Women’s Economic Empowerment in Post-Conflict and Ongoing Peacebuilding

Zoe Dean-Smith, Senior Director, Global Programs

I am thrilled to announce that next week on May 12, the Global Ambassadors Program heads to Belfast, Northern Ireland, for the start of a week-long mentoring forum pairing extraordinary women leaders for mentorship opportunities.

This trip will focus on women’s leadership and economic advancement in countries classified as ‘post-conflict,’ ‘in-conflict’ or ‘ongoing peacebuilding,’ and we’ve selected eight incredible women leading organizations and businesses ranging from tourism, healthcare, youth empowerment and the arts in Rwanda, Lebanon, Libya, Indonesia, Somalia, Palestine, Northern Ireland, and Croatia.

Matched with eight accomplished global women leaders in banking, retail, international development, peace and reconciliation, and the U.S. military, mentees and their Global Ambassadors will explore the power and potential that peacebuilding provides for furthering the economic empowerment of women business leaders and increasing women’s economic opportunities.

This is an area close to my heart. Having been involved in social enterprise and working with extraordinary women around the world for a number of years, I have witnessed just how quickly small and medium sized women-driven businesses and organizations can be created or rebuilt when those same fiercely determined women have a need or a vision for a better future.

Rwanda is a perfect example of a country where, soon after the genocide, women stepped up to the plate and are now making great strides in moving their country forward. We also know that, when given the opportunity, women often invest their money in businesses that benefit their local economies, which in turn contributes to stability.

In one-on-one and group mentoring sessions and through hands-on training sessions in strategic planning, financial management, communications and networking, participants will share experiences and lessons learned during the transition from conflict to peace to prosperity. Their connections throughout the week will build, laying a critical foundation for ongoing exchange and learning long after they leave Belfast.

When I think about the power of this very special and unique mentoring opportunity and the eight Global Ambassadors who have committed to standing behind and supporting and guiding their mentees, I know that each mentee will return home with renewed energy, vision and commitment to continue being a co-creator of her country’s growing economy.

Global Ambassadors and mentees will also have an opportunity to participate in the International Business Women’s Conference (IBWC), organized by Women In Business Northern Ireland (WIBNI). They’ll take part in a Networking Walk alongside business and social leaders from around the world who have convened for the IBWC, widening their circles of influence and sharing new ways to tackle common problems.

Follow along next week as we blog from Northern Ireland. You’ll hear from mentors and mentees directly about what they hope to learn as part of the Global Ambassadors Program. Stay tuned!

Meet the participants:

Global Ambassadors


Eleanor “Tabi” Heller Jordan
President & CEO, The Paradigm Forum, Switzerland

Najah Jaroush Abdouni
Owner/Director, Tassamim, Lebanon

Geraldine McAteer
CEO, West Belfast Partnership Board, Northern Ireland

Nisreen S. Musleh
Managing Director, Ritaj, Palestine

Ibukun Awosika
Founder & CEO, The Chair Centre Group, Nigeria

Nurlan Silitonga
Director, Angsamerah Institution, Indonesia 

Katy Knox
Retail Banking & Distribution Executive, Bank of America, USA

Carol Fitzsimons
CEO, Young Enterprise Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland 

Maj. Gen. Sharon Dunbar
Commander, US Air Force, USA

Omnia Eteyari
Co-Founder/CEO, Masadah for Training & Development, Libya

Kathleen Holland
Founding Partner, KMH Associates

Gaella Alexandra Gottwald
Director, Croatian Association of Artists, Croatia 

Samar Haj Hassan
Founder/Manager, Mahara, Jordan

Rosette Chantal Rugamba 
Managing Director, Songa Africa & Tourism Company, Rwanda

Susan Thrasher
Chief Fulfillment & Service Executive, Bank of America, USA

Dr. Deqo Aden Mohamed 
CEO, Dr. Hawa Abdi Foundation, Somalia  

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