"Give a voice to gender equality" - Dee Jas, People Director at Girl Effect
- 3 Min Read
Today is International Women’s Day, and to mark this incredible day, HRD Connect spoke with Dee Jas, People Director at Girl Effect.
Girl Effect was founded by the Nike Foundation in 2004. Today they are an independent creative non-profit working from nine global locations and active in 66 countries with the intention to end global poverty. Girl Effect’s work is based on the belief that when given the opportunity, girls can lift their countries out of poverty.
To mark International Women’s Day – when do you believe that positions of leadership between men and women might start becoming more even?
They say it will take a further 217 years to achieve gender parity in the workforce and politics*. Societal change takes time, and gender equality is a long game. What’s really shifted progress is giving ‘voice’ to these issues – for example, gender pay gay reporting is useful as a practice, but it is forcing business to look at themselves and why gaps exist – and more importantly, how to make progress. This acceleration leads me to believe that the trend is positive, and that we’ll be in a markedly different place 10 years from now… We don’t need 217, nor should we accept it!
“A shift in this area can unlock potential and truly build a merit-based culture”
At Girl Effect you empower women to achieve goals that perhaps felt out of their reach – can you cite one example of this happening?
We use a peer to peer research tool called TEGA (Technology Enabled Girl Ambassadors), whereby girls in the markets we operate carry out research with other girls using a mobile handset. The tool itself is revolutionary and gives us authentic insights, but also important, as we training girls to become TEGAs, we support their professional development (with accreditation via the Market Research Society). This, in turn, reinforces economic empowerment, a critical lever in achieving change for girls, as well as providing them with the confidence and skills to develop their careers. It opens up new pathways for girls and gives them real opportunity.
As People Director at Girl Effect, how would you like to see attitudes to women change in the coming years – what needs to be addressed?
In the workplace, we’re working hard to ensure notions of gendered work are challenged (what is a man’s job vs. a woman’s job) and eliminated. A shift in this area can unlock potential and truly build a merit-based culture. In addition, we are looking to shift attitudes towards parents (of any gender) and time off, recognising this is a critical point when the gender pay gap comes into being.
I’m a passionate advocate for human rights, and would love to see us value one another and be curious, learn and ask questions more often! It’s the only way to challenge our assumptions and change attitudes.
Compassion is key!