Teresa Wolande’s thoughts on the Growing Importance of creating Forum`s for Women

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Women now have a real opportunity to participate in the global economy — there has never been a better time to be a woman, but there is still a lot of work to be done. The necessity of creating spaces for women to share ideas, collaborate and create is crucial to sustaining this growth. To go over the importance of forum’s for women in contemporary society, we spoke with none other than Teresa Wolande, the leader of the establishment, the Women’s Forum in Naples, Florida. With years of experience in insurance and international risk management, Teresa Wolande knows better than anyone the importance of creating safe spaces for women.

Today, the median female share of the global workforce is 45.4 percent. Women’s formal and informal labor can transform a community from a relatively autonomous society to a participant in the national economy. This year’s International Women’s Day theme was: “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change”. Teresa Wolande explains that this was chosen to identify innovative ways to advance gender equality and the empowerment of women, as women’s opportunities still lag behind men worldwide.

The Overseas Development Institute (ODI), an independent think tank on international development and humanitarian issues, released a report near the beginning of 2017 outlining ten factors that can either enable or constrain women’s economic empowerment. The ODI noted that it is “concerned not just with increases in women’s access to income and assets, but also with control over them and how they use that control in other aspects of life.” Some of the standouts on the list were education, skills and development training, collective action and leadership, and social protection. One of the ways women are challenging this historic gender bias and strengthening their skills, collective action and social protection, is through the formation of women’s forums.

Networking groups can be an efficient way to meet valuable contacts and gain ideas. But for some, female-only networking groups go the extra mile in providing a space for gender issues and equality to be discussed without judgement. Building women’s networking groups and acknowledging gender issues within a company can propel awareness, improve the working environment, and boost employee confidence.

A women’s forum can stimulate ideas, give women opportunities to grow, and instill confidence in their abilities. It has often been touted that we can only reach the highest wrung of the ladder we can see, and bringing together groups of women who are open to learning and growing from and with one another, can be the beacon needed to propel them with confidence into the global economy. Teresa Wolande explains that the goal of any women’s forum is to level the gender playing field, helping our economies and societies rebound from the historic gender bias, helping women realize their ambitions for their lives and their careers. The growing number of these types of forums is likely to become more prevalent, as women find strength in the stories, lessons and triumphs of one another.

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Former CFO of a large Ambulatory Company in the U.S. Now retired and helping to establish women’s forums in Florida. Family woman, safari lover, and avid golfer

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