Dalberg at Women Deliver, 2023

At Dalberg, we have a public and resourced commitment to gender equality. We believe this is critical to advance our mission to address some of the world’s most pressing problems through systemic change. The Women Deliver 2023 Conference took place in Kigali, Rwanda in July and we were honored to participate in one of the largest multi-sectoral convenings to advance gender equality.  

Our practice area co-lead Shruthi Jayaram spoke at the Fem the Future Pre-Philanthropy Conference organized by Global Fund for Women; our Regional Director for the Asia Pacific Swetha Totapally, alongside Shruthi Jayaram, hosted a conversation on Dalberg’s work with the Spotlight Initiative around the Imperative to Invest in ending violence against women and girls; and we hosted a fireside chat on supporting girls in secondary education with Educate Girls, Educate! and Uwezo Uganda. Laura Amaya, Dalberg Europe’s gender practice co-lead, and Daphnée Benayoun, our Paris Office Director, presented the findings from Dalberg’s latest report on the cross-cutting impact opportunity of Menstrual Health and Hygiene at an event hosted by the Special Initiative “Decent Work for a Just Transition” (Invest for Jobs) of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

In total, ten Dalberg leaders contributed to the in-person discussions and side events and four of them share their reflections on how they see the ecosystem addressing gender and power dynamics and what remains to be done.

1. What excited you the most about the energy and work you saw at Women Deliver and why? 

Daphnée Benayoun:
“First, it was energizing to be with so many experts, activists, pioneers, and inspiring people of all genders from around the world who are passionate about advancing gender equality. We gathered in Africa to hear from each other, share lessons, insights, and build momentum around concrete solutions and pathways to progress. I’ve been working more closely over the last few months with a few other colleagues on menstrual health and hygiene and it was truly exhilarating to see the momentum building and growing interest in the global gender conversation on the topic which translated into 10+ events and discussions at Women Deliver 2023, including one we contributed to on the impact imperative and opportunity of menstrual health and hygiene for women and girls, companies, and society as a whole. This is even more striking when you consider that no dedicated sessions on the subject were featured in the previous edition of Women Deliver in 2019.”

2. What are some of the most effective strategies you have seen to further gender equality and systemic transformation in your work?

Laura Amaya:
“One of the strongest ways we have seen to further gender outcomes in our work is to place individuals at the center. When we anchor on funder priorities, government ministries, or corporate divisions, we risk perpetuating siloes.

Taking a human-centric lens to our work enables us to understand how individuals experience gender inequities, and how different aspects of their lives reinforce (or can counter) gender norms.

If we think about the care economy, focusing on the individual experience of a woman can shed light on opportunities to shift how employers design flexible policies to enable her full workforce participation, how governments can create mechanisms to provide financial support for the care she provides to children or elderly relatives, and how philanthropies can fund initiatives that engage – and enable – men around her to share the load on care.”

3.  Where do you think there is an opportunity for transformative change?

Laura Herman:
“I believe that there continues to be significant room for corporates to take a stronger leadership role in championing gender equity within and beyond the company walls. Too often we limit our thinking of gender and the private sector to statistics about the number of women in leadership positions, at the Board level or heading up companies in the supply chain.  The recent report from Just Capital spotlights a few of the leaders in those categories.  But through their product design, clinical trials, advertising, advocacy and internal corporate policies companies can help ensure equitable access to effective and appropriate products that meet women’s unique needs. They can leverage the power of media to champion messages that break down stereotypes and they can ensure political leaders advance legislation to uphold women’s rights. Beyond the focus on women, companies can put in place policies and benefits that support both men and women as working parents, whether they sit at headquarters or in far-flung offices. At the community level, the private sector can help build the power of grassroots leaders to more effectively drive gender equity outside of the corporate walls, ensuring a more equitable ecosystem in which to operate.”

If companies take a 360-degree view of their opportunities to advance gender equality, I believe we will see an unlocking of significant impact and growth in the bottom line for companies.

4. What does good gender analysis at Dalberg look like and why?

Shruthi Jayaram:
“This is a great question, and one our gender equity practice keeps top of mind, because we set the evolving standard for gender analysis across the firm.  It’s actually one reason our team goes to conferences like Women Deliver, so we can continue to improve and hone our craft.  For now, I’ll say that any good gender analysis has to ask the “why” questions and get to the root causes, not just the symptoms, of gender inequality. Why is it, for example, that 23 years after the world set a goal of every boy and girl to have a primary school education, 32 million girls are still out of school?  Why is it that we still lack political will for parental leave policies, despite 87% of mothers and 85% of fathers across 17 countries saying that this will benefit them? Why are women more likely than men to die in response to a climate disaster?  Trying to answer these sorts of questions can help us prevent gendered differences in opportunities or threats, even as we try to reduce them. Doing so also points us to the systemic and political shifts, not just behavioral or technical shifts that we need to make to achieve gender equality.

And finally, good gender analysis takes more than gender into account. It takes into account power dynamics and intersectional considerations, both among people and in relation to the systems that govern and guide our behavior.

Gender is ultimately one component of a person’s identity, and a good gender analysis can never forget that.”


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