Men, women, boys and girls have different roles, responsibilities and experiences that affect their vulnerability to hunger. Thanks to your support, Action Against Hunger is committed to addressing these different needs in our work, as well as to creating a gender-sensitive and enabling environment across our organization. In 2013, we revised our Gender Policy to consider the different roles and responsibilities of men and women in every department and at every level. Are salaries fair? Do we provide enough maternal and paternal leave? Do we create safe spaces for men and women? These are just some of the questions we asked our team.
Since then, we have been working to make sure our colleagues across the Action Against Hunger network are using the revised policy. In other words, we began our “Gender Agenda.” In order to support and strengthen the Action Against Hunger Gender Agenda, we brought together a group of passionate staff from every level, and from all corners of our global organization, to ensure gender remains on our agenda. These “Gender Champions” recently met in person for the first time to share their experiences and discuss concrete ways to strengthen Action Against Hunger’s commitment to gender equality.
Action Against Hunger Canada is leading the initiative within our global network (of more than 7,000 staff) to encourage deeper engagement with gender issues linked to the Gender Agenda. This means adopting it in Canada and promoting it with our colleagues in the more than 45 countries in which we work. We launched a network-wide nomination process for staff who have demonstrated passion and experience in fighting for gender equality. We selected 16 Gender Champions from almost 100 nominations at different levels and offices, and in various geographical areas. These passionate and motivated staff now advocate for a deeper understanding of the diverse experiences of men, women, boys and girls in their context, and in our program work. They also help build a more enabling and gender-sensitive environment in their various workplaces.
In June, these Gender Champions gathered in Spain for the first annual Gender Champion Workshop. It allowed the group to meet and share experiences, as well as to engage in important conversations on gender and nutrition. The Gender Champions also discussed Action Against Hunger’s role in acknowledging gender challenges in our work and ways we, as an organization, can push to address broader gender issues in society.
One Gender Champion from Colombia highlighted the importance of using interactive and participatory tools, such as a 24-hour clock, to demonstrate the recognized and unrecognized work of men, women, boys and girls. Describing what a person does throughout a 24-hour day – cleaning the house, fetching water, sleeping, etc. – as well as men’s and women’s different roles and responsibilities, sheds light on gender inequalities.
A Gender Champion from Kenya shared findings from a recent gender analysis conducted in the West Pokot County. It found that women and girls experience unequal access to education, health services and information linked to income and control over land resources. However, chronic malnutrition rates in the region are higher in boys. The study thus emphasized the need for multi-sectoral and multi-level approaches to our programming, while also addressing gender inequalities and power imbalances.
Canada’s Gender Champion showed how an annual revision of Action Against Hunger Canada’s human resource policies (including the addition of flexible working hours) has encouraged a more gender-sensitive work environment.
Meanwhile, some spoke about what personally motivates them to collaborate on this project. The Gender Champion from Action Against Hunger’s US headquarter explained how, even though she has always fought for gender equality, her newfound role as a parent has driven her to push for meaningful buy-in to ensure an enabling environment from senior management – or, as she put it, to move from “fluff to stuff.” The Gender Champion from Action Against Hunger’s Guinea office shared grim statistics from the Humanitarian Women’s Network (HWN), illustrating the high rate of sexual exploitation and abuse in the humanitarian and development sector: findings that propel her ongoing passion to address gender issues in our organization.
The Gender Champions viewed this workshop as an important beginning to this ongoing project. The entire team is excited to see the impact of their work in the months ahead.