Because it’s 2015

Because it’s 2015. Three simple words. The shrugged shoulders. The strong implication that it’s ridiculous to ask why gender balance is so important. Well played, Canada, well played.

Other #BecauseIts2015 moments that have us cheering are below and we would love to hear more from you in the comments section. This space, after all, belongs to all of you to read, share, collaborate, commiserate and celebrate all things related to women working in aid.

Foreign Policy Interrupted

A brilliant initiative by Elmira Bayrasli (@endeavoringE) and Lauren Bohn (@LaurenBohn), both journalists.  In their own words @fpinterrupted is here to:

…[target] women involved in foreign policy or with foreign policy expertise but who lack the capacity and exposure to major media outlets. Through a fellowship program, involving media training and editorial mentorships at major outlets, we’re changing the ratio.

Go check it out.  There is a weekly email sent out with amazing links to articles, blogs, podcasts, video clips etc.



This is an actual problem anyone can see who has been to any conference of any kind (in any industry but also our own).  Even David Hasselhoff (now) sees it’s a problem.  We finally have push back on this.

A great article by Hans Schulz (a VP at the Inter American Development Bank) first up, where he ends with saying he has signed the pledge started by Owen Barder to not sit on an all male panel.  He gets points for not only mentioning many charismatic women speakers in his article but also stating how he actively networks, finds and collects this information to pass onto event organisers.  When looking at gender equality and empowerment, men have as much of a role as women and this is a perfect example of that being done right.

Rose Longhurst who works at Bond has written eloquently on how she has pushed back in three separate incidents and the mixed reaction she received.  There is really no excuse especially as Bond has a list of women speakers covering a range of topics in the aid sector and is taking suggestions.  Please do go and fill in the many amazing women speakers that you know so there is no excuse anymore to have all male panels.  Let’s start with gender and then also move forward on the diversity angle (something McSweeney’s, a literary/publishing space, lampoons wonderfully in this piece).



Connected to the above, one of the big complaints event organisers have is that there aren’t enough women in leadership or top positions to bring them to panels.  Enter highlighting all the amazing women in development.  The UN Job Finder site (the ones behind the hashtag) are trying to raise awareness of how women are making a difference and want to promote female role models in the international development sector.  This is in part to inspire and encourage more women to enter the work force.

So…get involved.  As the website states:

It doesn’t have to be women in high positions or future Nobel peace price laureates. Actually, it doesn’t have to be some one else. If you are a woman (or a group of female colleagues) working in global development and are proud of what you do, then join the campaign and share a photo of who you are. We want to promote all those who are qualified, passionate, engaged, who have positively affected others and basically are making a difference irrespective of their position in the organisation.

We’d love to see your posts on all social media outlets (twitter, FaceBook, instagram), with pictures of you or your female colleagues marked with #WomenInDevOrgs and #WiA.


Report The Abuse

Attention to sexual harassment, abuse and violence in our sector has been a long time coming.  We’ve written about it before but it has taken the horrific story of aid worker Megan Norbert to bring this issue to the forefront as she did what many of us have not.  She spoke up.  She fought.  She’s doing something about it.  Since Megan began telling her story, a whole host of stories have surfaced covered here and here and here in the Guardian.

The big problem becomes, as with anything else, that there isn’t data to point to this being an issue that DOES need to be tackled and taken seriously.  These are not isolated incidents and Megan going public with her story has allowed others to speak up about their own experiences; very importantly there is now a survey/data collection instrument where we can finally start to have the data needed to make sure it is understood how pervasive the problem actually is.  Do go check out the survey and the stories already collected through the 50 Days, 50 Stories initiative as well.


Because It’s 2015–what other stories/initiatives/projects would you highlight?  We’d love to know so please leave us a comment or better yet, submit a post! We are always looking for submissions.


About Zehra

Zehra is a livelihoods and cash transfer specialist working in humanitarian contexts. She has also been a health and lifestyle coach for humanitarian aid workers. Loves food, bollywood and tweeting (@zehrarizvi).
This entry was posted in social media, updates, women and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Because it’s 2015

  1. Super — great compilation of reading and resources here. Thank you!

  2. Thanks for this great round up! I had missed #saynotoallmalepanels and just checked out Rose’s post in the Guardian. I’ve been loving #bewellservewell this year (though not women specific). Cheers!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s