AWE Celebrates International Women’s Day

Written by Claire Rudinsky, a VSFS Intern with the U.S. Department of State. She is currently majoring in International Relations with a focus on Economics at the Joint Degree Programme with College of William & Mary and the University of St Andrews.

March is a busy time of year for the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) exchange program, which celebrates its five year anniversary in 2024. International Women’s Day, honored on March 8, is a time to reflect on the past five years and highlight some of the AWE-inspiring alumni who are making incredible impacts on their communities and around the world. 

AWE has undoubtedly seen a myriad of successful and powerful women through the program, but an often underappreciated aspect of their lives is their dedication to their families and ability to balance work and personal lives. Throughout the world, women handle the majority of responsibilities when it comes to childcare and household tasks, often on top of their own careers.  

In Uruguay, one AWE alumni, Ivana Azcue, centered her business Club De Mamis around supporting the mothers in her community by providing education and resources. With a variety of professionals available, her team provides activities, training, and workshops in subjects such as child development, healthcare, and mental health, all free of charge. 

“Being able to work in projects that generate social impact, thus contributing to improving society, is my main motivation. In particular, the possibility of sharing and transforming the lives of thousands of women, generating a network, inspires me everyday to work on developing and growing the project,” said Azcue.

Access to continued education can be one of the biggest obstacles for women entering or returning to the workforce. Club de Mamis reaches more than a thousand women each year, creating a space to support those who experience the joys and challenges of raising a family. As she hopes to expand her business, Azcue emphasized the importance of digitalization in order to reach more rural areas of Uruguay. Azcue’s participation in AWE taught her that other women were facing similar challenges and that together, they could rise above them. 

First Lady Jill Biden also noted the pressures that many women face during a 2022 address in Costa Rica. “Women had to fight for a seat at the table. They left their jobs and had to choose between taking care of the children and the careers that gave them economic freedom and a sense of  purpose.” 

In order to give women an avenue back into the workforce, AWE has provided financial and educational support and opportunities to an estimated 25,000 women in nearly 100 countries since 2019 to help them reach their full economic potential. By using DreamBuilder, a no-cost online learning platform created by Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management (ASU) and the Freeport-McMoRan Foundation, AWE participants are able to access a variety of classes that cover the fundamentals of business. Topics include marketing, financial management, product differentiation, and other skills essential to starting and maintaining a business.


On the other side of the globe, another AWE alumna, Dildora Hudaynazarova, has worked hard to find the right balance between spending time at her travel business and with her family. Ten years ago, D-Tour LLC was one of few women-led businesses in Uzbekistan. Today, Hudaynazarova has three different branches, operating in tourist planning, airline tickets, and international student applications, and has expanded into different locations throughout her country. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Hudaynazarova’s company came to a near complete stop, but with her introduction to the AWE program, she rediscovered her motivation and revitalized her approach towards business. In addition, she found strong support through her AWE mentor, who dealt with a very similar situation in terms of balancing business and family. 

“There has been a big pop-up in the amount of women working in business,” Hudaynazarova said. “I’m really happy to feel supported and not alone, I have a team now. As a woman, everything is a scale. One hand is our business, and the other hand is family and society.” 

Following her participation in AWE, Hudaynazarova focused on digitizing her business, which streamlined the time spent with each customer while also expanding her audience. Moreover, she was able to use her additional free time both with her family and in the pursuit of an IT certification. 

While taking care of a family is not directly counted in the economic strength of a country, the stability and promotion of the family is essential to the continual growth of a country. This invisible labor often comes at the expense of other aspects of women’s lives, such as a career. International Women’s Day serves as a reminder of the history of the women’s liberation and labor movements while also looking to the future of gender equality. 

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