Voices from the Field

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #BreaktheBias. It’s a challenge to imagine a new world, one that is free from stereotypes and discrimination. It’s a big ask, but as development practitioners we seek to solve the most wicked problems around the globe. We know that a single program cannot fully address access to education, income inequality, or community cohesion – yet we set our sights on these lofty goals and work on moving the needle towards progress. Breaking the bias asks us to do the same, to imagine a more equitable world and then take steps towards making it a reality.

Bias and stereotypes prevent us from seeing all that an individual can offer, or even all that we ourselves can offer. For an organization, failing to recognize the value that staff of every gender (and race, sexuality, etc.) bring to the table means it cannot maximize performance or impact. Since we work with some of the most vulnerable communities around the globe it is paramount that we heed this call to action. For us the work is two-fold: we must address bias in our project design as well as in the implementation process, particularly in our work with local partners.

As you read how women from Creative’s global staff are breaking the bias in their communities and in the work they do, consider how their stories can help you #BreaktheBias too, both in and out of the office.

Susan Enchill
Associate Business Development Manager
Gender, Equity and Social Inclusion (GESI) Working Group Member

Kinda Jaradat, MEL Director for the Jordan Technical Assistance Program (TAP)

Kinda Jaradat

Monitoring and Evaluation Director

Jordan Technical Assistance Program 

In what ways do you hope to “break the bias” for women? 

From a monitoring, evaluation and learning perspective, research is a key area where bias can be broken. I believe that incomplete data often generates biased decisions. When research is not gender sensitive and women are underrepresented, important data about the economic, political and social contributions of girls and women become incomplete or missing. When decisions are made and priorities are set, capacities of women and girls are often underutilized. It is important that research efforts monitor gender-differential implications and utilize gender-sensitive approaches to ensure that gender-based constraints are eliminated.   

What are the greatest challenges you see for achieving women’s equality in your country?  

Despite Jordan’s commitments to reforming the public sector and to the integration of equal opportunity and non-discrimination principles, many implementation challenges still prevail. Women’s weak representation in the public administration sphere and in senior positions in the private and public sectors relates to cultural norms. There is widespread belief that it is the responsibility of men to support women financially and that women’s work should have a secondary role in their lives. 

Bethelhem Tesfaye Wordofa, Teacher Performance & Student Assessment Specialist for Ethiopia READ II

Bethelhem Tesfaye Wordofa

Teacher Performance & Student Assessment Specialist

Ethiopia Read II 

In what ways do you hope to “break the bias” for women in your community? 

The most important tool to break this bias is to create more learning opportunities for girls to augment their participation in the social, economic and political space. When strong, educated women control the space, it motivates others to “break the bias” and become productive assets to the community. In the long term, informed investments on equity and access as well as community awareness will help break the bias. There are culturally embedded thought systems that hinder these efforts, but systematic and innovative approaches can help to unlearn or embrace the empowerment of women within the community. I will contribute to break this bias in my community by believing that girls can contribute to the economy if they are given an equal chance.  

What positive changes for gender equality have you seen in your country in recent years? 

In Ethiopia, we are seeing more women in higher political leadership positions and the cabinet is appointing women to higher positions more progressively. We are witnessing also a rise in the number of women in entrepreneurship and business spaces. Most of the successful start-ups in Ethiopia are the brainchild of more and more women founders. Hence, there is an improvement in creating a business and innovation eco-system to support more women into economic empowerment. The government is giving attention to gender equality through different policy reforms and frameworks, even though much more needs to be done going forward. The enactment of different laws such as family law, criminal law and the constitution has contributed a great deal in ensuring equality in marriages between men and women, as well as contributed to the reduction of early marriage, teenage pregnancy and abduction.  

Karen Janeth Duarte, Chief of Party for the USAID/Central America Regional Initiative (CARI)

Karen Janeth Duarte

Chief of Party

Central America Regional Initiative 

In what ways do you hope to “break the bias” for women? 

The first step toward breaking the bias needs to be at personal level, which means breaking the bias in terms of how we think we need to be and how we lead programs, teams and organizations. Secondly, we need to look at how we envision other women and men to develop their skills, ensuring that our own and collective bias are always confronted in order to promote inclusive spaces. 

What important qualities do women bring to the development sector?  

Women who come from diverse cultures, ethnic backgrounds, gender identifications, religions etc., bring their realities and experiences to the development sector. This helps us understand conscious and unconscious perceptions and biases, giving us a way to understand from an intersectional gender perspective what the needs, challenges and opportunities are that contribute to women’s equity and the sustainable development of communities.  

Jennifer Emodi, Procurement and Logistics Officer for the West Africa Trade and Investment Hub (WATIH)

Jennifer Emodi

Procurement and Logistics Officer

West Africa Trade and Investment Hub

In what ways do you hope to “break the bias” for women in your field? In your country? 

For my part, I hope to break the bias in the procurement sector by contributing my effort to ensure my work environment is inclusive, so women don’t have to hide their motherhood and child-raising years just to be considered more serious about their careers. I will acknowledge and respect difference in the workplace, so no woman feels she must adopt a pattern of behavior to be accepted and make progress in her career path.

On a national level, providing childcare facilities and pregnancy support would go a long way toward enhancing women’s productivity and building their confidence. Also, providing flexible working schedules that allow employees to maintain a proper work-life balance. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world and has shown that working remotely does not reduce productivity but rather saves the organization’s recurring costs. 

What positive changes for gender equality have you seen in your country in recent years? 

I have seen positive changes over the years with more women working in organizations and holding key positions rather than just being the support units. Women have evolved significantly and are no longer afraid to be pioneers in any chosen field of endeavor.    

But the chronic and persistent underinvestment in gender equality has grossly affected women in my country. The greatest challenges in my country affecting women’s equality are financial inequality, low legislative representation and traditional beliefs. In my industry, there still exists a gender pay gap as well as fewer opportunities for females as you climb the corporate ladder. These factors have indeed affected the career growth of women in my country. 

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