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Geneva Gender Champions and breaking down gender barriers

Greetings from Geneva, Switzerland!

Caitlin Kraft-Buchman will be a panelist on Day 2 of Power Shift

Caitlin Kraft-Buchman, our guest blogger, will be a panelist on the session ‘Starting at the Top’, on Day 2 of Power Shift

Where we have managed to diminish, if not quite abolish, the #manel – all male panel – and mobilize 98+ Geneva Gender Champions, a network of men and women leaders working together to break down gender barriers from the Directors General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), International Labor Organization (ILO), World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), World Health Organization (WHO), the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and High Commissioner for Refugees, Ambassadors from Chile, China, Canada to Turkey, Uruguay, Viet Nam to promise to:

  1. No longer sit or speak on same sex panels, and

  2. Make, publish, and report on two additional results-oriented time-based commitments to further gender equality either internally in their organizations and/or externally in their outward facing work.

We are incredibly excited to be sharing the Geneva Gender Champions with the Power Shift Forum on Women and Leadership in Georgetown on May 4 and 5.

For those of you who don’t know, International Geneva is uniquely placed for Gender Champion work as it is home to a strategic resource of global policy makers, international organizations, and civil society responsible for the large part of the work implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that have officially been embraced as the global agenda to 2030. International Geneva is home to the United Nations Office in Geneva; Ambassadors from every country; the International Organizations themselves and many unheralded others; decision makers; policy makers; negotiators; diplomats; the business community; academics; thinkers; and especially leading members of civil society from all disciplines that together comprise the interdependent pieces of society that make us vibrant and thrive. So we are extremely proud that Geneva Gender Champions has a tri-partite structure driven by three equal partners leading the charge: the United Nations Office in Geneva, led by a visionary Director- General Michael Møller, the Ambassadors led by dynamic, inclusive U.S. Ambassador Pamela Hamamoto, and civil society led by a determined Women@TheTable.

We launched the Geneva Gender Champions on July 1, less than a year ago, after asking how to harness world class research, good will, burning necessity, and Zeitgeist to focus on the gender equality question in a way that might truly move the needle for change.

Much to our delight and surprise we catalyzed the gender equality conversation in our international city, created high level personal focus and excitement around the issue, and mobilized a new silo-busting community thrilled to be working alongside others from different disciplines and missions across the geographic and political spectrum. We wanted to create an inclusive movement for change in our own backyard. And seem to have begun that.

The heart and soul of our group commitment became the Geneva Gender Panel Parity Pledge where each of our Gender Champions promises to have both genders represented on any panel on which they participate. An integral part is that every Champion is encouraged to have a list of dynamic knowledgeable (brilliant!) people of the opposite sex who can speak eloquently to the panel themes, making the Champions themselves champions for others as well as for change. The GGC Panel Parity Pledge has already begun to change the complexion of panels in Geneva and elsewhere.

We are told no male Champion has had to forego a speaking engagement since they took the GGC Panel Parity Pledge. Evidently, when Champions and their staff alert panel organizers that Champions have pledged to forego all male panels, EVERY Champion in our network got a response within 24 hours to remedy the situation when a panel was previously all male. Would that all change is so simple! (We are seeking to evaluate this impact in a measurement scheme; more back on this soon.)

But the Champions are so much more. Champions also make two additional individual commitments for themselves and their institutions from the UK commitment to become a gender champion in the UK government’s overseas network, expanding the Champions’ network to at least 5 other posts or departments; to France‘s pledge to support resolutions of the Human Rights Council strengthening gender equality, provided the language is ambitious enough; the International Labour Organization (ILO)’s global survey and research on the situation of women in the world of work to identify aspirations obstacles and action; the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)’s commitment to encourage gender balance among delegates attending ITU conferences and to track and publish those numbers of female delegates attending; the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) commitment to ensure that at least 30% participants in IPU Assemblies are women (and that all decisions making structures of the IPU comprise a minimum of 30% women by 2017 and reach 40% by 2020), Ireland‘s ensuring strong participation by men in debates and events on gender related issues; the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) creation of a Gender Equality Seal for the Union by the end of 2016; the World Health Organization gender equality and human rights e-learning series on mainstreaming competencies launched with 80% of new HQ level staff having completed the module by September 2016; Plan International enrolling all staff members regardless of their function in the Planting Equality Training by Dec 2016; Switzerland‘s improving by 10 points the percentage of women in management level at the Permanent Mission by Sept 1 2016; UN International Computing Centre (UNICC)’s creation of a gender equality policy to change the current 2:1 ratio of contractors; UN Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) developing a checklist on gender-sensitive disaster risk reduction; UNAIDS commitment to the implementation of the UNAIDS Gender Action Plan which goes beyond numeric targets to increase the number of women in leadership positions; to the High Commissioner of Human Rights commitment to meet with at least one women’s organization or woman human rights defender in each of his field visits. See the rest of the commitments here.

We’re working collaboratively for impact, enlisting International Organizations big and small; Ambassadors and their Missions from East and West, South and North; civil society from one person NGOs to the largest International NGOs; Academia; and our first corporate sistren and brethren. We’re trying to move the needle.

Talk to us next year and let’s see how much we have changed. And let’s see if we don’t have a few sister cities joining us in the hard work and celebration of gender equality.

#GVAGenderChamps: #gender equality is a #human potential issue

Caitlin Kraft-Buchman is the Founder and CEO of Women@TheTable, based in Geneva, Switzerland, created one year ago to support, propel, and scale international leaders who articulate the need for equal numbers of women @decision-making tables everywhere, with particular focus on governance, the economy, technology, education, sustainability and peace.

Caitlin will be a panel member at the Power Shift Forum for Women in the World Economy, which will happen at Georgetown University on May 4 and 5.  The other panelists  on the session ‘Starting at the Top’ are Stéphane Dubois and Kalpana Kochhar.   To further awareness of these and other issues regarding women’s empowerment, please share out #PowerShiftForum.

Tickets are now SOLD OUT and registration for Power Shift 2016 is now closed. For interest in Power Shift 2017, please fill out the form on Information about next year’s forum will be announced in due course.


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