IFRC
”The idea of working with the whole world was very motivating for me”
In 2006, Nana Wiedemann was appointed Director of the IFRC Psychosocial Reference Centre, and since then she and her staff has worked in many emergencies, from Tsunami, Pakistan earthquake, Haiti, Cox Bazar etc. She was inspired by the idea of bringing mental health and psychosocial support to all National Societies, although the job has put her through a lot of challenges.
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IFRC

”It has been a great honour to be in my position, very rewarding, but also very lonely and stressful at times. For years I almost had to give up my personal life to survive in the position. It has been a huge mountain to climb, but now I feel that we have, maybe not reached the top, but at least basecamp close to the top.

Mainly, the idea has been to empower national societies to implement psychosocial programmes. To promote psychosocial wellbeing of staff, volunteers and beneficiaries globally (although we may no longer call them beneficiaries). It has inspired me to see how resilient many people are.

”Despite our cultural differences we still share the same feelings.”

– Nana Wiedemann, IFRC

I can’t really put my finger on what diversity in leadership really means to me – if I could, I would ask my staff. But reflecting on it, then I like to work with people from different parts of the world, of different colour, with different skills and personalities. I try to treat all with respect and with an understanding that although our skills differ that is also what makes our work shine – if we manage to embrace diversity.

I think the IFRC needs more female leaders. With more female leaders we would have more role models and hopefully a better network to shape the values and ways of managing and working with people. My experience is that I am where I am today, because I met some female leaders that helped me see that it is indeed possible to reach out for influence, and that even if you are not sure you are perfect for the job, you may still express you wish to influence and lead.

”In my opinion it’s still a male network and world, and it’s not easy to reach to the top.”

– Nana Wiedemann, IFRC

I think there are many ways to effect change; we can support each other as women, we can help each other, share lessons learned, help empower and promote women, show our vulnerability and our strengths and be open to show the softer side of our personalities. Sharing is caring, and the higher up you get, the more important it is to have safe spaces where we can open up and share without fearing exclusion.

I have many dreams, and one of them is that through the work of IFRC Psychosocial Reference Centre we can continue to make a difference and sensitize about the importance of mental health and psychosocial wellbeing, including in the workplace.”

Nana Wiedemann

IFRC, 2006

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Did you know...

Research shows that gender diverse managerial teams are related to positive performance outcomes.

– Barriers and Bias: The Status of Women in Leadership, American Association of University Women

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