There are still inadequate numbers of women in positions of power in government, health, the corporate world, and notably, in the international non-governmental organization sector.
For a sector that purports to be committed to empowering women and girls as critical to sustainable development, the lack of women in leadership positions at a grassroots level means that the voices of the very groups with the deepest understanding of development issues are the most marginalised.
Key decisions that govern society, economic policy, health systems, and human rights lack the voices and perspectives of women, who are at the same time disproportionately impacted by harmful policies that increase the economic burden on communities and reduce basic human rights. To that end, we must do more to create pipelines of women leaders both for today and tomorrow, by actively coaching and promoting women in the organisations in which we work.
To increase women’s leadership in this space, we have three demands.
Leaders and policy-makers must ensure social mobility agendas incorporate the perspectives, views and lived experiences of those for whom they seek to address.
We must include consideration of intersectionalities when responding to or planning gender focused programmes.
The development sector must move away from patriarchal and paternalistic approaches to young women’s leadership.
Pay young women in this space. Accept young women as leaders now, not in a decade. In this way, we can instil the confidence to lead in our next generation of women and girls, and support them to advance globally.
As individual leaders in this space, we must identify the actions we can take to mentor, champion and support women in this space.
This includes reflective practice and introspection about the ways we have internalised the leadership styles that hold women back, and putting other women forward for opportunities that we might receive to share space.