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?
John Brandolino:I have seen several very positive developments since the launch of the first Gender Strategy. The first development that comes to my mind is the composition of our staff at UNODC. Thanks to the whole organisation's increased and collective efforts, we have seen a clear increase in the number of women in positions and at levels where we did not have parity before.
We have also been ensuring that gender mainstreaming is part of our programming, especially in the area of empowering women, not just looking at women as victims of crime and how crime effects women - but also making sure that the empowerment of women is part of policy solutions. Our efforts in achieving this is especially evident with the development of women's networks such as with out Container Control Programme and GLO.ACT programme.
You can also see developments in the division's work on intergovernmental processes. For example, in the cybercrime negotiations there is now a mandate where we take into account gender balance in events involving collaboration with stakeholders. These things would have not been done in the past, partially because there was a lack of awareness, but we have now created an environment where people speak more freely about such issues.
An achievement that really stands out to me is when we worked with the Justice Integrity Network. During one of our conferences in early 2020, the Qatari government committed to increasing the number of women in their own judiciary and eventuall became champions on this issue - they even proposed and finalised a General Assembly resolution on increasing female representation in the judiciary and creating an International Day of Women Judges.
Gender Team: What do you think are the next big steps towards closing the gender gap in the work that your Divsion does and where would you like to be in 2026 in terms of gender equality?
John Brandolino: When reflecting on the general areas that I have mentioned above, there are many developments that I am hoping to see in the next four years. I think that in terms of staff, the Division for Treaty Affairs is performing very well as we have a high number of women in senior management positions at 60 or more percent. That being said, I would like to see an increase at the P4 and P5 levels.
In terms of programming, I would like to see people become more active in ensuring the empowerment of women in all of our policies and programmes, this is something to push forward in the years to come, and provide a space with inspiring examples. In the area of our intergovernmental work, there is a lot that still can be done. We are still facing general reluctance by some Member States to raise and address gender equality and women's empowerment issues. However, the more we talk about the subject, the closer we are to achieving real change.
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?
John Brandolino: It has become a natural part of my career to deal with these issues. Some of my greatest mentors, peers and sources of information are women, and I have been lucky to work in environments where these issues are acknowledged and viewed as important. As managers, we should not only promote gender mainstreaming practices, but we should also have constructive discussions on how to move these priorities forward and how we can more effectively include them in our activities. Ultimately, I would like to see programme managers reach an automatic comfort level with gender equality issues, commitments and goals.
I do believe that we are doing a good job. The creating of the Gender Team has made a big difference and has set a precedent. But there is still a lot more that can be done and we need to include all managers in this process and ensure that they are onboard.