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Gender Champions & Proud of It!

Geneva Gender Champions

We need to move the needle now -- swiftly and inexorably -- on gender parity both at the grassroots and the 'leaves' of global society. Since early July, International Geneva is home to the Geneva Gender Champions, a leadership network to harness the will, creativity, and expertise of male and female leaders heading Missions to the UN and International Organizations, the International Organizations themselves, and Civil Society in order to make tangible and effective movement towards women and girls' equality... NOW.   Here in Geneva, we are beginning with the erasure of one man panel at a time. Then we are moving on to individualized concrete organizational commitments at the end of September 2015.

Led by Geneva Gender Champions co-founders Michael Møller, the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva and Ambassador Pamela Hamamoto, of the US Mission in Geneva with her Future She Deserves initiative, and civil society's Women@TheTable, each Geneva Gender Champion's first action is to sign on to the Geneva Gender Parity Panel Pledge. A pledge that incidentally hopes to make both itself, and manpanels, obsolete.

AlreadyAmbassadors to UNOG, the United Nations Office in Geneva, from Finland, Senegal, Turkey, Tunisia, Costa Rica, the European Union, Sweden, Viet Nam, Australia, Denmark, Singapore, Japan and Canada have signed the pledge, as have the Heads of International Organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Labour Organization, the International Organization for Migration, the International Telecommunication Union, the International Trade Centre, UNAIDS, UNDP, the UN Economic Commission for Europe, the World Meteorological Organization, the International Computing Centre, and UNHCR (the High Commission for Refugees), representing the first International Organizations based in Geneva to sign on both as leaders, and for their organizational will to be Gender Champions.
Not bad for a soft launch! And we are only beginning.

The Pledge is a simple one: I, ________ support the Geneva Gender Parity Panel Pledge. Because Gender Parity on Panels should be that simple.
In addition, the pledge is both a concrete process and meant to be a thoughtful internal and external exercise for the conference organizer and potential panelist. The reflective nature of the process is there to ensure that there is a conversation each time a panel is composed, and that the process of including high performing dynamic female experts will eventually become reflexive, rendering the "Geneva Gender Parity Panel Pledge" obsolete.

We ask all Pledgers to go through a Process with Conference Organizers when approached to be on a Panel: What are the organizers are doing to ensure gender balance at the event; are there any women, or equal numbers of women, speaking on the panel/s? If not, have the organizers reached out to female experts? If not, can the potential panelist share their list of dynamic experts in the field that happen to be women? (This list composed by the potential panelist/or organization and also has the knock on effect of the potential male panelist championing a number of his brilliant and knowledgeable female colleagues.) Finally, are conference organizers exploring the list and issuing invitations to expert women?

The reasons for the pledge are simple as well: Fifty per cent of the population warrants the same visibility as the other fifty percent, and visibility is key for role models in the public space and workplace. Women's distinct and expert voices are elevated through gender parity on panels. And quite frankly, unique points of view offer 21st century results and sustainable solutions. We aim for nothing less than a change in culture, and a mind shift.

Our Gender Champions will be publishing their additional two concrete, results- oriented commitments for their Missions or Organizations at the end of this month, and we look forward to their creativity and game changing initiatives. Research shows that having women on the right kind of panel changes their chances to be short listed for Ministerial positions, for example. Even having one woman on a Nominations or Review Committee can be a game changer in terms of output subtly shifting unconscious bias.

International Geneva is home to a strategic resource of global policy makers, international organizations, and civil society working in collaboration with the United Nations in Geneva. We hope to lead by example creating gender parity at our home base. As our first step we hope to make manpanels a relic of history changing the gender equation and turbocharging the visibility of expert women, one small manel at a time.
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