The Gender Strategy of UNOV/UNODC recognises that gender equality cannot be reached without the engagement of men and boys, who can act as champions and agents of change. Nevertheless, Anne Aulinger, Associate Programme Officer, UNOV/UNODC Gender Team, emphasises that “currently, it is overwhelmingly women who are engaged in driving gender equality and women and girls’ empowerment efforts”.
Therefore, as Anne points out, “this initiative intends to activate men who are already motivated to be even more engaged and to raise awareness on how gender stereotypes and patriarchal structures have a negative impact not only on the society as a whole but also on men and boys”. Vanessa Holtze, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Coordinator, UNOV/UNODC HRMS, highlights that “the initiative also sought to engage those men who are less involved in institutional activities in this area. Our goal is to listen to them and learn how our work can be even more engaging for everyone”.
In order to actively engage men, the initiative adopted the design thinking methodology, which “helps us to gain a deeper understanding of the way men see gender equality and the empowerment of women and how they see their own role in it”, Vanessa notes. This innovative methodology aims to first listen and empathise with the target group, in this case male personnel at UNOV/UNODC, to fully understand the difficulties they face, which hinder them from proactively participating in our efforts to advance gender equality.
After having analysed and consolidated the findings of the initial interviews, two ideation workshops with male personnel from both Field Offices and Headquarters were held to design creative solutions in order to overcome the challenges that the men expressed during the interviewing phase. Through some exercises, designed to enhance creativity, the participants developed several insightful and hands-on solutions. These entailed peer-to-peer activities to flip the common understanding of masculinity or informal meetings designed to foster a culture of understanding and support for parenting personnel and to eradicate the assumptions that see mothers as primary caregivers and, thus, the only ones justified to take parental leave.
In the next phase, all ideas that emerged during the workshops will be sorted by the Gender Team and HRMS, which will select the ones that are more feasible and impactful to inform existing initiatives and develop new ones. Coherently with the rationale underneath the whole initiative, the contribution of male colleagues will continue to represent a constituent element, as they will be included throughout the implementation in different forms, from providing continuous feedback to championing their own initiatives.
Anne underlines that “we are grateful for the time our male colleagues took to share their ideas and collaborate with other colleagues”.“I was amazed at how many new insights this approach brought to us. We hope to continue this great collaboration with our male colleagues, without whom we cannot meet our commitments on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women”, Vanessa points out.
Please stay tuned for further outreach to participate!