What comes to mind when I say “inspiring women”? Is it the face of a mother or grandmother who made sacrifices to raise you? Maybe a teacher who gave you the knowledge and confidence to pursue your dreams? A friend or family member who courageously confronted cancer? In the WNBA, we celebrate inspiring women everyday. In light of that, I want to share with you some of the most amazing women I have ever met.
Every Wednesday since 2004, in the remote village of Konodimini, Mali, a selected group of women called Wassa (which translates to “satisfaction”) has gathered together to discuss the health of their community as well as the self-imposed micro-economic system that they established. The system works as follows: All of the women pool their money together into a box that represents the group savings. From there, the women are allowed to take out interest free loans for up to three months if there is a family emergency or their child must go to the doctor. These women are also allowed to take out a one month loan with interest if they desire to start a small business, which often entails selling grain or some other agricultural based product. None of these women have an MBA in economics or probably even have an education greater than primary school, yet they have revolutionary insight and leadership skills that transcend the dirt huts in which they live.
When the Nothing But Nets group visited the Wassa group’s village, the women first performed a beautiful ceremonial dance. We then sat in a circle and listened to not only the details of their economic system, but also about their involvement with the integrated health campaign. These women guaranteed us that there would be 100% participation by the mothers and the children from their village. Since this was the first day of the campaign, (which provides a measles and polio vaccine, vitamin A, de-worming medicine and a mosquito net to every child under the age of five), these remarkable women went around at 5:00 AM to make sure that all of the women in the village were not only aware of the campaign but would be participating!
Throughout history women have traditionally played the role of the
care-giver, but it was the intuitive leadership and management skills of these women that I found quite simply INSPIRATIONAL!