How UNDP Country Offices are Shaping Generation Equality

UNDP People for 2030
5 min readMar 8, 2022

International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8 March presents us with an opportunity to reflect on the ever-present struggles that women face on a daily basis. In line with UN Women’s campaign “Generation Equality: Realizing women’s rights for an equal future” we have chosen to highlight two innovative initiatives from UNDP Peru and UNDP Costa Rica. These initiatives further the People for 2030 focus area: Foster and Leverage Our Diversity, a purposeful investment into strengthening an open, respectful, non-discriminatory and inclusive workplace across the organization.

The Generation Equality campaign aims to bring together people of every gender, age, ethnicity, race, religion and country, to drive actions that will create the gender-equal world we all deserve. It encourages us to imagine a world where all people have equal rights and opportunities. In this world, gender equality is the norm, and men and boys are not trapped in oppressive masculinities. We are pleased to share that our colleagues in the Peru and Costa Rica offices are not only imagining change, but they are also walking the talk by launching holistic, long-term initiatives that promote gender equality through transformative actions.

UNDP Peru Gender Champions: ‘No estás sola’ — You are not alone initiative

These past two years have truly changed the way we work and in one way or another, we have all had to embrace new skills and behaviors, while finding creative manners to support our team wellbeing. To address these issues, the Peru Country Office introduced a number of initiatives to ensure that their team members were fully connected and supported. One of those initiatives was the creation of an internal network of “Gender Champions”, capitalizing on the success of one of the CO portfolio initiatives: “No estás sola” — You are not alone. A response to the increase of victims of gender-based violence, or at risk of being so, with resources to promote a culture of equality and positive masculinities, through the dissemination of prevention messages against this type of violence, development of awareness processes, capacity building and construction of response protocols.

Photo: Poster from the ‘No estás sola’ initiative

This gender and diversity awareness initiative was a product of a team effort, human resources in collaboration with a gender specialist. The goal was to promote internal training for personnel from all areas and backgrounds who were interested in becoming “Gender Champions.” “The workshops attendance included both men and women which was a change from the past, where our audience — for gender related training — was usually mainly composed of women” said Peru People Champion, Giovanna Povis.

Photo: ” No estás sola” workshop in action with Giovanna Povis (People Champion), Mixy Paredes (Gender specialist) and the “gender champions” from the Peru Country Office.

In total there were 4 modules that focused on Gender Violence, Masculinities, Care Work and Domestic Work and Co-responsibility. The participants had an opportunity to learn at their own pace about gender equality challenges in order to improve awareness. There were also workshops facilitated by the Gender specialist, who also was responsible for guiding the participants in a safe space to talk and understand protocols and communications toolkits. In line with creating a sustainable tomorrow for gender equality, Povis remarked, “We are continuing with this project, and we will develop a second group of champions this year. This is because the aim is to not just develop better professionals on the work front but also more sensitive human beings on the personal front.”

Judging from colleagues’ testimonies, it is clear that the efforts of the Peru Country Office were a great success.

“These workshops were a very interesting space for me. It helped me deepen my knowledge of various gender equality-related topics, but most important, it was a safe space to get to know my colleagues better and how they were dealing with these concepts in their lives. Especially during lockdown when care-related work, traditionally relegated to women, increased exponentially, it was very interesting to share with everybody how we were managing this new reality with equality.

UNDP Costa Rica: From gender responsive to gender transformative

With the socio-economic impacts of COVID19, the UNDP Costa Rica office acknowledges that the only way to accelerate the achievement of Agenda 2030 is if women from diverse backgrounds are placed at the centre. Therefore, they introduced three strategies to attain that goal.

The first was to change the organization’s culture from gender responsive to gender transformative. To this end, a framework called “Group of Men for Equality” was put in place. Growing evidence shows that working with men and boys can be very beneficial to the empowerment of women and girls. “This move is critical in ensuring men’s active involvement in reversing historical inequalities for women and promoting transformations of the current discriminatory gender social norms,” said José Vicente Troya Rodríguez, Resident Representative, UNDP Costa Rica. The second strategy implemented was boosting the recruitment of women from diverse backgrounds where the Costa Rica Country Office has achieved many firsts, such as the hiring of the first trans-woman as a gender technical specialist, the first woman driver of the Resident Representative, as well as the hiring of the first young Indigenous woman as a technical advisor for their Green Climate Fund environmental project.

Photo: Costa Rica office’s ‘declaration of the office as a safe space’

In addition to this, and in line with another People for 2030 focus area ‘Take Care of Our People’, which aims at ensuring that our personnel work in a safe and healthy environment that contributes to their self-fulfilment and protects their dignity, the Costa Rica office created the ‘declaration of the office as a safe space’ free of, and with zero tolerance towards, sexual harassment and sexual exploitation. All personnel signed this written compact to commit to fighting sexual harassment for a transformative change for the people and by the people. With all the great milestones that the UNDP Costa Rica office has achieved, it comes as no surprise that in 2021 they achieved gold certification for the Global Gender Equality Seal.

Furthermore, the Costa Rica Country Office was one of the winners of the People Awards 2021 for their holistic gender transformative approach. In this video we hear from the Resident Representative José Vicente Troya Rodríguez about the motivation behind their initiative and how People for 2030 has been instrumental in its implementation.

UNDP has continued to support the empowerment of women over the last two years with programmes specifically designed for women, and was recently awarded the EDGE MOVE certification, which is the second-highest certification award issued by EDGE, the Economic Dividends for Gender Equality. UNDP is one of only two UN agencies to achieve this distinction. This certification acknowledges the significant progress UNDP has made towards realizing gender equality and confirms our commitment to building a more inclusive workplace and world.