If 3 million copies sold is any indication of a hit, ‘leaning in’ is the professional woman’s anthem. Taken from the bestselling Sheryl Sandberg book of the same name it’s become a catchy rallying call for women to strive for leadership positions in their professions. However, Sandberg’s approach is a narrow one that gives the impression that individual ambition and not structural shortcomings are the barriers to women’s participation. It begs the question: “Shouldn’t organisations lean in?” The UN’s Senior Women Talent Pipeline (SWTP) aspires to exactly that.
“The SWTP is an initiative that aims to attract female talent to the United Nations (UN). It is part of the Secretary-General’s efforts to increase the representation and retention of women at the director-level within field operations,” says Anne Favreau, Staff Development Officer of the UN.
The SWTP targets women with over 15 years of experience and equips them with the skills to excel at interviews, applications and provides continuous coaching after posting.
On 31 July, the Life & Peace Institute (LPI) attended the UN and African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD) organized meeting on the SWTP which brought together mostly women leaders in peace and security organisations in Addis Ababa. The result? A dynamic, candid, women-centered discussion about the institutional realisation of Resolution 1325.
Following Resolution 1325 in 2000, the active role of women in peace processes has come under the spotlight. The Resolution is the most comprehensive and overarching framework for addressing the complexities and gaps surrounding women, peace and security. Yet, while 1325 was unanimously passed by the UNSG, women are still not participating in peace and security initiatives.
“Women do not apply nearly as often as men. That disparity gets wider in posts at field operations and with increasing seniority,” says Anne Favreau.
The SWTP was launched in January 2014 and, since then 64 women have been part of the pipeline with 4 posted at senior levels in field operations. The idea is to mainstream it into the UN’s recruitment processes throughout. The SWTP may be the boldest statement of all: meeting women’s individual ambition with true structural change.
The UN is seeking women to join its field operations. Eligible candidates must possess an advanced-level university degree (Master’s or equivalent), a minimum of 15 years of relevant and progressive experience or at first level degree with 17 years of relevant and progressive experience and be fluent in English. Additional fluency in French of Arabic is strongly desirable.