Transforming Power within Organization and for the Women We Serve

May 21, 2021 8:00 PM CEST GET TICKETS

Women for Women International was founded to address issues of inclusion and equity, to end discrimination against the most marginalized and excluded people in the work – women experiencing not only gender discrimination but also conflict and marginalization – including genocide- based on their religion or ethnicity. We have always brought together people across differences, starting with Muslim women who were raped in Bosnia, through to Rwanda Genocide, different groups in Nigeria (herders and pastoralists, which correlate to religion). Our vision is that all women everywhere fulfill their full potential - and we do that by investing in their economic and social power.

How does that work in our program reflect in our staffing and organizational design – for us it has included that all staff are local or national in our programs (not expats), that we have an empowering culture in which all staff can fulfill their full potential and bring all their talents to bear.

This is a continuous effort, building equity in an unequal world: for example most INGOs offer international staff many more benefits than local: how do we attract talent if we don't also do the same even though it goes against our values? Our latest initiative is internationalization': we are looking at shifting power to become truly international - no longer having all our most senior staff located in DC, and most of our board members from the U.S., but rather prioritizing proximate leadership around the world in both our board and staff leadership Since we made this commitment last year, we now have 2 of our global Finance staff from and in DRC, plus 4 HQ staff in Nairobi from Kenya, and 1 of and in Zimbabwe – by May there will be many more.

We are also internationalizing our board – whereas previously they were all US or Europe based, we now are recruiting globally – our latest board member is a Jordanian living in Jordan. Connected initiatives are our 'Country Power' project in which we are systematically looking at our processes, policies, decision making structures to ensure those closest to the women we serve have strong influence across the organization. We also are systematically working to build an explicitly anti-racist, pro-feminist organization.

Laurie Adams CEO at Women for Women International
Kostiantyn Gridin Partner at CFC Big Ideas