping darkness. Our eldest, 4-year-old son remonstrated, “Daddy, you can’t EVER give up!” Sustainability means more than not giving up. Developing sustainable programs with our global partners helps all of us to preserve gains, learn which off-mission distractions to discard, and mark milestones with promise-renewing celebrations.
Bruce Knotts, Director of UUA’s United Nations Office put it this way: “I am ready to help [the International Women’s Convocation] in any way. I think what you do is amazing. Everyone, everywhere needs gender equality. Gender equality builds democracy, fights terrorism, increases cooperation, and so much more.”
My husband Kim and I are personally committed to this program. We pledged $5,000 to launch a “seed-money” fund. It’s just the beginning. In this challenging and opportunity-laden period in our UU history, we believe women will make the difference. Please help us make a difference by investing in women and girls worldwide!