The call for gender equality change agents in organisations worldwide has never been louder, and in response to this growing demand, the Gender Equality Changemakers (GEC) programme was born. Developed to mobilise a network of competent changemakers, the GEC programme envisions accelerating progress towards gender equality within African organisations, with plans to expand its reach to other continents.
The GEC programme equips participants with a wealth of knowledge and the necessary tools to effectively promote changes in organisational behaviour and attitudes towards gender equality. By developing an understanding of these techniques, participants are poised to initiate transformative gender equality change projects within their organisations. Since its inception, the programme has successfully served 405 unique participants from 297 organisations across 55 countries. Among the participants, 66% were female, representing a diverse and inclusive cohort.
The Capstone Project is the final course in the GEC programme and provides participants with an opportunity to put their acquired knowledge and insights into action. Participants develope action plans for gender change initiatives that they will lead within their respective organisations. To ensure the success of these projects and provide support to participants, Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) actively engage in regular alumni meetings, offering mentorship and collecting early impact stories. Additionally, a GEC mentor database is under construction, promising further support for GEC candidates throughout Africa.
As of 2022, 137 GEC projects have been initiated, marking a significant step towards increasing the number of African organisations that adopt policies and practices reflecting the efforts of Gender Equality Changemakers. These projects focus on diverse topics, from promoting a more gender-sensitive organisational culture to implementing gender equality metrics, audits, and assessments.
The GEC programme also leverages communication tools to facilitate knowledge-sharing and keep participants updated on key initiatives. Four Gender Frontiers newsletters, created in collaboration with the Centre for Sexualities, Aids, and Gender (CSA&G), have an impressive average open rate of 50%. These newsletters serve as valuable resources for participants, supporting the implementation of their Capstone projects.
The GEC programme’s impact extends beyond the individual participants, as evidenced by the creation of the League of Gender Equality Changemakers group on LinkedIn. With a growing membership of 326, this league expands the knowledge and number of professionals dedicated to promoting gender equality in organisational behaviour and attitudes. By increasing the adoption of policies and practices that embrace the efforts of GEC and undertake gender equality change projects, the league marks another stride towards a more equitable future.
The transformative influence of the GEC programme is evident through the stories of its participants and the impact they have made within their organisations. Pamela Nyamutoka, Uganda Head Director and Africa Regional Director of the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction, developed a gender action plan that included gender audits and gender-responsive HR policies to enhance female representation within the organisation.
“The Gender Equality Changemaker course gave me a whole new perspective,” says Nyamutoka. “I began to deeply evaluate our field best programmes and our procurement systems and realised that we had a very low percentage of female field staff as well as female-owned businesses as part of our service providers.”
Prudence Mnisi, Financial Inclusion Manager at the Centre for Financial Inclusion in Eswatini, engaged external organisations to conduct gender audits and educate employers on the transformative power of the gender agenda. She also engaged the Federation of Employers to provide a platform to educate employers on how the gender agenda can transform organisations to become employers of choice.
These and other capstone projects demonstrate the value of GEC alumni in driving organisational change towards gender equality. The programme has empowered participants to advocate for gender equality, engage with organisational directives, and bring about tangible and lasting transformation. As the GEC programme continues to create a network of changemakers dedicated to gender equality, it paves the way for a more inclusive, equitable, and empowered future for organisations worldwide.