6 June 2015, Geneva, Switzerland - Following the success of the WMO Conference on the Gender Dimensions of Weather and Climate Services in 2014, the first activity under UNITAR’s new Women’s Leadership Programme took place during the Seventeenth World Meteorological Congress (Cg-17).  With over 20 participants, including Permanent Representatives, and other senior members of delegations, the workshop succeeded in providing a positive, empowering and engaging environment for learning, self-reflection and development and the building of a strong network amongst women and female professionals in the field of meteorology.

Women’s participation in leadership roles remains a high priority as we celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and move towards a new post-2015 development agenda, calling for the integration of gender equality perspectives across all goals. UNITAR’s new Women’s Leadership Programme was launched hand-in-hand with UN Women, in partnership with the UN System including UNDP, UNISDR and the UNFCCC on 26 May 2015 (https://www.wmo.int/media/content/women%E2%80%99s-leadership-programme-showcased-congress).

The Women’s Leadership Programme seeks to deliver on the challenging goals of achieving gender parity and promoting equal leadership opportunities for women within governments particularly in the context of multilateral decision making fora.  On Saturday 6 June, the Women’s Leadership Workshop for female delegates to the WMO Congress kick-started the Programme with an impactful and inspiring activity encouraging participants to critically asses what characterizes a strong leader, appreciate personal strengths as a woman in leadership, strengthen the application of key high priority skills for effective performance, and build personal confidence, identity and direction. 

The workshop for WMO delegates was the first in a series to take place in Geneva, New York and in other UN Headquarters, for female diplomats and government officials, accredited to the UN and its multilateral fora.

The workshop on 6 June was opened by the World Meteorological Organisation, UNITAR and UN Women, with special remarks from ASG Elena Manaenkova (WMO), Emily Fraser (UNITAR) and Verona Collantes (UN Women).  The workshop was facilitated by Ambassdor Tania Dussey-Cavassini, special advisor and facilitator for UNITAR’s Women’s Leadership Programme, who combines experience in global health, management consulting, executive education, diplomacy and law enforcement.   

The workshop included a high-level armchair discussion on Womens’s Leadership in Science and Technology, with interventions made by Ms. Laura Furgione (Deputy Administrator for Weather Services and National Weather Service Deputy Director, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA), Her Excellency Ambassador Yvette Stevens (Permanent Representative of the Republic of Sierra Leone to the United Nations Office and other International Organizations in Geneva), Her Excellency Ambassador Maria Ciobanu (Permanent Representative of Romania to the United Nations Office and other International Organizations in Geneva), Ms. Chadia Wannous (Senior Advisor, UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, UNISDR), and Ms. Verona Collantes (Inter-Governmental Specialist, UN Women).  These high-level women spoke about their personal experience, success, challenges and lessons-learned throughout their careers and their paths into leadership. They spoke with specific reference to their experience in science and technology including meteorology, engineering, aeronautics and medicine, addressing some of the specific challenges that women frequently face in fields where they are underrepresented.

The workshop was interactive and dynamic, providing an open and neutral environment for participants to share ideas, feelings, commonalities, challenges and opportunities, in a mindful and facilitated programme which guided and supported the common learning experience.

The evaluations of the workshop were extremely positive, asking for further workshops in the near future.

“This training really helped me to define what I am as a woman leader. Many problems I’ve faced in the past which I could not name have been raised and discussed in this workshop. The discussion has been very thought provoking and helpful to my future career development”

Workshop participants will remain connected through UNITAR’s alumni network. UNITAR looks forward to working with UN Women and other UN Partners and Member States to deliver similar workshops in the near future.

For more information, please contact Emily Fraser and/or Emily Bradley at womensleadership@unitar.org

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