Strengthening diversity: Women leaders in the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement

The Canadian Red Cross is committed to promoting gender equality and inclusion. Right now, only 21 per cent of national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies are women, despite fact that women make up 50 per cent of the staff.

Participants a the GLOW Red meeting in OttawaGLOW Red is a global network for women who are leaders in the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement around the world. The aim of this initiative is to promote more women leaders, while mentoring and coaching women to get them into those leadership places. The Canadian Red Cross serves a key role in GLOW Red, as the co-coordinator along with the Swedish Red Cross.

In September, the second annual GLOW Red meeting was held in Ottawa and brought together women leaders from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Vanuatu, Canada, Sweden, Australia, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, Maldives, Costa Rica, Uruguay, United States, and Cook Islands. The meeting had participants focus on the diverse backgrounds of the women, and how stratagies can be created to fit into different cultural contexts. There was also planning that looked to the future, and growth of the GLOW Red network.   

Pat Laberge is the Director of Global Programs for the Canadian Red Cross and took part in the GLOW Red meeting. She says networks like this are important because, “We know women have been present in aid work for many years, and we know there have been many key women who have helped shape the humanitarian landscape as we know it today, but they remain mostly anonymous...

We know that the more diverse we are, the stronger we are.  Leadership teams that are diverse, and that value their diversity, help make individual leaders stronger, and make better decisions together. Research shows that women play pivotal roles as agents of change in their communities and societies.”

“Ultimately," Pat said,  "leadership decisions from the top of an organization deeply impact an organization’s culture, and this, in turn impacts humanitarian outcomes”. Diversity in leadership is key in making sure programming supports diverse needs - GLOW Red will help to make sure the leadership in the Red Cross and Red Crescent has those diverse voices. 

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