When we think of what it means to be “doing gender”, we think of it often in theoretical ways, but “doing gender” requires taking proactive steps to address disparities, and implementing policies and practices that uphold a fundamental right- gender equality for all. Bringing about true impact desires a collective mindset that prioritises the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 5 which is to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
At Digital Frontiers Institute, being the first on the continent to bring theory to practice through our Gender Equality Changemakers Programme, we have produced practical applications of theoretical knowledge and projects to solve problems, make decisions, and achieve desired outcomes to ensure that gender perspectives are incorporated into development initiatives in organisations.
Promoting gender equality is a complex issue that requires a multi-dimensional approach specially to create a real impact. In partnership with the CSA&G at the University of Pretoria, we go beyond educating people about the importance of gender equality and the ways gender inequality manifests itself, and how it affects people of different genders. We also focus on the practical by tapping into the confidence you need to improve your organisation and advance gender equality in your sector. This programme also focuses on human connection through our 10 country-based Community of Practices have effectively created safe and inclusive spaces for people of all genders, provided platforms for individuals to exchange county-based information, share tacit knowledge, and develop a shared understanding that “doing gender” requires support and mentorship. By fostering a sense of community and encouraging lifelong learning our Gender Equality Changemaker facilitators have brought theory to practice by supporting our students to implement their gender action plan and ignite real change in their organisations.
We measure the impact of our work through the capacity we have built through our programmes, to date we have 137 certified Changemakers with 823 participants, across 28 countries, in 668 organisations. Our graduates have advocated and initiated policies that promote workplace diversity and inclusivity, advocate for gender equality, speak out against laws, policies, and practices that perpetuate gender inequality, and call for changes that promote equal opportunities and rights for all genders.
This programme has two distinct tracks, one for Gender Equality Changemakers and one for Gender Equality Champions. The Gender Equality Changemakers programme is made up of five consecutive courses designed for female or male senior and mid-level managers or professionals in the private, public, development or NGO sector who have the drive and initiative to advance gender equality in their organisation. While the Gender Equality Champions programme is a standalone course for Senior Level Executives (C-Suite) who wish to become gender champions in their organisations. The Leading Equitable Organisations course guides students through personal reflection and authentic dialogue among peers on gender issues and the practice of leadership, helping them uncover how they can foster more equitable organisations.
The necessity to come together as Africans to ensure that Gender Equality is achieved in our lifetimes has expanded. It is time for all of us to join the League of Gender Equality Changemakers and make the impact that matters.