World Pulse Community Champions convene global discussions on leadership and economic empowerment.
Four World Pulse luminaries are ushering in a new model of leadership on WorldPulse.com. Meet the Community Champions who are mobilizing discussion and action in our network around two important topics: Economic Empowerment and Leadership.
What are Community Champions? They are community members who model World Pulse’s core values and help create a thriving, interactive network. They support and engage women change-leaders and their allies by sharing resources, spotlighting innovative solutions, encouraging connections, creating safe and meaningful environment for discussion, and building movements. Collectively, they bring rich life experience, facilitation skills, strong voices and listening ears, passion and expertise in their topic areas, and a burning desire to learn and share new things with other women around the world.
Read on to meet Dudziro from Zimbabwe and Olanike from Nigeria who are spearheading the Leadership Group, as well as Maria Chona from the Philippines and Phionah Musumba from Kenya who are heading up our Economic Empowerment Group. These women are building on their experiences as change leaders to establish World Pulse Groups as vibrant online spaces for connection and collaboration.
Ma.chona lasaca | Philippines
Maria Chona Lasaca
Economic Empowerment Community Champion
Maria Chona Lasaca (Ma.chona lasaca on World Pulse) approaches the challenge of leading the Economic Empowerment Group with the same spirit she approached her activism seeking democratic changes in the Philippines during the Marcos dictatorship more than 25 years ago. “I was one of the few brave souls who joined the protest movement,” she says. “I am now using that boldness to try new things.”
The hardships of that period in her life tested Maria Chona's resiliency, and imparted life lessons that shaped her as a leader. Maria Chona had met and married a revolutionary leader and bore a son while underground with the nationalist movement. “I struggled to meet the demands of being a young parent to two children while providing leadership to projects and development organizations,” she says.
Maria Chona’s husband is a political detainee who was involved in peace talks as a peace consultant during the time of his arrest andhas been imprisoned for the past six years. The peace talks have stalled. “The situation seems hopeless—but I have a sense of hope,” says Maria Chona
She aims to bring that sense of hope to other women in the Economic Empowerment group, and believes her own economic empowerment journey can provide inspiration. After years working in NGOs providing economic opportunities for others, Maria Chona decided to launch a business herself. In 2009, when she started her business providing healthy alternatives to fast food, she wished there were more resources and networks of support for entrepreneurs like her. “I felt isolated trying to manage [my business] in a very competitive setting.”
She hopes to guide the World Pulse Economic Empowerment group to become the kind of resource she was looking for back then.
“This group will serve as a wellspring of knowledge of what works and what doesn’t work in different contexts.” She also highlights the importance of connecting to others: “I see this group as a circle of support so that we can reach out to women changemakers in communities so that their efforts will be validated and innovations can be shared.”
Maria Chona brings more than 23 years of experience in program and project development and management. “I want to share with other women my experiences and strategies that helped me attain my life goals of becoming financially independent and having meaningful work.”
Maria Chona says she is looking forward to learning and taking part in a dynamic movement of women for women.
Phionah Musumba | KENYA
Economic Empowerment Community Champion
“I know the ugly face of poverty like the palm of my hand,” says Phionah Musumba, fromVihiga in rural Western Kenya. She recalls a painful time in her life when she could not afford to meet her family’s basic needs. Today, her experiences with poverty motivate her to empower grassroots women like herself.
“What I went through to get where I am presently was not pretty at all,” she continues. “I watched my son die for lack of money to pay for his medication. I fed my daughter stones for lack of food. I spent countless nights with my three children aged between 10 years and 5-months, out in the cold because I couldn't afford shelter. No mother needs to go through this. These are some of the strongest reasons I soldier on for my sisters. To make their suffering a little bit bearable. I do what I do because I lived their poverty.”
For the past 14 years, Phionah has headed a nonprofit organization that empowers girls with education and women with skills for enterprise development. She has run the Malkia Foundation and Centre for Disadvantaged Girls from her own pocket without donor support. “I know how hard it is to run a nonprofit without funds, when hundreds of people in the community look up to you for their daily sustenance,” says Phionah. “My inspiration comes from seeing the relief and happiness on the faces of girls and their brothers, who through Malkia Foundation get a second shot at an elusive education. My own life experiences keep me working harder everyday.”
In addition to her personal experiences overcoming economic challenges, Phionah brings experience in operations management, human resources, and mentoring and coaching employees.
Through her involvement with World Pulse, Phionah has recently been awarded two fellowships: Vital Voices 2014 and IREX CSP 2014. As a Community Champion, Phionah is excited to help grassroots women worldwide realize their economic potential. While sharing her knowledge, Phionah hopes to hone her own skills, particularly in microfinance. Her vision for the Economic Empowerment Group is for women to be able to access the resources they need to “oil the wheels of their leadership roles.”
Chibairo | Zimbabwe
Leadership Community Champion
DudziroNhengu’s experience ranges from King College, London, to a market stall in Harare, and from editing fiction to researching gender, peace and security. The feminist spark that unites all this disparate energy was first lit at the African Gender Institute at the University of Cape Town where Dudziro (Chibairoon World Pulse)went for post-graduate studies. A six-month Kings College research fellowship on peace and security then fanned the flame and today Dudziro is passionately committed to ending discrimination and violence against women.
Facing survival challenges in a stagnant Zimbabwean economy, Dudziro found herself selling goods in an open market. She went on to organize market women and create space for them to tell their stories. Other moments have found her conducting research on violence against women, heading the Budding Writers Association of Zimbabwe, working as Programme Officer for the Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Centre and Network, and providing editorial assistance to academic and fiction publishers. Sheresides in Harare Zimbabwe and brings nearly 19 years of experience in development, human rights, and peace and security, with a focus on women’s empowerment and gender equality. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Managing Peace and Security in Africa at the Institute of Peace and Security Studies in Addis Ababa University.
“My interest in this role stems from my passion in growing a strong movement of empowered and critically conscious women who can work to develop themselves, their families, communities, and nations to inform egalitarianism,” says Dudziro. “I also want to see women-led societies in the whole world in the near future.”
She is proficient in Shona, English, and Ndebele, and anticipates receiving her master’s degree this June in Managing Peace and Security in Africa. Engaged in global and regional collaborations, Dudziro has worked with UN agencies, along with governmental and civic organizations. She is skilled at facilitating change processes and developing training curricula, and has experience running a training on Transformational Leadership for Women. She is also eager to share her writing and editing skills with other women and to use these skills to amplify women's voices across the globe.
Dudziro is motivated by feminist principles, love for womenfolk, and the desire to help create feminist-oriented knowledge for women's empowerment. She believes the World Pulse Leadership Group can become “a strong movement for empowered women, connecting the dots all over global spaces.”
Greengirl | NIGERIA
Leadership Community Champion
“I believe that together, we can take a journey of discovery, uncover our leadership, and create the kind of future we individually and collectively envision,” says Olanike Olugboji (Greengirl on World Pulse), a women's empowerment advocate and environmental activist from Kaduna, Nigeria. She is the program coordinator of Women Initiative for Sustainable Environment (WISE), a grassroots nonprofit organization that promotes constructive environmental ideals by empowering women through education, advocacy, and project implementation to become environmental stewards.
“I am very passionate about leadership development, movement building, and community organizing, as well as cross-cultural networking and partnering,” says Olanike.
“The leadership group stands to benefit from my understanding of leadership and volunteerism, community engagement experiences, and ability to inspire and motivate others.” To date, she has engaged more than 1000 grassroots women in her community in activities that focus on water and food security, forest conservation, and climate change. Olanike was a Voices of Our Future correspondent who was selected as a World Pulse LIVE 2014 speaker. She is an alumna of the Global Women’s Leadership Network (GWLN) and a thriving women’s digital empowerment advocate. She speaks Yoruba, Hausa, and English.
Olanike believes leadership is often misunderstood or abused in many sectors. For her, leadership is all about service. She believes effective leaders are made, not born. She credits her parents and role models like Wangari Maathai, and supportive networks likeGWLN and World Pulse,for the development of her own leadership skills over the years.
She envisions a safe, healthy, and just world where grassroots women are duly represented, and take the lead in natural resource governance.
“There is no doubt that the Leadership Group will be a space for me to learn, share, connect, build relationships, as well as inspire and also draw inspiration from other change leaders from around the world.”