Research has shown that women-led organisations produce higher rates of employment retention and satisfaction. Women bring exceptional value with their leadership style of emotional intelligence, purpose-driven and firm perspectives on access to equality and non-discrimination policies in the workplace.
But women’s leadership is a reality beyond the workplace as well, and always has been. This year, the UN Women’s theme for International Women’s Day, “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”, highlights the critical need for an intersectional feminist approach to advancing women’s rights, and recognises the contribution of women and girls around the world who are leading the charge on climate change adaptation, mitigation, and response, to build a more sustainable future for all. Not only are women one of the most vulnerable groups being affected by the issues of climate change - and specifically by its social and economic repercussions - but they are also at the forefront of advocacy around the issue.
“Women and girls have always been effective and powerful leaders, and change-makers. Whether or not we were recognised, we have always been present in intersecting social justice movements, and have always been there to lead in times of hardship. Reaching a greater gender equality, and recognising and empowering women and girls from every walk of life, should be on the priority list for all states, governments and corporations that are serious about equality and inclusion.”
Tuisina Ymania Brown, ILGA World's Co-Secretary General
A glance at ILGA over the years
The leadership at ILGA World has been no different with their approach to incorporate the principles of feminism to guide how they support member organizations in advocating for the human rights of all.
“The women of ILGA World believe in intersectional feminism, we recognise the multiple oppressions that cross our bodies, and we work to dismantle the systems of power that keep us from social justice. For us, our differences are a value that contributes to our daily work and to being a better organisation”
Luz Elena Aranda, ILGA World's Co-Secretary General
At the Board level, leadership at ILGA World has often been in the hands of women - and in the hands of women or non-binary people since 2013 -, working with diverse pools of activists from all over the world to represent our global community working with diverse pools of activists from all over the world to represent our global community. More recently, we achieved another milestone in November 2021, when Julia Ehrt became the first woman to be Executive Director at ILGA World. To date, two-thirds of the senior management level in ILGA World staff comprises of women.
To ensure the intersectional needs of women are being addressed, a Women’s Committee was established alongside others in 2016 at the ILGA World Conference in Bangkok. Committees fully became operational after the 2019 World Conference in Wellington, continuing the work of the Secretariats we had before: we now have a larger and more geographically diverse group of activists working on specific concerns of women and other population groups, instead of leaving the task to a single member organisation. Since then, the Women’s Committee has been chaired by Cristina González Hurtado from Colombia, and has been made of both cis and trans women in allyship. In addition to making sure that LBTI women are front and centre in ILGA World’s advocacy, one of their main outputs of the committee is the Women Moving Forward Together magazine, which has released three issues so far: 01 – 02 - 03.
Considering the needs of LBTI women, and recognising how these communities are often left behind and under-represented in data collection, has become central in our work. In 2021, ILGA World co-led the Affirmation of Feminist Principles, a sign-on letter “to reaffirm what we believe are core feminist principles and to amplify the positions that many feminists have historically chosen to take in relation to understanding gender, sex and sexuality.”
"Feminism are practices and actions for equality, and in ILGA World the feminisms of ALL the women that we are part of are being represented, recognized and heard. At ILGA World, the 8th of March is commemorated 365 days a year."
Cristina González Hurtado, Chair of ILGA World's Women's Committee
What is next?
Moving forward in ensuring there is a structured and sustainable feminist approach and legacy, ILGA World continues to coordinate programmes, capacity building initiatives and recourses to highlight and address the intersections of women rights and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
”Feminism roots in principles such as autonomy, self-determination, and the questioning of power. And while those are often thought of external actions, feminism is about making those principles ongoing practice - externally AND internally. This is what feminist leadership in ILGA World is about: practice feminism in everything we do.”
Julia Ehrt, ILGA World's Executive Director