The data, GWLN and its role to bridge the gender gap

A few days before the GWLN Forum during the 2022 World Credit Union Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, the World Economic Forum released the Global Gender Gap 2022 report. This is the annual index which examines four dimensions: Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, and Political Empowerment. It’s the longest-standing index which tracks progress towards closing these gaps over time since its inception in 2006.

Three hundred plus pages reviewing 145 countries. What does the data show?

The most overwhelming number is 132! That is the estimated number of years needed to reach full parity.

This represents a slight four-year improvement compared to the 2021 estimate of 136 years.

The top three countries: Iceland, Finland and Norway and the US is ranked 27th in the index among 145 countries.

What does this data mean for the credit union industry and how must we continue playing our part to bridge the gaps for women in the global arena?

According to McKinsey Global Institute, full gender parity could add $28 trillion globally, or 26% of additional annual gross domestic product (GDP). Yet, the World Bank reports that 190 million FEWER women than men have an account with a financial institution.

The Global Women’s Leadership Network (GWLN) continues to play an active role to bridge the gap. GWLN today offers membership, scholarships and empowerment grants, networking and sister society engagement, and thought leadership. Membership to GWLN and engagement with Sister Societies is open to men.

The Sister Society model is a great mechanism which joins members and provides resources of what could be done. The first Sister Society was founded in San Francisco in 2012 and today there are 155 sister societies operating around the world and on six continents. Standard guidelines are provided by GWLN and each Sister Society morphs into its own unique grouping of individuals seeking to act locally while making an impact globally by providing more education, broadening the reach, augmenting connectivity and continuing to play an active role in the work that still needs to be done to change the data.

Some of the recently shared best practices from Sister Societies in the US and around the globe during the 2022 WCUC:

  • The Poland Sister Society is engaged with individuals who act for the benefit of its local communities.
  • The Brazil Sister Societies (which they refer to as Women’s Committees) are organized to support the women members who belong to one of the largest credit union systems in the country: Sicredi. They are organized in levels: National, Regional and Local. At the National level: one Sister Society is comprised of 20 members and they seek to make it 40 members: one from each regional SS. At the Regional level: there are 40 Sister Societies and the goal is to have one Sister Society per credit union. Sicredi has 108 credit unions.
  • In the US, some Sister Societies meet during their state leagues annual meetings. Others meet systematically every quarter while others continue using the virtual platform to expand their reach. All focus on offering more education to their members and some of the topics covered during meetings:
    • Hiring and retaining top talent
    • Managing and navigating hybrid teams
    • How to promote leadership & growth for the next generation
    • Financial health
    • Sharing your brand story
    • Mapping your career journey

For GWLN, it does not matter where you are located. Whether you’re in Idaho, Philippines, Kenya, or Costa Rica, join GWLN and your local Sister Society so we can all continue to work collectively to change the numbers and bridge the gender gaps.

We owe it to the future generations of women.

To learn more about how to join and get engaged with the Global Women’s Leadership Network, visit the page here. To join the effort to Bridge the Gender Gap, you can donate here.

The Worldwide Foundation is the fundraising and engagement arm of the World Council. Join us on a global journey to transform a billion lives worldwide using credit unions. Visit to start your journey today.

Lena Giakoumopoulos

Lena Giakoumopoulos

Giakoumopoulos has over 20 years of international experience working in 15 countries in western, central and eastern Europe. Prior to joining the World Council, she worked for consultancies funding European ... Web: Details