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Making a difference globally!

The League of Women Voter's mission is to encourage the active and informed participation of citizens in their government. We share this mission with many civil society organizations around the world.

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This issue of the Voter highlights the "LWV in Action Globally." As you read the features in this issue, you will discover that the League has a history of global activity that goes back to its founders. Over the years, I have had the privilege to participate in the League's international work. Activities have included hosting visitors from Poland to the Connecticut LWV, conducting training in Bosnia, and working with League interns from countries in Africa and South America.

In mid-2005, the U.S. State Department invited me to be a Citizen Envoy under its Citizen-Connect Program. I was asked to conduct two weeks of workshops for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, and Seoul, Korea. Needless to say, I was honored to be invited, and I gladly accepted the assignment!

In fall 2005, I embarked on this mission. My first stop was Ulaanbaatar, where I had the privilege of meeting with politically active women brought together by the U.S. Ambassador to Mongolia, Pamela Slutz. I conducted workshops for local NGOs on how to build a grassroots movement, strengthen an NGO, create and build a coalition, and empower citizens to impact public policy.

In Seoul, I was astonished to be greeted with a huge banner on arrival at the campus of Ewha Women's University (a similar banner is in the photo below). I led workshops for local NGO leaders on the topics covered in Mongolia, and additional workshops on fundraising, leadership and women's political participation. I also gave several lectures on "Building Civic Participation" to students and professors at Ewha Women's University and Kyung Hee University.

This experience reminded me how hard NGOs around the world are working to improve their societies and engage their citizens in building and strengthening their democracies. I was also reminded of the League's uniqueness with respect to its grassroots structure and commitment to nonpartisanship. We have been and continue to be a model for so many citizen activists worldwide. It was an honor to be allowed to share my experiences and those of the League of Women Voters with our world neighbors.

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After this personally rewarding and energizing experience as a "citizen envoy," I returned with renewed commitment and enthusiasm for the work of the League. A strong, vibrant League of Women Voters is essential to the future of our own democracy. Keep up the great work!

BY KAY J. MAXWELL

LWVUS President
COPYRIGHT 2006 League of Women Voters
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2006, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:OUT FRONT
Author:Maxwell, Kay J.
Publication:National Voter
Date:Feb 1, 2006
Words:435
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