Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change: Putting This Theme into Practice

Written by: EnCompass Staff,

This year, UN Women’s theme for International Women’s Day is think equal, build smart, innovate for change. The theme focuses on how we can advance gender equality and women’s empowerment in social protection systems, access to public services, and sustainable infrastructure. It also links to the Sustainable Development Goals, especially SDG5, and echoes the priority theme of the 63rd session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW63). Transformative shifts, integrated approaches, and new solutions are central to removing structural barriers and ensuring no one is left behind, across all SDGs.

What does this inspirational theme look like in practice?

From aspiration to action

The CSW63 priority theme is at the top of our minds this March 8, as we reflect on success, opportunities, and lessons learned about how to remove barriers and accelerate progress for gender equality, encourage investment in gender-responsive social systems, and build services and infrastructure that meet the needs of women and girls.

At the heart of EnCompass’ organizational mission is a commitment to innovative solutions that support positive change, and so we are especially proud to be part of the Transform: Primary Health Care project. Gender integration is a fundamental element of this project’s actions to generate change across the primary health system in the four most populous regions of Ethiopia, from improving household-level practices to enhancing programmatic learning to prevent maternal and child deaths.

Transform: Primary Health Care ProjectGender Strategy Vision By 2021, the Transform: Primary Health Care project has achieved gender and health transformational agendas through responsiveness to gender-based violence, and gender and health needs, with a focus on reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health and nutrition.

EnCompass has been tasked with leading an approach to gender integration in this complex project, moving from aspiration to action.

We started by thinking equal.

We began with a strong partnership and commitment among the implementing partners—Pathfinder, EnCompass, and others), the funder (USAID), and the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Health—to the centrality of addressing harmful gender norms and gender inequalities to achieve the project’s purpose of preventing child and maternal deaths. Our shared commitment to gender equality was our constant theme in planning and project design.

We built smart.

“Building” began with a gender analysis, designed collaboratively with USAID and the Federal Ministry of Health to identify what gender gaps and opportunities the project needed to address to achieve its results. Using the gender analysis findings, we collaboratively developed a gender strategy and vision to guide evidenced-based, gender-transformative interventions across project’s four result areas.

And, we’re continually innovating for change.

At EnCompass, we live and breathe the practical application of our tagline—Innovative Approaches for Organizational Excellence. For the Transform: Primary Health Care project, this means the gender strategy is a truly living document, one we revisit regularly to incorporate new learning, check our assumptions, and keep innovating toward our 2021 vision.

Living the gender strategy means being fully open to changing course, refining activities, or developing new ones to respond to emerging gender needs, gaps, and opportunities. In other words, we use the strategy to guide how project funds are invested, interventions are measured, and which actions are taken toward positive change for the health of all Ethiopians.

Our work on the Transform: Primary Health Care project is just one example of how EnCompass integrates gender in social protection systemsaccess to public services, and sustainable infrastructure.

This International Women’s Day, we invite you to join us in identifying ways to operationalize think equal, build smart, and innovate for change in your own work to build more inclusive systems, efficient services, and sustainable infrastructure that accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and gender equality—and to engage with representatives of Member States, United Nation entities, and nongovernmental organizations from around the world in at CSW63. We hope to see you there!

Photo by Chris Goldberg via Creative Commons

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EnCompass Staff

EnCompass offers innovative solutions for organizational excellence.  We seek to enhance the impact and capacity of government and multilateral agencies, corporations, and nonprofits around the world through customized services in organizational and leadership development, training, technical assistance, and evaluation.

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