“I Say No to Sexism” Campaign Re-launch and Panel Discussion

On Friday, 30th September, UNOG relaunched the International Gender Champions: I Say No To Sexism Campaign. On this day, 6 International Gender Champions – including Tatiana Valovaya – Director-General of UNOG and Martin Chungong, Secretary-General of the IPU and Chair of the IGC Global Board – joined forces to discuss this important campaign re-launch, with a spotlight on this year’s new core mandatory commitment the “Gender-based Violence Pledge”. 

Moderated by Esther Dingemans – Executive Director of the Global Survivors Fund and Founding Director of the Dr. Denis Mukwege Foundation – she opened the session with the powerful words:

“Casual sexism is anything but casual”

The panel discussed the importance of reviving the campaign: tracking global parity progress (see UNSD  The Gender Snapshot 2022 & women in politics statistics) and GBV (UNOCHA 2019 statistics & UNDESA gender trends and statistics) provides alarming statistics, globally cross cutting, with a scope that warrants stringent measures from all. Since its inception, the campaign has had rippling effects in challenging perceptions and facilitating systemic shifts related to gender (see IGC Annual Report 2021).

The panel debate had a very personal character: each panelist spoke of their personal experiences of sexism and GBV in the workplace, during their education or career development. These somber recounts mirrored the very reality that the Champions campaign to challenge, transform and improve, and demonstrates the drive each Champion upholds through their personal commitments.

Learn more about the 6 featured International Gender Champions and their personal commitments to the cause here:

Tatiana Valovaya | International Gender Champions

Martin Chungong | International Gender Champions

Federico Villegas | International Gender Champions

Michèle Taylor | International Gender Champions

Esther Dingemans | International Gender Champions

Maria Teresa T. Almojuela | International Gender Champions

Discussing the case of UNOG and the origins of the campaign, Tatiana Valavoya stated “the first step is to acknowledge the problem”. The I Say No to Sexism campaign was launched to challenge the problem of casual sexism in the workplace and the perceptions surrounding it. “Even after all these efforts, we think we need it more than ever” said Tatiana “so that we can achieve the same level of tolerance: that means zero”! Federico Villegas, who became a Champion before becoming President of the UN Human Rights Council, explained the complexity of the situation: “sexism is not only comments, it’s a mind frame”.

The panel called on decision-makers to join the fight against sexism. With an intrinsic link between sexism and human rights, and that beyond protecting individuals, it also jeopardizes democracy and nationhood. Organizations must address sexism in all its various forms.