“Working with the IFRC has and is bringing me enormous personal satisfaction. I feel that I can contribute to the best of my abilities and experience to a cause dear to my heart. I work and interact with great and very diverse people sharing the same values and commitment. I get to travel all over the world and remain in touch with the realities of the people we serve, and of volunteers and staff who do the ‘real’ work.”
With experience from both ICRC and IFRC, Pascale is keen to improve the collective Movement approach to emergencies. “Looking at the past three and a half years, I have been involved in all major emergencies around the globe requiring IFRC support to National Societies, from cyclones to food crises, earthquakes and tsunamis to population movements, disease outbreaks to major floods, volcano eruptions to landslides. In each emergency I learn something: whether on the nature of the hazard, on how much science is able to help us predict and respond, on how best to support National Societies as per their institutional and country contexts, on what works and does not work to have a collective Movement approach.
– Pascale Meige, IFRC
“In terms of diversity, my dream is that we would no longer need to make special efforts to redress bias”
Of course diversity is important! The world’s population is diverse, and leadership, particularly in an international and membership organisation, needs to embrace this diversity in order to ensure that it grasps the challenges appropriately and prioritizes action without bias. For a humanitarian organisation like ours, diverse leadership also helps ensuring that we deliver our work with full impartiality and without discrimination. Gender balance is a very important component of diversity, and without equal representation at leadership level we will continue to experience bias in decision-making.
– Pascale Meige, IFRC
“We must demonstrate that leadership can be exercised in very diverse ways”
Leadership positions in IFRC are still associated with a certain model corresponding more to ‘masculine norms’. Women might not identify themselves with what is seen as expected behaviours and attitudes at leadership level, and hence will have limited appetite to access such positions. There is progress in Geneva, however not yet in senior field positions which are closer to the action on ground.
We need to encourage women with potential to apply for leadership positions, offer women a trusted space to discuss their professional growth, support access to women leadership workshops (in which the issue of ‘masculine norms’ of leadership is deconstructed), and celebrate maternity! On the latter, creating a supportive environment during pregnancy and upon return from maternity leave is very important. Women should never feel guilty for bearing children, and for needing an adapted work-life balance for a certain period of their life.”
7 young women for every 10 young men complete upper secondary school in low-income countries. If we want more future female leaders, we need to close the gender gap in education.