Thoughts from our delegate, Tracey Snoyer:
I am struck by the passion in this place. Women are dedicating their hearts and souls to the causes of women’s empowerment and equity in all its ways and with its many faces. I am moved in deep ways by both the causes that are being pursued, and the devoted hearts and brains of the people doing their part to eradicate it. I find myself overwhelmed at the bigness of the cause and the smallness of my own personal resources. It evokes the thought engraved on a plaque given to John F. Kennedy: “O God, Thy sea is so great, and my boat is so small.”
And yet…when I listen to the call of my own heart toward that work that calls upon my best gifts and my deepest hopes, there emerges my own path. For me, I think that path includes creating business opportunities for women. I believe that women who begin to see themselves as creators of industry and family income find voice and influence in all the affairs of their lives. They are given choice.
I was energized by the work being done by some NGO’s to create access to business ownership and leadership for under-served women. I had never heard of MonDragon Corporation. MonDragon, out of Basque, Spain, is a corporation larger than U.S. Steel and has employees in 40 countries and is the 7th largest company in Spain. Started in 1956, it is a corporation and federation of worker cooperatives. By the end of 2012, it had more than 80,000 employees in 289 companies. A cooperative corporation (or simply, a “cooperative“) is a special form of corporation that places ownership and/or control of the corporation in the hands of the employees or patrons of the corporation.
MonDragon companies are found in Finance, Industry, Retail and Knowledge and it is owned by employees. Through an annual general assembly the workers choose and employ a managing director and retain the power to make all the basic decisions of the enterprise (what, how and where to produce and what to do with the profits, wage levels for all — including management).
Opening up leadership, decision making and empowerment to women at all levels in an organization has the potential for empowering her in every area of her life, and allowing her the influence that has so often been denied her. Once we see our own potential for impact, we do not step back into the shadows.
Back in 1956, MonDragon was a tiny, leaky vessel. Today it is a cruiseliner powerfully navigating the seas of opportunity for its 80,000 members-employees.