The programme has been designed for the greatest impact, having senior managers’ heavy work schedule in mind offering 5 modules spread over 3 months.
In this interview, Dr. Leslie Groves-Williams; Programme Director and Mentor, and Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen; Programme Mentor talk about the importance of gender-responsive leadership in achieving and sustaining organisational change towards gender equality.
UNOV/UNODC Gender Team: Why did you start this programme and why do you think it is important, especially in a UN-system organization?
Dr. Leslie Groves-Williams: Member State and UN commitments to gender equality are clear and numerous. Organisational leaders play a pivotal role in driving their organization’s contributions to gender equality and women’s rights. They have the responsibility and authority to initiate and sustain organisational change towards gender equality.
Leaders are aware that they need to step up in the current climate. They know that SDG 5 is the one that is least likely to be met. In fact, they are seeing that hard-fought gains for gender equality and women’s rights are under threat. Some have even been reversed. War and violence, the global climate crisis, pandemics, and widening inequalities within and between countries are severely reducing progress on gender equality as well as women’s and girls’ access to basic rights.
We initially started this gender responsive leadership programme with the Swedish government agency for peace, security and development - the Folke Bernadotte Academy to respond to a growing request from leaders. The request was to enhance their leadership toolbox so they can ensure their organisation is integrating a gender equality approach across all activities and developing targeted actions for women's rights, where required.
I am a long-term supporter of UNOV/UNODC's work, having supported the organisation to develop its first ever Gender Strategy (2018-2021) as well as its current strategy (2022-2026). The current strategy places a number of important commitments at the door of the organisation's leaders. It therefore felt only right that we support these leaders with their task. Hence the implementation of this tailored UNOV/UNODC gender responsive leadership programme.
UNOV/UNODC Gender Team: What are you hoping to achieve at the end of the programme?
Dr. Leslie Groves-Williams: By the end of this programme, participants will have a personal gender responsive leadership action plan. This will be based on strategic UNOV/UNODC organisational commitments and will be tailored to their specific operating context. They will have stronger skills to:
lead by example for gender equality
set achievable yet ambitious gender equality priorities and targets
communicate clearly and convincingly for gender equality and women's rights
manage staff, resources and activities so they contribute to gender equality and
hold themselves and their personnel to account for meeting gender equality targets.
In addition, they will leave the programme with a strong network of peers, with whom they can share and hopefully then scale up good practices.
UNOV/UNODC Gender Team: What is your leadership motivation?
Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen: Equal rights between men and women is a fundamental principle in the UN Charter. The United Nations is also the birthplace of the Convention to end Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) which has been ratified by 189 sovereign states. As a multilateralist, feminist and human rights champion, I believe the UN must lead by example on gender equality in everything it does to uphold the legitimacy and credibility of the institution. My personal leadership motivation comes from the many leaders I have worked with who want to make a difference on women’s rights, but simply don’t have the time and toolbox to do so consistently. GRL training is a fantastic tool to kick-start personal and organisational transformation.
*The gender-responsive leadership programme was designed by Leslie Groves-Williams and the Folke Bernadotte Academy – Swedish agency for peace, security and development. We are grateful to the Folke Bernadotte Academy for their kind permission to use the programme materials. The programme was adapted to UNOV/UNODC by the UNOV/UNODC Gender Team.
For more information on UNODC’s work on gender: