International Women’s Day 2014: What we can do now

(Centred)InternationalWomensDay pdf1Every year the world celebrates International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8th. This Day is not just an extension of Mother’s day or Valentine’s Day where men can express love for women, but a serious event to draw attention to inequality. As gender inequality is likely the greatest inequality globally it is a good time for women, men and children to reflect on the causes and how we all might address it.
The first national Women’s Day was observed in 1909 in the United States after which an International Women’s Conference was organized in Denmark in 1910. But it was not until the year ICRAF was founded, in 1977, when it became truly global with the UN General assembly proclaiming March 8th as IWD.
The theme for this year’s IWD is “Inspiring Change” which is relevant for us both inside our organisation and outside in our research, policy and development work. As a science organisation we should ask the questions of why, what, where and how?

ICRAF management remains committed to gender, diversity and inclusion and we have adopted inclusiveness as one of our key organizational values in our refreshed strategy. We are working towards a desirable gender balance at all levels in our organization while providing equal opportunity to staff for personal and career advancement. We are developing a new policy on gender, diversity and inclusion that articulates our gender goals, targets and practices.

Here are some things we can all do immediately inside our organisation:
1. Ensure zero tolerance of language or behaviours that discriminate against women or other groups
2. Encourage contributions in meetings and other fora of both sexes
3. Value more some of the softer skills that women often portray better than men but which have traditionally been ignored in hiring, leadership, promotion, pay, etc.
4. Review our publications and communications to ensure we are not gender blind nor gender disadvantaging
5. Monitor during recruitment and training that gender has been substantially taken in consideration
6. Foster good gender mixes in teams, avoiding gender segregation of teams or jobs
7. Check list of invitees to meetings to promote good gender balance
8. Avoid trivializing or just paying lip service to gender with sound gender equality planning and policies
9. Support flexi- work times and practices for mothers (and fathers) with young children
10. Evaluate where we all benchmark now, set some goals and in a year’s time see how well we have advanced

And things we can do in our research include:
• Do we have specific gender results in our theories of change?
• Do keep gender disaggregated data?
• Do we pay enough attention to M&E aspects of gender?
• Are we being sure not to alienate men, as often it is about family and not just targeting the man or the woman? (gender synergy)
• Do we have sufficient gender experts on our teams (staff and partners)?
• Are we prioritising allocations for gender research in proposals?
• Do we track gender research expenditures well to report on it (Consortium is targeting a minimum of 10%)
• Are we communicating sufficiently on gender research matters?

On behalf of the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) Board and Management, I would like to extend deepest appreciation to all of our women staff members for the commitment, dedication and contributions you continue to make to the mission of the World Agroforestry Centre.
Addressing gender inequality is a job for us all!'

Tony Simons

Tony Simons is the Director General of the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). He has worked 27 years on issues at the tropical agriculture/forestry interface, within the private sector (Shell Forestry); academia (University of Oxford); official development assistance (ODA/DFID); and research (CGIAR). He holds degrees from Massey University and Cambridge University, and an Honorary Professorship in Tropical Forestry at the University of Copenhagen, and has published over 100 research papers. Tony is passionate about the transformative change that the private sector can bring to development.

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