LeaderNet: A platform for voices from the field

Belkis Giorgis

Senior Technical Advisor for Gender and Capacity Building

Different perspectives are needed when discussing global concerns and some of the most effective ideas can come from collaboration and dialogue. The Leadership, Management & Governance (LMG) Project united multiple voices on the topic of “Women in Leadership: Engaging the Next Generation,” by hosting a four-day webinar on LeaderNet from March 17-20. Participants from 19 different countries contributed to finding solutions to the low rates of women in leadership positions and how to engage youth to influence health outcomes. It was clear from the discussions that participants see a large gap in the representation of women in leadership positions, here’s what they had to say:

The media has a large impact in reinforcing the stereotype of leadership being a solely male trait, participants observed and called for a shift not only in the media portrayal of women, but in the home, schools, and workplaces. Naledi Kaote-Mogae from Botswana said, “I think the main obstacle is our cultural way of bringing up the girl child, [for example] the chores are gender based. If we can empower young girls from an early age, that will help groom them for taking up leadership roles when they grow up.” 

“The media is a powerful player in the promotion or otherwise of gender equality worldwide.” Betty Sharon from Kenya remarked. “Media representations of women have great impact on how women are viewed by the society and how they view themselves. Media should focus on women’s competence and achievements as leaders and professionals by airing programs which represents their ability, contributions, and advancements.”

Mentoring was proposed as an appropriate mechanism to help women and girls into leadership positions. Milasara Evance from Nigeria said:  “Mentoring helps the ‘mentee’ become more proficient at their job, it is good for the mentor to ‘give back’ by sharing wisdom, and it helps companies by developing well-rounded, knowledgeable professionals, in this case young women!”

Many participants recognized the connection of including youth in the decision making process and more responsive health care interventions that address the needs of youth. Georges Ntumba from the United States said:  “Young people bring energy, challenge, and eagerness to change, transform, and create innovation in the prevailing beliefs, practices, knowledge and attitudes.”

This discussion made evident that “Women and Leadership” is not a simple issue, but one that involves many overlapping problems, solutions and viewpoints.  One lesson from this seminar is that a global dialogue needs to continue. Innovative solutions can come from the most unlikely sources; people just need to a platform to express ideas and be heard.

Photo Credit: Rui Pires