“I am wearing large overalls and am but a couple of months away from maternity leave myself. It dawns on us that there isn’t a chance in hell I’m going to get that job. ”
I was reading a recent post by J. at Tales From the Hood about “local” being an article of faith in the Church of Aid, and it occurred to me that Gender is the G-spot.
You know I'm right. You just cannot (and certainly should not) have a document, meeting, program or strategy that does not address gender. Depending on the place and theme, it can range from anything along the lines of combating FGM to increased political representation and decision making. As aid practitioners we are acutely aware of the pitfalls and structural biases that leave women vulnerable to abuse and dependency. We ignore the locals’ arguments that link these forms of discrimination to culture or tradition, and demand equality be treated as a basic human right.
So why is it we are failing so miserably to achieve gender balance at home?
Some years ago, when the goal of gender balance in staffing was set for all the UN agencies, I was working in a large UN agency myself. Very responsibly they hired a (female) consultant to undertake some focus group discussion in order to discover why it was so difficult to retain qualified women. I took part in the young professionals' discussions. The YPP was a group of staff selected for their management skills through an intense processto be fast tracked within the organization. For the most part they were in their mid twenties/ early thirties and female. The group discussion, as might have been expected, revolved around two things: motherhood and the difficulty of having a male partner follow a woman around (which the UN career requires, as there is constant rotation between duty stations all over the world, much like in a diplomatic career).