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Drogheda Credit Union #ChooseToChallenge

Community 2 min read

11 Mar 2021

This week we are celebrating the countless women who are involved in the credit union movement and recognising the focal roles they play in credit unions around the island of Ireland.

We spoke to Geraldine Gilsenan, Chairperson of the Board of Directors and Sarah McGee, Assistant Manager & Risk and Compliance Manager both from Drogheda Credit Union.

Our analysis of a sample of 190 credit unions revealed that 30% of chairs and 35% of vice-chairs were women. We asked Geraldine why she thought there was such a high level of female involvement in key positions within the movement and how she first got involved?
Geraldine: “The movement is open to gender equality and strives to be inclusive. Values are central to how we live our lives. The central values of a credit union is based on integrity, mutual respect, growth and development supports and empowers women to take leadership roles.”
“I was approached by a Board Director to join the Board of Directors of St. Loman’s Trim Credit Union in 1996 and was assured that I had only to attend one meeting a month.   My interest, commitment, and enthusiasm for the credit union movement and what it stands for has not waivered. It is a calling - a call to action.”

Sarah acknowledges that this year’s International Women’s Day theme #ChooseToChallenge is of particular significance

Sarah: “I believe the theme #ChooseToChallenge is very meaningful for the credit union movement. Credit unions compare very positively with other organisations in terms of women in leadership positions and this should be celebrated.”

“I believe women are drawn to the community focus of the credit union and the desire to make a difference in their local communities.”

Both Geraldine and Sarah spoke about the community spirit of credit unions and what a significant factor it was in attracting them to get involved with the credit union movement.

Geraldine: “The co-operative spirit which is founded on the philosophy of “people helping people” and dedicated to building better lives for people is empowering. Volunteering has enhanced my personal development.  It allows me to make a difference, to give something back to my community.”

Sarah: I had a background working within the financial services sector. I was seeking an opportunity in a more community focused organisation based in my own locality where I felt I could use my existing skills and qualifications in an organisation where I believed in the ethos and could see the benefit of the engagement in the community at all levels from schools to local sponsorships and donations. “ 

“I was attracted by how the credit union is so involved in the local communities from school savings schemes and financial education to support of local sports clubs, organisations supporting the elderly and many more. Credit Unions are also governed by a volunteer board who are all members of the local community in the common bond. Credit unions are engrained in their local communities and this is what makes them special.”

Geraldine stated what she thought was so special about working for the credit union “The opportunity to work with a diverse group of people, pooling their expertise and skill sets which in turn builds the social capital (connections among people) in the communities in which we operate.”

Our final question to Geraldine and Sarah was to ask them what is the most important message they wanted to send out to women?

Sarah: “I believe women should strive to achieve whatever their goals are in life and ask for support along the way where required to help them get there. Women have a unique view and representation of women at all levels is so important. I think we should be proud that the credit union are leaders in this field with high levels of participation by women in key positions. This is something that should be celebrated and encouraged in the future development of the sector.” 

Geraldine: “Be confident, strive and you can make a difference.”
Join us today as a member or volunteer, and know you’ll be part of the fabric of your local community, and a movement who celebrates gender diversity and inclusion!