CBI Celebrates International women's day

We're hosting a competition for gratis political acumen training!

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Improving Development Outcomes by Including Women in Community Dialogues

Civil society organizations, corporations, and governments are increasingly making policy and program decisions based on the tacit recognition that addressing gender equality plays a central role in achieving numerous societal objectives (ranging from reducing poverty to improving public health). Likewise, the unique role that women play in strengthening post-conflict reconstruction has been widely documented.1 However, less well documented is the important role that engaging women at the community level plays in improving human development outcomes.

While not limited to these examples, organizations ranging from the World Bank to Oxfam America’s Extractive Industries program have noted that when women are initially included as part of community consultations this leads, over time, to an increase in women’s political participation. Such increases in women’s political engagement in turn lead to improved human development outcomes in areas such as education, health, and infrastructure.

While conflicts over resources are not new, climate change and population growth are combining to drive an increase in the number of resource conflicts.3 As conflict has shifted from traditional inter-state warfare to intra-state hostilities, smaller more localized conflicts are increasing due to competition for limited natural resources. Water is a prime example of this problem. A recent Intelligence Community Assessment of Global Water Security released by the U.S. government, suggests that “use of water as a weapon will become more common during the next 10 years with more powerful upstream nations impeding or cutting off downstream flow”. Communities are on the frontlines of these tensions that flare over the competition between resources needed for human survival (food, land and water) and those required for economic development and job creation (e.g. land used for forestry rather than farming). For example, in Kerala, India, communities suffered when groundwater was overly depleted by Coca-Cola for the purpose of manufacturing soft drinks. Resolving, and ideally, preventing such conflicts requires the inclusive engagement and negotiating skills of all members of a community, particularly women. 

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Strengthening Women’s Voices for Greater Impact

CBI created a political acumen program for development leaders in response to a request from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the beginning of his first term. CBI worked closely with UN agencies and the UN Secretariat to translate “political acumen” into a framework and tools for assessing and building the skills of UN Resident Coordinators, country Representatives and other senior agency leaders to achieve development results in very challenging multi-stakeholder contexts. We have adapted the political acumen framework for skill-building with government, NGO and corporate leaders.

We have also integrated a set of insights and skills that are particularly important for women leaders in development, through our work with UN Women and other organizations. While it is true that all leaders need political acumen to maximize their effectiveness, we focus on women both because their voices are more often marginalized than men’s and also because research and experience show the strong link between increasing women’s participation in community dialogue, politics and development decision making to improve human development outcomes and reduce corruption.

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For more information, please contact Mil Niepold, Senior Mediator or Rachel Milner Gillers, Senior Associate.