POSITIVE NEWS How an alliance of female leaders is helping close the gender gap
The Gender Alliance wants equality to be at the heart of the UN’s sustainable development goals. These five women are leading that drive
n December 2019, some 30 female leaders from across the globe gathered together in Mérida, Mexico. They came from fields as varied as cyber law, peacebuilding, human trafficking and education, and they were meeting to kick off a new initiative, the Gender Alliance.
The mission for the alliance’s members, who include men as well as women, is to pursue the UN’s sustainable development goal No. 5, on gender equality, within their own organisations and communities: speaking up on behalf of women and girls, and fighting for justice. Members come from a trio of organisations: the BMW Foundation Responsible Leaders Network, the Global Diplomacy Lab and the Robert Bosch Foundation.
Since the inaugural meeting, a self-organised, virtual summit has been held, with over 200 attending, and myriad collaborative projects have kicked off. These include a film-making fellowship for non-English speaking young women in India, and the development of a children’s video game which features African characters, in order to increase awareness of gender stereotyping. All the alliance members are contributing their time for free.
Here are snapshots of five of the women who are playing leading parts in this dynamic group.
The gender policy expert and children’s literacy advocate
In 2015, when newly appointed Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau announced plans to create a feminist government, gender policy expert Julie Smith was part of the team charged with making it happen. “At the time, there were only about six people in the policy group for the whole government of Canada,” she says. “It took a lot of heavy lifting very quickly to set up.”