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Our Mission


Leadership of Women

Leadership of women in the economy, society and political decision-making is vital to achieving gender equality, sustainable development and peace. Leadership of women is about their human right to have strategic voice and meaningful participation and influence over public and private decisions that determine their lives. Yet the progress in this regard has remained slow. Despite their proven abilities as leaders and agents of change in all aspects of life, women continue to be under-represented in decision making in the household, national parliaments, local governments, public administration, judiciary, global governance, political parties, trade unions and civil society organisations, as community leaders, in the private sector, media, academia and global governance. Women’s limited presence in decision-making at all levels also leads to significant under-representation of women at the highest levels of leadership. There is a number of barriers that inhibit progress in the area of women’s leadership, such as: discriminatory norms and practices; harmful gender stereotypes, attitudes and perceptions held by both women and men with regard to their respective roles in society and the family; institutional barriers; unequal allocation and access to resources and opportunities.

Economic empowerment of women

Economic empowerment of women, according to the OECD, is defined as their capacity to participate in, contribute to and benefit from growth processes in ways that recognize the value of their contributions, respect their dignity and make it possible to negotiate fairer distribution of the benefits of growth. Women’s economic empowerment enables women to enjoy economic rights and make decisions that impact their own lives and influence others. It opens up opportunities for women to achieve other dimensions of empowerment, including political and social empowerment. In addition to its intrinsic value, women’s economic empowerment can contribute to the achievement of other key development goals. (Based on: Report of the Secretary General on Economic empowerment of women, Chaper I, 2 for the 56th Session of CSW.)

Empowerment of women

The empowerment of women is the process by which women take control over their lives, acquiring the ability to make strategic choices. Women’s empowerment has five components: women’s sense of self-worth; their right to have and to determine choices; their right to have access to opportunities and resources; their right to have power to control their own lives, both within and outside the home; and their ability to influence the direction of social change to create a more just social and economic order, nationally and internationally. Empowerment of women and girls is an important strategy to eradicate poverty. (Based on Agreed conclusions on eradicating poverty, including through the empowerment of women throughout their life cycle, in a globalizing world, CSW 2002)

Political Participation

Women’s political participation is a fundamental prerequisite for gender equality and genuine democracy. It facilitates women’s direct engagement in public decision-making and is a means of ensuring better accountability to women. Political accountability to women begins with increasing the number of women in decision-making positions, but it cannot stop there. What is required are gender-sensitive governance reforms that will make all elected officials more effective at promoting gender equality in public policy and ensuring their implementation.The proportion of women parliamentarians at the national level has increased by 8 percent in the decade from 1998 to 2008, to the current global average of 18.4 percent. Yet, around the world, gender equality in democratic governance continues to be extremely limited and is still a long way from reaching the “parity zone” of 40–60 percent.Many factors hinder women’s political participation, such as political parties being slow to respond to women’s interest, under-investment in women’s campaigns, cultural barriers, and conflicting demands on the time of women candidates due to their domestic and social responsibilities. Quotas and other temporary special measures, such as reserved seats, are a proven means for supporting women’s engagement in political competition.

Equal Economic opportunities

Women’s equal economic opportunity is defined as a set of laws, regulations, practices, customs and attitudes that allow women to achieve economic autonomy, to participate in the workforce under conditions equal to those of men, whether as wage-earning employees or as owners of a business, and to exert power over economic structures in their societies. Women’s economic opportunities continue to be restricted by discrimination in education and training, hiring and remuneration, promotion and horizontal mobility practices, as well as inflexible working conditions, lack of access to productive resources and inadequate sharing of family responsibilities, combined with a lack of or insufficient services such as child care. Legal and customary barriers to ownership of or access to land, natural resources, capital, credit, technology and other means of production, as well as wage differentials, contribute to impeding the economic progress of women. About 90% of countries have at least one law that impeded women’s equal economic opportunities.

Decision Making

Women’s active participation in decision-making is key to the achievement of gender equality. The Beijing Platform for Action uses the concept of power and decision-making and deals with women’s representation in both legislative and executive bodies as well as in the field of law and judiciary. The concept of power and decision-making includes important preparatory stages of the decision-making process. Apart from public bodies at all levels, women’s participation in decision-making also concerns political parties, trade unions, employer organizations, non-governmental organizations, community based organizations, the private sector, academic and scientific institutions, mass media as well as regional and international organizations including the United Nations system. The Beijing Platform for Action states that without the active participation of women and the incorporation of women’s perspective at all levels of decision-making, the goals of equality, development and peace cannot be achieved.

Women’s Organizations

Women’s organizations (WO) are part of the civil society and of the non-governmental organizations. WO are non-profit, voluntary female citizens’ groups organized on a grassroots’, local, national or international level, and dedicated to a wide range of topics related to women’s and girl’s rights and interests. Women’s organisations, including community-based organizations, feminist groups, women human rights defenders and girls’ and youth-led organizations, promote, inter alia, issues of women’s empowerment and gender equality, provide analysis and expertise, serve as early warning mechanisms and help monitor and implement international agreements. There is a broad diversity of women’s organizations with differing goals, values and convictions, not necessarily agreeing among each other. Some women’s organizations have more or less intense relationships with National Women’s Machineries or with Women’s offices and agencies of the United Nations. They are most valuable partners for these institutions in placing the interests, needs and visions of women and girls on local, national, regional and international agendas, including the 2030 Agenda.

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