The number of gender staff compared to staff in other technical and operational areas is limited. It was just a few years ago that many Food For Peace (FFP)-funded programs only had a gender focal point, but this has changed. Some programs have small teams devoted to integrating gender into program activities as well as providing guidance and support for staff in other programmatic areas. The overall intention is not to have the same number of gender specialists as other specialists on programs in areas like agriculture, health, and nutrition, but to build the capacity of technical staff to integrate gender on their own. While gender specialists everywhere aim to achieve this, they continue to focus on convincing staff on the importance of integrating gender in their work as well as providing guidance. Opportunities to discuss challenges and struggles are limited.
The FSN Network Gender Task Force recognized this, and during a January 2016 task force meeting, implementers of FFP-funded programs expressed interest in further developing and deepening the network of gender advisors, specialists, focal points, and advocates across FFP programs. Could an event be organized to provide an opportunity to build and strengthen the network of implementing partner gender staff, as well as help attendees address challenges and share successes in gender integration? Could the focus be on fewer PowerPoint presentations and more interaction and idea-sharing? The idea of this type of event was exciting, but what was needed to make it happen?
- Support from headquarters staff and the donor
- A place to hold the event and favorable chances of all invitees to obtain entry visas
- Great logistical support and facilitators
By November 2016, TOPS gained strong support for the event along with the help of implementing partners at the HQ and program level and FFP. In January 2017, 22 gender advisors and advocates from ten countries in Africa and Latin America gathered in Lusaka, Zambia to learn, share, and support. Over two days, participants actively engaged in
- Presenting information about their programs
- Collectively problem solving
- Sharing useful tools and resources
- Mapping out in-country gender partners
- Discussing the latest updates in FFP programs
- Critiquing the FSN Network’s Gender Core Competencies
- Initiating an online network
Since the Gender Summit, TOPS has continued to engage with participants through the online network as well as share information beyond those who attended. More about the development of the event and what happened is discussed in this one hour webinar.
Do you have any thoughts or questions about the Gender Summit? Feel free to post below.