By Shoko Noda, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in the Maldives
Every year on International Women’s Day I publish an op-ed. Last year I wrote “Reaching beyond the glass ceiling”, and shared my personal experiences in facing the glass ceilings and walls in school and at work in Japan.
“This is an article our daughters should read, and mine, certainly will.”
Indeed, a lot of colleagues and friends reached me out to say how encouraging my piece was and that it resonated in their daily lives. While pleasantly surprised, I felt frustrated that many continue to face similar experiences every day both at home and at work. Are we getting there at all?
While there is still a long way to go, I believe we have overcome many hurdles and made considerable leaps towards our goal. Looking back, I am proud that I joined UNDP on this journey.
After completing my first year in a Japanese company, I knew that as a woman my career progression would be limited in my own country, and revived my dream of working for the development sector. Two years later, in 1998, I landed in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, as a junior programme officer, with UNDP. I was excited to be assigned to a “Women in Development” project.
For the next two years, I poured all my energy and my heart into the project and its staff.
We provided micro-finance for women to start small businesses. The first scholarship programme was initiated for female students from remote areas. Female political leaders were provided training on a range of issues.
Including Tajikistan, to date I have worked in 7 UNDP country offices, and gender related work is always close to my heart. I witnessed first-hand how interventions aimed at empowering women can create a ripple effect and bring transformative change to a community.
For the past twenty years in UNDP, I have seen my organisation, adapting and growing in its efforts to ensure gender is placed at the core of everything we do. As part of expanding the organisation’s efforts towards advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment, UNDP started to move towards integrating gender in all aspects of our work.
We continue to seek new initiatives to address this universal challenge. UNDP introduced a pilot certification programme called “Gender Seal” to provide a new approach to integrate our efforts towards gender mainstreaming. The Gender Seal is designed to score every aspect of what we do for gender mainstreaming both at the programme and operations sides. By providing a gold, silver or bronze seal, it creates healthy competition among country offices for the good cause.
In Nepal as Country Director, I led the Gender Seal process myself, I firmly believe that the certification programme is an extremely effective tool to walk the talk about gender equality in our programmes as well as work place.
UNDP is now expanding the Gender Seal programme to private companies. Working together through the certification process, we support them to deepen their understanding of gender equality in the workplace and its linkages to the products and services they provide. In the Maldives, where I work now, we are slowly engaging the private sector to advocate for gender equality at the workplace. It is these new partnerships that will strengthen our efforts towards sustainable development in the country.
It has been a rewarding journey.
Like the organisation itself, I have put gender equality at the centre for everything we do in each country. Are we getting there? Yes, I believe so. A lot of achievements to celebrate, more hurdles to jump over.
The Time is Now!
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Source URL: Medium