Katie Ward, a Class of 2006 graduate from the College of Liberal Studies (CLS), was invited by the Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women to speak to women visiting from Afghanistan and Rwanda on July 23rd about service and advocacy activities she participates in which helps advance the status of women locally and worldwide.
Established in 2006 by Dr. Terry Neese, the Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women (IEEW), based in Oklahoma City, is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that encourages the empowerment of women economically, politically and socially by focusing on their education and mentorship. The IEEW strives to help women in the United States and abroad who want to gain entrepreneurial skills that will help them start and grow a business, which will, in turn, help them to become more active and effective public policy advocates. Working on the forefront of these efforts, the IEEW believes in the power of women as a driving force in the development and stability of businesses in emerging economies. Through its dedication, hard work and PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS® program, the IEEW helps provide women with a voice in their fight to establish peace and free market economies.
While in the United States for the International Women’s Economic Summit, students of the PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS® program attended IEEW’s annual fundraiser, a fashion show called “Jewel”, where Katie spoke with the students about her volunteer organization, Zonta Club of Central Oklahoma as well as her work for the United States Air Force, emphasizing her support for the warfighter and the mission of the Air Force. One student from Afghanistan told Katie was “very grateful” for the U.S. soldiers being in her country protecting her family, employees, and herself from the Taliban.
Katie spoke with the students from Rwanda about Zonta International, the international organization for which the local club Zonta Club of Central Oklahoma falls under. She told students that Zonta International, in cooperation with UNICEF, provides programs focused on the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV Infection as well as the prevention and response to survivors of domestic and gender-based violence in Rwanda. Katie learned from one student from Rwanda the hardship she faced during and after the genocide that ended in 1994.
Specifically addressing the Afghan students, Katie informed them that Zonta has supported UNICEF’s maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT) immunization efforts in Afghanistan.
On Wednesday, July 24th, Katie was invited by IEEW to a roundtable discussion with Governor Mary Fallin at the Capitol where Governor Fallin spoke with Dr. Neese and the students in the PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS® program. Katie had the opportunity to speak with Governor Fallin about Katie’s volunteering efforts with Zonta. Katie told Governor Fallin that 1/3 of Zonta Club of Central Oklahoma’s service funds raised each year goes to Zonta International, who in turn works with agencies of the United Nations providing assistance to women in developing countries such as Rwanda and Afghanistan improve their legal, political, economic, educational, and health status.
Update: The College of Liberal Studies was renamed the College of Professional and Continuing Studies in 2017.