Women’s social and political leadership

An influential social entrepreneur working in this field is Mary Daley Yerrick.  She is participating in our WCM Workshop in May 2010 and acting as a strategic and operational advisor to WCM.

Mary is the co-founder and director of Vital Voices Global Partnership which began in 1997 as a US Government initiative and was privatized as an NGO in 1999.  She served as Co-CEO of Vital Voices from 2005 until 2009.  She has managed many of the Vital Voices Economic Empowerment programs and in 2007 founded Vital Voices Women Artisan Entrepreneurs program that gives thousands of women leaders in the arts and crafts sector the knowledge, tools and ongoing support to grow their business into a more profitable enterprise and if they desire to develop and take their products to export in the United States when they are export-ready.

Vital Voices’ mission is to identify, invest in and bring visibility to extraordinary women around the world by unleashing their leadership potential to transform lives and accelerate peace and prosperity in their communities.  Vital Voices Global Partnership is a leading non-governmental organization (NGO) that trains, and empowers emerging women leaders and social entrepreneurs around the globe.  Our international staff and team of over 1,000 partners, pro bono experts and leaders, including senior government, corporate and NGO executives, have trained and mentored more than 8,000 emerging women leaders from over 127 countries in Asia, Africa, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East since 1997. These women have returned home to train and mentor more than 500,000 additional women and girls in their communities.

A crucial component of women’s empowerment is developing and securing equitable representation in both formal and informal decision-making structures. Women leaders must be able to influence their community’s priorities for development.

The Inter-Parliamentary Union reports a world average of only 18.4% in combined houses of parliament. See Inter-Parliamentary Union.

A study in three widely differing countries (Bolivia, Cameroon and Malaysia) showed that, were women to have a greater say in spending priorities, they would be far more likely to spend family and community resources for improving health, education, community infrastructure and the eradication of poverty, as opposed to the military, alcohol or gambling. See WEF.

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