International Women’s Day 2019

 

International Women’s Day 2019
#BalanceforBetter

In celebration of International Women’s Day, CCIC is profiling extraordinary women leaders in our community. Click on their photos to find out what motivates and inspires our women role models and what advice they would give to the next generation of women in leadership. 

Jane Rabinowicz

USC Canada

Jane Rabinowicz

USC Canada

What motivates or inspires you to be a leader in the Canadian International Development sector?

I am motivated by the generations of women who came before me, especially my mother, grandmothers, and USC Canada's founder Dr. Lotta Hitschmanova, who faced tremendous barriers, challenged the status quo, and paved the way for women today to succeed. And I am motivated to work in solidarity with women today who challenge the status quo and will pave the way for the next generation.

What advice would you give the next generation women working in International Development?

Support the leadership of your women partners. Call out injustice and inequity, not just in society, but within organizational structures as well. Use your position to open the door for new and different voices. Trust yourself. 

Ida Kaastra Mutoigo

World Renew

Ida Kaastra Mutoigo

World Renew

What motivates or inspires you to be a leader in the Canadian International Development sector?

What motivates and inspires me to be a leader is the partnerships we have with highly passionate and skilled leaders around the world (like Rev. Dr. Peggy Mulambya-Kabonde who is the first woman to serve as the General Secretary for the United Church of Zambia).  When I see women in other contexts rise up, against all odds, to lead and serve in ways that promoted justice, it challenges me to use even more of my energy and skills to do the same with courage and strength in a sector that has been dominated by men for so many years.  It is worth noting that it has also been a few men who have been my best allies along the way in my career path that have coached and mentored me in ways that have increased my skills and confidence. Last but not least, my faith has given me the firm foundation to pursue opportunities because I believe both men and women are equal to the task of leadership.  

What advice would you give the next generation women working in International Development?

Be true to who you are created to be!  When you work out of a foundation that is based on genuine competency, strength and passion, your confidence will grow and be the influencing force for leadership opportunities.  Avoid becoming a leader just to prove men are wrong, inferior or the enemy because that will only lead to toxic leadership.  The most empowering women leaders are those who are adept at harnessing positive energy for a higher vision that encourages all people of every age, race or gender to flourish together not in isolation from one another!

Eva Slawecki

Eva Slawecki

Canadian Society for International Health (CSIH)

Eva Slawecki

Canadian Society for International Health (CSIH)

Eva Slawecki

Canadian Society for International Health (CSIH)

What motivates or inspires you to be a leader in the Canadian International Development sector?

As a practitioner in the international development sector for nearly 20 years, I have been exposed to problems and challenges that are complex and difficult to address. It is frustrating to hear the same issues being talked about over and over again, and it sometimes seems as if nothing has changed.  But if you look at the big picture, there are improvements globally – poverty is decreasing, more girls are being educated, and health outcomes are better.  These changes have all come from individuals who are not afraid to challenge the status quo, whether it is within their community, their government, or their organization.  That is what motivates me.

What advice would you give the next generation women working in International Development?

There is so much to be done! Any contribution you make to international development is a step in the right direction.  Your steps may seem small at times but remember that we are all in this together and each of you has an important skill, competency, or opinion to bring to the table. And don’t be afraid to talk about the elephant in the room.

Jennifer Henry

KAIROS

Jennifer Henry

KAIROS

What motivates or inspires you to be a leader in the Canadian International Development sector?

Hope motivates me.  The hope that lives and breathes in the leadership of ordinary people around the globe.  Women, Indigenous peoples, refugees, migrants—people who against all odds are transforming their communities.  

What advice would you give the next generation women working in International Development?

Be brave.  Many of our partners around the world risk their lives to stand up for human rights and ecological justice.  We owe it to them to be bold, to advocate for the changes we know we need to see, even if it rocks the boat.  

Laura Solberg

Laura Solberg

Canadian Christian Relief & Development Association

Laura Solberg

Canadian Christian Relief & Development Association

Laura Solberg

Canadian Christian Relief & Development Association

What motivates or inspires you to be a leader in the Canadian International Development sector?

Being an ED of an association of organizations, I get to see so much of the amazing work that Canadians are doing with their partners internationally. I love equipping people to do what they do even better, and I get so excited when I can connect organizations that are each doing great work alone but could accomplish so much more by collaborating!

What advice would you give the next generation women working in International Development?

Learn from those who’ve gone before you but know that your strength doesn’t have to look like theirs. Pursue your work with your unique gifts and abilities; let other people sharpen your skills but be courageous enough to step into roles of leadership and do it your way.

Claudia Black

CECI

Claudia Black

CECI

What motivates or inspires you to be a leader in the Canadian International Development sector?

As a sector leader of an international civil society organization like CECI, I am inspired by the courage and strength of thousands of people we work with in over 20 countries to address fundamental inequalities and bring about social justice and change. I am also inspired by so many Canadians who get involved and actively contribute to development results through volunteering. What is so motivating in our sector is that you can make a real difference in the lives of people and actually witness tangible results on the ground related to your contribution and involvement. 

What advice would you give the next generation women working in International Development?

When I joined CECI in 2012, I became its first woman Executive Director. Gender equality is part of the organization's DNA and is reflected in the composition of its membership, board of directors, volunteers, senior management and many country teams. I hope the next generation of women can go further to ensure gender equality is sustained over time and reaches all parts of society. My advice is: First and foremost believe in yourselfpersevere, listen and learn from others, surround yourself with strong colleagues and celebrate the leadership of others around you by enabling them to grow and thrive.

Janice Hamilton

Janice Hamilton

Manitoba Council for International Cooperation (MCIC)

Janice Hamilton

Manitoba Council for International Cooperation (MCIC)

Janice Hamilton

Manitoba Council for International Cooperation (MCIC)

What motivates or inspires you to be a leader in the Canadian International Development sector?

I believe we each have a part to play in making the world a better place for all people.  I’m fortunate to work with amazing and passionate people who are working every day for a just world.  The dedication and resilience of people in the Global South is inspirational. I am inspired by the interest and action of young people who are raising their voices on important issues

What advice would you give the next generation women working in International Development?

The progress, just over the span of my career, has been amazing. It needs to continue. You can do it. Follow your passion.

Jacquelyn Wright

Jacquelyn Wright

Canadian Feed the Children

Jacquelyn Wright

Canadian Feed the Children

Jacquelyn Wright

Canadian Feed the Children

What motivates or inspires you to be a leader in the Canadian International Development sector?

My inspiration comes from my deep commitment to human rights and dignity for everyone. There are many injustices in the world, including poverty, gender inequality, conflict, disasters and the effects of the rapid change in our climate. Children, families and their communities are paying the price and I have the ability, position and resources to make a difference. I am but one person and so I am inspired to be a leader who brings people together to have maximum impact and influence to make dramatic change. I have had the privilege to work in many countries in Africa and Asia and it is the effect of people sharing their personal stories and friendship and being a witness to their lives that ultimately motivates me. Now I also have the opportunity to work together with Indigenous communities in Canada to make a difference in reconciliation and improving the lives of children and their communities. 

What advice would you give the next generation of women working in International Development?

Believe in yourself. One person can make a difference, can influence others and can start a movement. We have so many examples of this today, like Malala Yousafzai on girls’ education, Greta Thunberg on climate activism, and Cindy Blackstock on behalf of Indigenous children and families. Thousands of women are working hard every day in their own countries to change laws, behaviours and practices that create inequality and suffering. Listen with empathy, seek to understand, be courageous and never give up!

Jessica Wood

Jessica Wood

Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation (SCIC)

Jessica Wood

Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation (SCIC)

Jessica Wood

Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation (SCIC)

What motivates or inspires you to be a leader in the Canadian International Development sector?

I believe that as the challenges around our world are interconnected, so too are the solutions. Working with young folks and learning from how they envision our world as engaged global citizens inspires me to keep looking deeper into our collective experience, seeing how each story is part of the whole and supporting new ways of working together.

What advice would you give the next generation of women working in International Development?

Own your experience, be forthcoming about what you are learning along the way, yet offer apologies only when you mean them, and never simply for the sake of being polite or fitting in. Question your assumptions - about others and about yourself, and remember that you deserve to be in the room, part of the circle, on the stage, and at the table.

Karin Achtelstetter

Karin Achtelstetter

Canadian Lutheran World Relief

Karin Achtelstetter

Canadian Lutheran World Relief

Karin Achtelstetter

Canadian Lutheran World Relief

What motivates or inspires you to be a leader in the Canadian International Development sector?

What inspires me is to see young girls and boys who have lost everything – their home, family, friends – start believing in a future and daring to Dream Big. I remember a little Palestinian girl, whom I met at Augusta Victoria Hospital, who regularly has to pass check-points to receive her life-saving cancer treatment. I can’t forget her smile and her giggles when she whispered into my ear that she would like to become a doctor, just like the female doctor who was treating her.

What advice would you give the next generation of women working in International Development?

Whatever we might have gained with the Feminist International Assistance Policy and other gender relevant policies needs to be maintained and protected. History - far too often - has proven that we cannot be sure that what was achieved in terms of gender sensitive policies is a given. We need women and men who are committed to making sure that development works for that little girl I met at the hospital and for her sisters and brothers worldwide. We need to continue to challenge the root causes that would prevent her from achieving her dreams. We need to sharpen and improve our gender lens and never lose our compassion and faith. And last, but not least: Dream Big!

Inter Pares

Inter Pares

What motivates or inspires you to be a leader in the Canadian International Development sector?

Leadership is shared at Inter Pares. As feminists and social justice activists, we (the women who work at Inter Pares) aspire to challenge socially, politically, economically, and culturally-constructed hierarchies of power. We are inspired by the incredible courage and dedication of local feminist and women’s rights organizations in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Canada that we have the privilege of collaborating with each and every day. We are motivated by the vision of a future together that authentically embodies the principles of justice and equality.

What advice would you give the next generation of women working in International Development?

We would encourage anyone who wants to change the world to engage in activism in any number of ways that speak to them – personally, politically, domestically, internationally, artistically, economically, in small ways or in big ones; to examine the world through an intersectional feminist lens; and to strive to live their lives as thoughtful global citizens.

Lynn Thornton

VIDEA

Lynn Thornton

VIDEA

What motivates or inspires you to be a leader in the Canadian International Development sector?

We value collective leadership and the opportunity to raise up each other’s voices. We are motivated to stand in solidarity with marginalized women and girls who demonstrate amazing leadership against discrimination and injustice in Canada and overseas.

What advice would you give the next generation of women working in International Development?

Question everything. Strive to ensure that the women who make up the majority of workers in our sector are represented by women at the top. Know your privilege and make room for voices that have historically been silenced.

Denise Byrnes

Denise Byrnes

Oxfam Québec

Denise Byrnes

Oxfam Québec

Denise Byrnes

Oxfam Québec

What motivates or inspires you to be a leader in the Canadian International Development sector?

I continue to be motivated by the creativity and innovation of Canadian organizations and our partners across so many different countries, who work in solidarity towards human dignity for all. Our employees and volunteers are passionate, professional and brilliant. Their commitment to the mission inspires me every day and I considered myself privileged to collaborate and learn with them! What’s not to love?

What advice would you give the next generation of women working in International Development?

Don’t be afraid to take risks and go for it – you are surely “the woman” for the job. The sector offers plenty of possibilities and working overseas with a family is also achievable. This environment allows you to live your values on a daily basis and to use your professional skills to improve social justice. You will make inspiring connections and will never stop learning, even after 25 years!

Michèle Asselin

AQOCI

Michèle Asselin

AQOCI

What motivates or inspires you to be a leader in the Canadian International Development sector?

What inspires me the most is connecting with groups that are constantly working to build a better world. It is also meeting inspiring feminist activists through the World March of Women. And it is my belief that the only viable future for our planet is via international solidarity.

What advice would you give the next generation of women working in International Development?

Take advantage of every opportunity to meet committed partners. Be attentive ... You will be inspired and your practices will be strengthened. And most importantly, trust yourself!

Let’s build a gender-balanced world

Balance is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue. The race is on for the gender-balanced boardroom, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender-balance of employees, more gender-balance in wealth, gender-balanced sports coverage …

Gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive.

Collectively we can all play a part

Collective action and shared responsibility for driving a gender-balanced world are key. International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women – while also marking a call to action for accelerating gender balance.

 

Motivate others

So put your hands out and STRIKE THE #BalanceforBetter POSE and make International Women’s Day YOUR day – and do what you can to truly make a positive difference for women everywhere.

Amplify via social media

Post your #IWD2019 message on social media with your “hands out” balance pose for a strong call-to-action for others to also help forge a #BalanceforBetter.

IWD 2019 international videos