Women’s International Networking Conference 2013
WIN (Women’s International Networking) is an independent global women’s leadership organization that inspires women worldwide and envisions to empower, develop and connect leaders through a feminine, authentic and global vision. The organization's goal is to promote potential, evoke change to authenticity, and raise feminine and global awareness to create a sustainable future. At the WIN conference Japan this year, Sarajean Rossitto, former VP of FEW, joined other influential women leaders from around the world to talk about women’s rights.
No stranger to the subject, Sarajean facilitates skills trainings for Temple University Japan Campus’s NGO Certificate program, various JICA international development programs, and Tsuda International Training Program, as well as teaching the basics of NGOs at Sophia University. She has been the Tokyo-based adviser to Give2Asia’s Tohoku Recovery Fund since March 2011. From 2013, she will coordinate the Asian Rural Institute’s 40th anniversary assessment project—and those are just some of the things she does!
Sarajean is obviously a doer—a woman who likes to get things done—and that is her main reason for supporting WIN Japan. She endorses it as a platform not just for talking and sharing obstacles women face, but for strategizing and creating solutions. It is a place where influential and successful women leaders come together to inspire, support and deliver better outcomes for other women.
On being asked to make a statement on women’s leadership to the world, Sarajean insightfully states, “Being a woman leader is first knowing that you are equal. I do not think most women know that.” This is a simple truth with which women around the globe will identify and perhaps need to confront before truly evolving as leaders.
Breaking down and rebuilding timeless gender biases is a tall task for any woman anywhere in the world, but it is possible and it is being done. WIN hopes to accelerate that change by working at the grassroots level. Sarajean feels that true resolution to conflicts will only come when everyone has their rightful place around the table—men and women alike.
While an event like WIN Japan is aimed at enabling successful women to help others fulfill their potential, even established female leaders like Sarajean stand to gain. She says participating boosted her own self-confidence, as she was able to measure herself against other speakers and realized how similar women leaders around the globe are.
The theme for the conference this year was “taking the next step,” and by the end of the conference Sarajean felt it was her time to step up, start supporting other women and be a mentor.
Her next step was to speak at the international WIN conference in Prague last month. She believes women can assist each other in the achieving targets, while remaining true to themselves and not leaving others behind. She feels leadership skills programs are often very competitive and do not build enough trust—but that is the “traditional,” or male dominated, leadership style. The conference theme is more about servant leadership—leading by serving the needs of others, leading by listening, and following first before leading.
Sarajean also focuses on women’s role in disaster management. She feels that by actively including women in each phase of disaster management, women will not only be empowered, but impacts of future disasters will also be mitigated. This means more than including women in numbers but also including women as members of society with roles that are often different from those of men. Women are often included only as mothers, but ignored in the areas of infrastructure and economic redevelopment. She will use real examples from Tohoku to illustrate how women are the key to redevelopment of not just families and communities, but the future of the economy.