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International Women’s Day 2015: Recognizing Our Teams Around the World

Published 03/06/2015 by Global Communities

In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8th, Global Communities is highlighting some of the staff from our country offices and microfinance institutions around the world. Here we profile some of our staff from Colombia, Liberia, Jordan and Gaza.

Each of these women work in very different environments, facing unique challenges and obstacles. What they have in common is their commitment to the clients and communities they serve and their desire to help those around them by serving as role models and leaders. Below, they describe their work and how it advances the well-being of women as well as some of the unique challenges they face as women in their respective fields.

As the Program Manager for ANDA in Colombia, Diana Guzman is responsible for all programmatic financial and administrative management and oversight of the five-year, $28.6 million program which works to create sustainable change that alleviates poverty and hardship for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and vulnerable populations, making them more resilient.

“We work with IDPs and vulnerable communities in which women are one of the groups most affected by violence and poverty. With our program in Colombia we seek to empower women so their voices are heard among their community and they participate actively in decision-making activities. We also focus our psychosocial activities with women since, in most cases, women are affected from Gender-Based Violence and Domestic Violence.”

“I think one of the main challenges is to gain the respect and credibility of community leaders and managers of different organizations in a society that has historically been male chauvinistic. There is the misconception that women are not as capable as men or that women are weak. For that reason, we have to work harder to show the capabilities and skills women have. I have overcome those situations, not only with hard work, patience, and continuous training and education, but also, and probably most important, taking risks and not been afraid to show the leader I am.”

Elizabeth Geddeh holds two key positions within the Global Communities Liberia office. She is the Rural WASH Program Manager for the USAID-funded IWASH program which aims to improve overall health through better water supply systems, sanitation facilities and hygiene practices. With the Ebola crisis, she has also taken on the role of the County Advisor for Nimba, Sinoe and Rivercess under the Assisting Liberians with Education to Reduce Transmission (ALERT) program.

“My work with Global Communities advances the well-being of women in that as a part of the senior management team I propose issues concerning women’s engagement and encourage women’s empowerment through career development. In the fight against Ebola, I encourage the participation of women to be trained as trainers of burial and disinfection teams in the county. My position as County advisor put me in a place to be on the front line in the fight against Ebola in Liberia, where I was able to engage women leaders to take positive action to prevent the transmission of Ebola among community members.”

“The challenges that I face in my working environment as a woman is that the environment and profession I find myself in is an all-male world, and I have to move with the pace that they are moving. Sometimes I find it challenging, but I plan ahead and discuss ideas with my male counterparts to ensure that we are on the same path, which makes my work easy and enjoyable.”

“During this Ebola crisis in my county, I have added duties to work as County Advisor. One of my responsibilities is to engage traditional leaders at all levels (county, district and community) to agree on action points to stop the spread and transmission of Ebola. For our African culture, women are limited in the engagement of traditional discussion with men. This was challenging for me, but with my skills in social interaction, I was able to have a one-on-one meeting with key traditional leaders beforehand and find out from them their thoughts about Ebola in terms of transmission, denial and traditional practices that put people at risk. I was able to facilitate the discussion that was engaging and action points developed.”

Ula Farajat heads the Management Information System (MIS) department for Vitas Jordan, Global Communities’ microfinance institution in Jordan which provides financial products and services to clients with the aim of fostering the long-term development of individuals, their businesses, their families and the communities in which they live. Ula started her journey with Vitas Jordan in 2000 as a data entry officer. Today she oversees the entire MIS department, managing a staff of eight who consistently strive to live up to Vitas Jordan’s mission.

“I believe that women are the foundation of the society. We must keep ahead of all developments and rapid changes that are occurring around us. In my department, I have eight employees, all of whom are motivated and ambitious women. We act as one team and I’m constantly looking for ways to empower them.”

“The dramatic changes in all fields of my work environment are the biggest challenges I face. I hope that all women would have the courage to manage all of the challenges they face and overcome them with training and support. We need to keep moving and not be held back by work pressures, and I thank Vitas Jordan for supporting me and giving me the opportunity to grow and become a leader.”

Eman Al-Kraimeen started working at Vitas Jordan in 1999 as a Loan Officer. As Vitas Jordan grew, so did Eman’s responsibilities. She now serves as the Branch Manager in Tafileh, southern Jordan.

“Coming from a conservative culture, working with Vitas Jordan gave me the chance to help change the local society’s view of the role of women in the working environment. I am happy to see many dedicated working women who support their families, especially in southern Jordan.”

“One of the foremost challenges that I face as a woman is how to lead the branch and communicate with clients and staff who were unaccustomed to the idea of having a woman in a position like mine. It took a lot of patience and time to gain their trust by participating in local community events and workshops that helped build awareness about the company and the women’s role in society.”

Hala Naser is the Database Manager for the Global Communities office in Gaza. With more than 20 years of experience working in IT (19 of them with Global Communities), she manages the entire loan database system, ensuring that all of the required data is entered properly and preparing monthly portfolio reports.

“My work with Global Communities has contributed to my current personality and helped me in my ability to communicate with others and solve problems easily. It also helped in building my self-confidence and learning to work under pressure and under difficult circumstances to handle the challenges and priorities at work.”

“As for the challenges that I face in my working environment, I am proud to say that there are no actual challenges since our office respects women’s work and their efforts. But there are personal challenges that I face like, courage and the ability to withstand the pressures of life and finding the balance between family and work requirements.”