As 2020 draws to a close, the COVID-19 pandemic has proven we cannot wait to close the gender gap. In many areas and spheres it is both widening and deepening, and becoming embedded in our structures, data and technology.  Globally women and girls continue to carry the care burden, formal work is undervalued and underpaid, and too many are experiencing even more insecurity and gender-based violence with confinement measures. We now need to get ahead of the gender inequality curve.

Earlier this year the IGC Secretariat asked Champions to take part in the 'Gender Champions Challenge' to find out what works, what are the glass ceilings and challenges, and what needs to come next within their organisations. Champions identified that continuous research and positive shifts towards better work-life balance have been essential. Gaps and areas for further progress include diversifying recruitment processes and applying an intersectional approach to workplace policies to ensure all employees needs are met.

Three of our International Gender Champions have shared their initiatives to advance inclusive organisational cultures: Ms. Pamela Coke-Hamilton (ITC) on a cross-organisational mentoring programme; Mr. Rafael Mariano Grossi (IAEA) on an week of activities to support the implementation of the U.N. Enabling Environment Guidelines in Vienna; and Ambassador Sally Mansfield (Australian Mission to UNOG & Conference on Disarmament) on Mission changes and reflections during Covid-19.


Looking to the future, Champions shared during annual meetings that increased collaboration, capitalising on big data and strategic analysis, are essential to overcome the new challenges posed by COVID-19, and  are all vital aspects to ensure 2021 is a productive year for the IGC network.

In 2021, the IGC will be going deeper on thematic topics as it will join the ‘NEST’, a network of networks organised by the UN Foundation to socialise and amplify Generation Equality. The IGC network has already been driving substantial change in many of the Generation Equality levers such as engaging men and boys, working at the highest levels of leadership, reforming laws and policies, gathering data and addressing intersectional discrimination. However, there is more the IGC network can and will do in the upcoming year to drive the Gender Equality Forum’s six Action Coalitions focused upon gender-based violence; economic justice and rights; bodily autonomy and sexual reproductive health and rights; feminist action for climate justice; technology and innovation for gender equality; and feminist movements and leadership forward.

While 2020 has not been a typical year in almost any sense of the word, the IGC network is leaving it and entering 2021 with more wisdom, perspective, resilience and lessons learned. We encourage our community to translate our insights now into more ambitious and targeted, S.M.A.R.T. commitments and even more powerful initiatives for the coming year. With Generation Equality, we have a framework for more meaningful and deep collaborations and, in 2021, the IGC network will come together to accomplish all that we need to get ahead of the inequality gender curve.