In celebration of International Women's Day, I had the great pleasure of joining our friends Kellie Kreiser and Wynona Heim from Thunderbird for Good at this year's International Women of Courage Awards celebration. This award was established by the U.S. Department of State in 2001 to honor women who are making a substantial difference in the lives of women in countries around the globe.
This week, the American Women for International Understanding (AWIU) supported this outstanding program by hosting a celebration event, which acknowledges these women of courage, their personal stories and their work.This year's honorees came from Afghanistan, China, Egypt, Honduras, Somalia, Syria, Nigeria, Russia, India, Vietnam, and Tibet. During the award celebration, the honorees shared their stories about their work to support women in the face of threats, family rejection, violence, and arrest. Their work varied from shining a light on human rights abuses in Tibet to creating the first crisis hotline for victims of rape and abuse in Somalia; from holding a government accountable for violence against women in Egypt to marching for democracy and transparency in Nigeria, but in the case of each honoree, the courage to speak out for the rights of women was the defining factor. It was simultaneously heartbreaking and inspirational, and I was humbled to be in their presence.
In addition to the International Women of Courage awards, the AWIU also recognized Thunderbird for Good, an initiative of GBSN-member Thunderbird School for Global Management. Thunderbird for Good was created in 2005 with the mission to "create prosperity through business education for all.” To accomplish this, the initiative leverages Thunderbird School of Global Management’s expertise as a leader in international business education to provide non-traditional students with business and management skills to fight poverty, secure peace, and improve living conditions in their communities. Many of Thunderbird for Good’s programs focus on educating businesswomen in developing countries. To date, Thunderbird for Good has trained over 75,000 women from 26 different countries, ranging from Afghanistan to Uzbekistan and from Pakistan to Palau.
My heartfelt congratulations goes out to Kellie, Wynona, and the whole team at Thunderbird for Good for the phenomenal work they are doing around the world to empower women. It is a pleasure to be associated with such an amazing organization and I am grateful to have been a part of their award celebration. I hope their work inspires others to use the power of business education to create prosperity around the globe because, as was pointed out by all of the International Women of Courage awardees, their is still more work to be done.
Nora Brown is the Chief Operating Officer for the Global Business School Network.