On 30 November, our 8th Annual Women’s Empowerment Celebration took place virtually, drawing nearly 100 supporters. Attendees heard stories of accomplishment from women change makers. Whether creating a path for themselves or others out of poverty, women’s authenticity and powerful message of resiliency shone through.

Among the event’s highlights:

  • Host Maame Afon, an internationally acclaimed recording star and Chief Steward at Mindsets for Impactful Leadership & Transformation, set the tone. She performed “Rise,” a song she wrote celebrating the love, hope, and perseverance emblematic of our partners.
  • We met Rose Muthuri, chief program officer at Nairobi, Kenya-based RefuSHE. This nonprofit’s Artisan Collective apprenticeships will expand dramatically because of our support. More than 200 women will receive vocational training in tailoring, information technology, and construction. “We give girls skills to be able to compete and gain self-esteem, and financial independence to lead an abundant life,” said Rose.
  • Having earned her High School Equivalency Diploma and prepared for college through Grace Outreach programs, Ashkelon McCown will become the first person in her family to attend college. “I am light, a natural agent that stimulates sight and makes things visible,” said Ashkelon, a mother of two, describing her journey. UNFCU Foundation’s grant will provide training for 250 women in the Bronx, New York to similarly gain brighter futures.
  • We were transported to Uganda where Doreen Bateyunga, pre-production coordinator at Ubongo International, illuminated how multi-media education is transforming children’s education. An engaging program episode on financial literacy, sponsored by UNFCU Foundation, previewed at our celebration. In 2023, it will reach 32 million children across the African continent.

Our celebration also provided unique moments to connect with empowerment leaders.

Featured speaker Dr. Pearlette Ramos, with whom we virtually trekked Mount Kilimanjaro, galvanized our attention. She shared powerful insight from her first feature film underway, Three (Extra) Ordinary Women. UNFCU Foundation is pleased to sponsor the film’s production. The documentary speaks to hope, healing, and giving back. Pearlette also offered guidance on overcoming life’s “personal Kilimanjaros.”

Capping the event, Pamela Agnone, chairperson of the UNFCU Foundation, presented Melissa Kilby, executive director of Girl Up, with our 2022 Women’s Empowerment Award. A grassroots fundraising campaign became a global advocacy movement thanks to Melissa’s leadership. Girl Up’s 6,000 Clubs in 150 countries underscore the importance of partnerships. Given new skills, broader worldviews, and agency, young women can become a force for social and economic justice. We couldn’t be prouder of Melissa and Girl Up, one of our very first grant partners.

Most of all, we were honored to share these accomplishments with our supporters, who are making these stories possible. Watch the full video of the event: