Spread the love

Advancing Gender Equality: The Power of International Women’s Day

By Mia Zickerman-White


Invest in Women: Accelerating Progress

Every year on March 8th, International Women’s Day (IWD) recognises women’s achievements and contributions to the world, while also spotlighting the ongoing mission to gain support and action for women’s rights.  

The United Nations (UN) theme for this year’s IWD is Invest in Women: Accelerating Progress, sounding a call to governments and organisations to pivot gender-equality challenges into opportunities, fostering a more equitable future for all.

Why investing in women is non-negotiable

Gender equality is a human right, yet in 2024 women across the world continue to face barriers that impede their full participation in all spheres of life. Gender equality is also a central driver for global sustainable development and paving the way for a peaceful, prosperous and habitable world for everyone. To make this a reality we must invest in women to accelerate progress. So, what does this mean?

Achieving gender equality is a central driver for global sustainable development.

Investing in women to accelerate progress means recognising the integral contributions women are already making to public and private life. For CTG, that means recognising the role they play in delivering essential humanitarian assistance and services in some of the world’s most complex locations. It also means forging pathways that enable women to actively participate and succeed in the formal economy. For CTG, investing in women therefore also means equipping young women with the knowledge, skills and experience they need to break into the formal labour market.  

Strategies to accelerate progress towards gender equality

1.Accelerating progress is recognising women’s role in humanitarian assistance 

CTG employs thousands of women humanitarian professionals. From Child Protection Officers in South Sudan to Explosive Disposal Specialists in Mali and Displacement Tracking Experts in Libya, their stories are as diverse as the communities they serve. They have and continue to play a critical role in ensuring humanitarian assistance and services are delivered effectively to all those who need it.

Striving for a gender-equal workforce is important in any context, but it is especially important in humanitarian operations. Every individual who requires humanitarian assistance or services has distinct and differential needs and interests. To ensure diverse needs and interests are accounted for, the workforce delivering assistance must be representative of the community it serves. This applies across all identity categories, including gender.

In some contexts, not employing women in humanitarian roles can also mean that beneficiaries simply do not get access to assistance. For example, in some countries, such as Afghanistan, cultural practices mean that men’s access to private households to deliver humanitarian support is restricted. As a country where polio is endemic, women humanitarians are essential for accessing households to administer polio vaccines to children.

We therefore want to take the opportunity of IWD to shine a light on the critical work our women humanitarians are delivering. In doing so we hope to continue shifting the paradigm by fostering a more inclusive and equitable sector and inspiring a new generation of women humanitarians.  

2.Accelerating progress is equipping women with skills and knowledge

Women in conflict-affected countries face significant barriers that hinder their access to the formal labour market, and to pursuing careers in the aid and development sectors. These barriers begin from childhood and continue well into adulthood. High unemployment rates in these contexts, coupled with the prioritisation of men’s contributions to the economy, mean that even when they do complete tertiary education, women still face disproportionate challenges when accessing decent work.  

CTG’s Female First Job-Readiness Workshops aim to address these challenges by equipping young women in conflict-affected countries with the skills and knowledge they need to break into the formal labour market. Utilising our bespoke Committed to Good Curriculum, these workshops provide job-readiness skills by educating young women on topics such as how to write a CV and cover letter, preparing for an interview and harnessing the power of networking. To date, CTG has trained 300 individuals in job-readiness skills across Gaza, Somalia and South Sudan. Moving forward, we will continue to drive these efforts in additional fragile and conflict-affected locations.  

There are women who are talented, but they feel shy and cannot show up due to a lack of confidence. We want to gain that confidence in us so we can be in the position where we can impact other people around us.”Koninee, Female First Workshop Participant in South Sudan

3.Accelerating progress in empowering women with tangible work experience

The lack of work experience opportunities available within the humanitarian and development sector also poses a barrier to young women securing decent work.  

Real-world work experience opportunities, when delivered well, develop skills and industry insights, providing practical experience and building confidence. Not only does this prepare young people for successful careers, but it also makes them more employable.  

In recognition of the importance of good work experience, CTG launched its Women in Aid: Internship programme, which provides tangible work experience opportunities to young women across our countries of operation. Our interns don’t make coffee and shred paper. They assume real roles that support many different functions such as finance, recruitment, operations and marketing.  

4.Accelerating progress is taking action now

We are only six years away from 2030, the target date for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Yet, the UN warms we are ‘nowhere near’ reaching the global goals. SDG 5 for Gender Equality underpins all the other SDGs, reinforcing the more-than-ever urgent need for individuals and the global community alike to help advance gender equality. 

By investing in women, we can ensure nobody gets left behind and that all people everywhere can sooner lead fulfilling lives with dignity and respect. But accelerating progress means acting now, before it’s too late.  

Read CTG’s commitment to the United Nations’ SDGs here. 

Learn more about CTG’s Female First project.