By: Wynona Heim, Program Manager, Afghanistan, Thunderbird for Good
The second annual 10,000 Women Leadership Academy brought more than 100 partners from 20 countries worldwide together in Washington, DC from June 6th – 9th, 2010. The entire Thunderbird for Good team was in attendance to represent the 10,000 Women programs that Thunderbird partners with in Afghanistan and Peru.
The Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women business training program has provided entrepreneurial training to 2,000 women with high potential businesses or concepts for businesses in 20 developing economies in the first two years of the initiative.
Former Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice addressed participants at a dinner held at the newly re-opened Smithsonian National Museum of American History, “On many occasions I’ve been asked, what’s the one thing you would do if you could wave a magic wand and make the world better? And I always come to one as central: I would empower women.”
We at Thunderbird for Good wholeheartedly agree! The significance of economically empowering women was evidenced by four 10,000 Women graduates who attended the conference as honored scholars from Brazil, Kenya, India, and our own graduate from the Afghan program, Masooma Habibi. Masooma spoke eloquently to the group. “Before I started 10,000 Women, I didn’t have a business, I just had a dream,” she said. “But 10,000 Women was like turning a switch. Everything changed. Now I have 22 employees.”
The academy was held over three days and included speaker sessions and interactive workshops that focused on the challenges partners faced in administering the initiative, as well as broader trends in empowering women in developing economies. Influential leaders in this area came together to speak to participants during the three day conference, including: Ambassador-at-large for Global Women’s issues Melanne Verveer, Under Secretary for Management Patrick Kennedy, President of the Council on Foreign Relations Richard Haass, founder and CEO of Women for Women International Zainab Salbi, and more.
Thunderbird for Good and other program participants made maximum use of the opportunity to share best practices and insights gained from the first two years and 2,000 graduates of the initiative. However, we all agreed that the very best part of the Leadership Academy was the chance to finally put faces to names and get to know in person all of the colleagues that we had previously known primarily over phone and e-mail communications.