Empowering women personnel at UNDP through People for 2030

UNDP People for 2030
5 min readJun 28, 2021


For our latest blog, we have chosen to highlight specific initiatives throughout UNDP that, through the implementation of People for 2030, contribute to the betterment and empowerment of UNDP’s women personnel’s experience.

Inspiring Women through UNDP’s SPARK Programme

(SPARK): Strive, perform, aspire, reimagine, and know.

The SPARK programme is a career development experience that is targeted towards women personnel across UNDP. The objective of this program is to provide participants with a comprehensive learning experience to not only help them develop their professional goals, but also their personal goals. The programme allows participants to become more self-aware and gain understanding about what motivates them. In parallel, it helps them to build professional action plans that combine learning how to build professional relationships with developing behaviours that support personal brand and career direction.

The SPARK program is an example of the holistic approach of People for 2030, combining two of the nine focus areas. The first is enhancing UNDP’s career experience by introducing a new career management framework which supports UNDP colleagues to navigate and manage their career. The second is developing our people and our people managers. The idea for the program stemmed from the 2018 General Staff Survey, which identified a number of challenges women were facing in terms of career development. “The goal of this program is to support these women, so they are able to take on more responsibility and find balance while increasing their self-confidence,” explained Betty Almonte, program manager for the UNDP SPARK programme. Once women graduate from the program, they are able to apply the strategies and techniques they have learned to their own professional development. 170 participants completed the first cohort in 2020. From the participant survey, 100% of participants agreed that they had a better understanding of their own role in developing their careers and how to overcome challenges in career development, while 97% would recommend the program to peers.

UNDP SPARK Programme

Registration for the SPARK Programme 2021 cohort will be opening soon, and the program will expand further in the future.

Creating the next generation of female leaders through the African Young Women Leaders (AYWL) Fellowship Programme

Attracting top talent is one of the nine focus areas for the People for 2030 strategy, and this program speaks to this strategy directly. The African Young Women Leaders Fellowship Programme was developed by the African Union Commission (AUC) and UNDP to recruit 21 young African women through fellowships to gain experience in UNDP offices worldwide. The Regional Bureau for Africa led the programme.

The program aims to have participants from all 54 African countries over time and provides a structured approach to areas such as skills development and giving exposure to different cohorts of leaders to maintain continuous learning. “We were able to provide these women with training through an African Leadership University, allowing them to learn how to use skills for future endeavors,” Eunice Kamwendo, a program manager for the AYWL Fellowship Programme and an advisor in the program itself, stated. Attracting top talent is one of the nine focus areas for the People for 2030 strategy, and this program speaks to this strategy directly. The program attracted over 6,000 applicants. Eventually, 21 fellows were selected from this highly competitive application process.

“This programme is about developing people from the ground up” Kamwendo explained. Each member of the cohort was paired with a supervisor so that they could see and learn more about the ins and outs of how UNDP works. This program not only provides an educational experience for the fellows, but it also provided a learning experience for the advisors. Advisors were able to teach fellows about what they do on a daily basis and allow them to take on challenges individually. “As advisors, we were all used to working with experienced professionals in UNDP. Therefore, the program not only allowed the fellows to grow as professionals, but it also taught [us] how to be better leaders,” Kamwendo remarked.

Another main focus area for People for 2030 is to foster and leverage diversity, and the African Young Women Leaders Fellowship Programme does exactly that. “There is a lack of access and opportunity for young women, and this programme opens up space to influence and increase diversity throughout UNDP,” Kamwendo stated. The first cohort for the AYWL Fellowship programme was a huge success, and 100% of survey respondents agreed that the programme shows UNDP is responding positively towards gender equality in poverty policies and practices throughout the world. The second cohort of the AYWL fellowship programme will be starting later this year.

Based upon this experience, a new broader Fellowship Policy and framework has been adopted under People for 2030, so that similar Fellowship scheme can be developed in UNDP, to the benefit of the entire organization. A further new initiative being introduced under People for 2030 is the new Graduate Programme, which will recruit graduates from UNDP’s programme countries for a two-year professional experience. The programme is being piloted this year.

UNDP and People for 2030 not only support the empowerment of women but all UNDP personnel. People for 2030 aims to make UNDP a place where individuals can grow professionally and learn skills that they can take with them throughout the rest of their careers and their futures. To learn more about the People for 2030 strategy and stories from UNDP women personnel click the links below.