Global Good News
Women’s Groups Fighting Poverty
Thanks to the vision and commitment of two religious women in San Antonio, Texas, their “sisters” around the world are being empowered to support one another in learning, leadership, and raising their communities’ economic standards of living.
In 2001, Sisters Dorothy Ettling and Naomi Hayes, both members of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, founded Women’s Global Connection (WGC). Sponsored by their congregation and in partnership with the university of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, their goal was to further education and research in the global community and to address the ills perpetuated by poverty and violence through faith-grounded outreach efforts to women around the world.
The organization accomplishes this goal by collaborating with women’s cooperatives and microenterprises in developing countries. Its collaborative efforts are guided by two distinctive principles:
First, operational strategies must be based on long-term mutual commitments. Outreach activities must represent processes for building respectful relationships with local residents and providing concrete opportunities to mutually plan and implement projects.
Second, WGC seeks and welcomes collaborators from many different colleges, universities, nonprofits, and business organizations to create broad and meaningful partnerships.
Since 2003, WGC has partnered with Bukoba Women’s Empowerment Association (BUWEA) in Bukoba, Tanzania, and Masupa Nzila Women’s Empowerment Association in Mongu, Zambia, to promote economic growth and social empowerment, helping women who want to improve their home-based businesses or start new commercial activities. Each of these local cooperatives has a policy that provides for women helping other women through a pay-back or pay-forward practice, thus ensuring that monies received benefit many women.
These local entrepreneurs are associated with U.S.-based groups. A San Diego group partners with the Bukoba association, while a Dallas group works with the Masupa Nzila group. Collaborative efforts focus on providing training and materials that are relevant and culturally sensitive in small-business start-ups, management, nutrition, and computer literacy.
Since the program began, more than 200 local women have applied for seed capital for the first time, enabling them to initiate grass-roots commercial activities; an increased number of local children are attending school; and there is tangible evidence of positive community development successes.