Gender Team: What are some of the changes and progress you have seen in terms of promoting gender equality since the adoption of the first UNOV/UNODC Gender Mainstreaming Strategy? Are there any moments and achievements that stand out?
Cristina Albertin: The most important change for me since the adoption of the first UNODC/UNOV Gender Strategy is that gender has now become a visible corporate mandate with concrete goals and targets for everybody working in UNOV/UNODC. Gender mainstreaming or gender equality is not any more parked in a corner for enthusiastic individuals or convinced volunteers. It is now clear that gender is an integral part for UNOV/UNODC’s mission and as a leader and a manager I can use this Strategy in my work with my entire team.
Gender Team: What do you think are the next big steps towards closing the gender gap in the work that your Regional Office does and where would you like to be in 2026 in terms of gender equality?
Cristina Albertin: We have not yet reached gender parity at different levels and closing this gap must remain an ambition until 2026. I am proud to say that at ROMENA 56 per cent of personnel are women, ahead of the overall UNODC statistics! This is most visible in the middle -management positions, where we have reached gender parity with slightly more women. However, we currently have a gap for women at the P2 and at P4 levels.
A great programmatic challenge in our region is involving female criminal justice officials in our capacity-building work. In many of the countries in the MENA region, there are few women in the different professional groups of the criminal justice chain, including police officers, prosecutors, judges, forensic doctors and prison staff. However, we need more women in the criminal justice system to be able to deliver services and justice for women with a victim-centered approach. We need to work more vigorously on initiatives which can empower and support women in taking up such professions and we need to advocate with Governments for change in policies and practices which do not allow nor facilitate the entry of women in criminal justice work. I have recently learnt about some impactful initiatives by other UNODC offices, and I want to see how we can apply these in ROMENA.
Gender Team: How do you view the role of leadership in successfully promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment in UNOV/UNODC’s work and its working environment?
Cristina Albertin: I firmly believe that leadership is important. We now have an Executive Director who is dedicated and committed to women’s empowerment and gender equality. It makes a difference to see leadership and engagement systematically cascade throughout the organization in various workstreams and in the workplace. It is especially important when women join the organization and we can make an even bigger difference when men engage more in gender equality and women’s empowerment issues. However, leadership cannot be limited only to the top. Everybody who leads a team has to embrace the gender goals and within the UN leadership understanding, we all lead on UN values and common goals and that includes gender equality. Therefore, commitment to gender is a milestone and performance indicator for all our managers and programme staff at ROMENA.