- Empowering women with the British Council
The British Council, in partnership with Clore Social Leadership, is offering emerging women leaders the opportunity to develop their leadership capacity and skills through an eight week online, self-accessible leadership course.
The course is available for women leaders, in the age group of 24-35 years, and the course will develop your ability to become more effective in leading interventions to support gender equality and women’s leadership within your sector and/or community.
Considering how empowering women and girls and achieving gender equality are crucial to creating inclusive, open, and prosperous societies, the British Council contributes to this agenda by creating opportunities for dialogue to influence policies that benefit women and girls; working with partners to promote access and opportunities for women and girls and build their skills and confidence to achieve their potential and have more influence over decisions that affect their lives.
Further in this regard, speaking to the Platinum Jubilee Women in Leadership Project Manager Thushara Gunasekera, she shared how the British Council takes a holistic approach to tackling gender inequalities from a number of perspectives and demands action from a range of stakeholders.
She noted that it recognises that change is needed to support women’s and girls’ awareness, capacities, and abilities, as well as creating opportunities and an enabling environment for empowerment.
She said they apply a track approach to achieve this, described as follows:
Empowerment of women and girls
“In all of the global and cultural contexts we operate in (including the UK), evidence shows that men frequently hold positions of leadership and power with women having access to fewer opportunities, resources, and influence over decision-making. This means that women and girls are often disadvantaged, marginalised, and discriminated against because of their sex. In order to redress some of these imbalances and inequalities, British Council Sri Lanka’s projects such as Platinum Jubilee Women in Leadership and Empowering Communities to address Violence Against Women and Girls meet some of the specific needs of women and girls by providing them with opportunities to increase their skills, confidence, and ability to bring about positive changes in their lives. It also includes ‘gender specific actions’ which are targeted at men or women to redress imbalances through community-based interventions,” noted Gunasekera.
Integrating gender equality throughout all programmes
“Alongside these targeted interventions to address existing gender inequalities, we also have mainstreaming gender into youth leadership programmes in Sri Lanka using British Council’s global active citizens methodology. We have actively sought to embed gender equality through everything we do, by ensuring that the concerns of both men and women are an integral part of the design, implementation and monitoring, and evaluation of the work that we do and that we aim to reduce inequalities between men and women through our work through approaches which are gender sensitive or gender transformative,” noted Gunasekara, adding the ways in which they achieve this by:
- “Taking action to challenge and reduce existing gender inequalities,
- Ensuring that we avoid excluding any groups, including women and girls and ensuring that their participation is meaningful, and
- Being inclusive as possible to ensure that we are engaging with both men and women through our activity. This could mean targeting specific activities within a programme, e.g. for single-sex groups, in order to facilitate their engagement and meet specific outcomes.”
Gunasekera further provided that their aim is to connect future leaders worldwide – based on the diversity of their approaches, pursuit of positive social change, and commitment to common values.
Noting that a key focus is on promoting diverse leadership and recognising and working towards addressing gaps in representation that are primarily based on gender.
She added that their planned outcomes include;
- Improved capacity and skills of emerging and potential women leaders
- Develop their ability to be more effective in leading interventions to support gender equality and women’s leadership within their sector and/or community
- Improved access to case studies, role models, and networks progressing gender equality and women’s leadership among young leaders. This will primarily be through digital platforms
- Strengthened capacity of civil society and social enterprises, higher education institutes (HEIs) and cultural institutions to work collaboratively, celebrate and enable women’s access to decision-making and influence in their sectors
Finally, she shared that following this training programme, participating women leaders will have the opportunity to gain valuable mentorship: “We hope to collaborate with like-minded partners in the region in management and development sector who will provide the necessary mentorship for women to progress in their respective careers as emerging leaders,” said Gunasekara.