Women make up 75% of humanitarian workforce, yet unrepresented in leadership

Media release
08 March 2017

Despite the large number of women who work in aid and development, women in humanitarian organisations are just as under-represented in positions of leadership as other industries.

A report released today by the Centre for Humanitarian Leadership, a collaborative initiative between Deakin University and Save the Children, highlights the many gaps that exist in understanding the challenges that humanitarian organisations face in achieving gender equality, as well as the substantial research gaps that exist in this area.

Kate Sutton, co-author of the report prepared in collaboration with the Humanitarian Advisory Group, said that as we celebrated International Women’s Day the results of the report were a timely reminder there was still much work to be done to address gender equality in leadership of the humanitarian workforce.

“It is remarkable that despite the high number of women who work in Aid and Development compared to other industries that we still find that they do not occupy a proportional number of senior leadership positions,” Ms Sutton said.

“It would appear that even though the workforce in the non-profit sector can be up to 75% female, in places such as the United States only 43% of CEOs are female. In Australia the story is similar, and within the UN women comprise only 27% of the most senior roles.”

The Centre for Humanitarian Leadership is committed to helping organisations and women addressing the challenges we face in achieving gender equality.

Sophie Perreard, Course Director of the Centre for Humanitarian Leadership’s flagship Humanitarian Leadership Program, said women in the humanitarian system face the same barriers as women in other sectors.

“At the Centre for Humanitarian Leadership we are working hard to help individuals and organisations address these challenges,” Ms Perreard said.

“This is not about achieving gender equality for the sake of equality, but acknowledging that women leaders are core to more effective organisations and more impactful humanitarian responses.  We want to see more women leaders in senior positions and this is why we endeavour to support those amazing women to grow in those roles.”

The Centre for Humanitarian Leadership will use the report to commission further research, as well as develop specific plans and activities with our partners to ensure that more women can occupy senior leadership positions in the humanitarian system.

The report can be viewed at http://bit.ly/2mUEpx0

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