Last Thursday, the 25th of July, the ChangemakHERS community had its third meeting of the Fellows’ Huddles series: Building Solutions. Huddles are online monthly meetings, focused on one Fellow each. The idea is that the Fellow would start by sharing her story, talking about her work, or a problem she's facing, and inviting ideas from other women Ashoka Fellows and those in the Ashoka Network.
The July Huddle was led by Ashoka Fellow Daniela Gutiérrez, and joined by 6 other people from across the world, including Romania, Egypt, USA, and South Korea. Daniela’s main topic was about how we can advance gender equality at the state and institutional level. Sharing a problem she personally faces along with her organisation in Bolivia, Daniela explained how some of the policies and infrastructure set by state mechanisms and institutions to enhance gender equality are slow, often counter-productive, and do not really leave room for women’s voices. Daniela reckons this is because such institutions and mechanisms are still solely led by men who have different experiences and perspectives than women, and hence are not able to cater for women’s needs.
The group discussed whether this is a unique problem to Bolivia or if others face the same issue in their countries. Similarities were drawn between Bolivia and Egypt where very few numbers of women hold positions of leadership. Likewise, others pointed out the resemblance in male-dominated leadership between South Korea and Bolevia. Daniela opened the discussion on possible solutions to this problem, inviting many ideas from the group.
One participant suggested having a quota in leadership positions for women. This would ensure that both the voices and needs of women are heard and catered for respectively. Other suggestions included increasing the visibility of women leaders or women with leadership potentials – this could be done through mapping qualified women and later supporting them to take on their leadership roles. Journalism that focuses and highlights women issues in order to raise awareness was also proposed. Additionally, training young women to be future leaders and decision-makers through various programs that would empower them and give them more confidence in their leadership abilities. Finally, working with both men and women to change mindsets and perceptions towards female leadership to become more positive and encouraged. A participant pointed out that a similar solution has been implemented in Mozambique, where she worked as part of an Ashoka fellow’s organisation. She has thus connected Daniela to this organisation for potential collaborations or simply inspiration. Daniela welcomed these solutions to empower women leadership, and said she hopes she would see more improvements in Bolevia on that front.
The Huddle has shown how successful results are yielded through bringing together influential women Fellows and those part of the Ashoka network.
To watch the full 1-hour Huddle, follow this link: https://zoom.us/recording/play/B89aFwspgr04xQholTNMpfLZKlfm8GD2fPxGJZfHNo_ukiL4IFPM4fVM3maE1z0-?autoplay=true
Stay tuned for more information on the August Huddle, with Ashoka Fellow Greta Ríos. More information about the Zoom link will be posted soon!