For International Women’s Day 2020, we reached out to our DT Global colleagues across the world to ask what gender equality means to them. We wanted to know how people think about gender equality, why it’s important, the challenges we all face in achieving it, and how we are helping to bring gender equality into the lives of the communities we serve. The post below showcases some of the responses from across our offices in the US, EU, Australia, and the field, and check out our social media channels for more quotes, videos, and stories on how our work is changing lives for girls and women around the world.

Have you ever faced any challenges as a woman related to your role in infrastructure area and how have you overcome it? There are only a few women working in the area of road infrastructure and there is a stigma that women are not suitable to be working in this area, especially in field work. To combat this, we must work hard to prove that we are capable of carrying out the job well. Working in this field makes me aware of what good can happen when we are chosen for jobs based on capabilities regardless of the gender, because male and female workers are equal in terms of professionalism and capabilities at work. I believe that women must be given the same opportunity and trust as men to pursue a career in engineering. Of course, without forgetting our identity as a woman. 

How have we helped to raise the profile of and create equality for women in our work? I’m very honored to work in a company where gender is not a challenge but an added value that enriches our teams and ways of work. For instance, in our offices in Europe, we have complete gender balance in our positions, and we have introduced real measures to support family life balance, like flexible hours, working from home, nursery check. In our projects we are trying to avoid gender bias in sectors that have been male dominated for decades and have a large number of female experts and team leaders. We have walked a long way to be here today, and although there is still much work to do, I’m confident we will continue conquering gender equality milestones so that our girls will know a much fairer world than our grandmothers ever did.

What does gender equality mean to you? As a woman of color, I believe that gender equality is all about creating inclusive, safe, and engaged communities where all women, men, and LGBTQIA individuals are given equal access to opportunities, resources and rights. At core, it’s about instilling dignity and respect for others regardless of how they chose to identify and express themselves.

What is the biggest change we need for true gender equality? Universally, we’ve made great advancements in empowering women and girls to amplify their voices in the face of discrimination, but it’s imperative to encourage and empower men and boys to be champions for gender equality and become change agents in environments where gender inequality persists. 

What does gender equality mean to you? That employment opportunities and career paths at DT Global and other companies are gender neutral; and that the programming that we are able to design and deliver is gender aware to the greatest possible extent given the implementation environment.

How have we helped to raise the profile of and create equality for women in our work? When we are intentional about engaging women on our program teams and designing activities to amplify the voices and advance the aspirations of women and girls—for example, our program staff in Mali and Sudan, our young engineers in Somalia, or our trauma awareness specialists in South Sudan.

What does gender equality mean to you?  Equal access to opportunities and rights. This is what gender equality means to me. While in the last years gender equality and the challenges that our societies face have gained quite a lot of visibility, we still have a long way to go. No matter where in the world we are, there is always some kind of challenge in getting equal access to resources, in access to decision-making spheres, in access to education or even in equality in the labor markets. While these differences are clearly greater in some countries than others (likewise the gap that needs to be bridged to achieve true gender equality), we need to step up our efforts and put in place mechanisms and regulations that support gender equality if we want to start reversing this long-seen trend.

What is the biggest change we need for true gender equality? There is no one solution, rather a series of tailored approaches to address each and every context and particular societal norms. Fundamental and what can apply everywhere is how we address our biases and culture. Activating and enrolling men in the fight for gender equality will help to build cultures of respect and fairness as will a concerted effort to instill values in our children on equality and anti-gender bias as we work toward a future free from inequality. 

Why do you think gender equality is important? My role involves working with people every day. On so many occasions I’ve interfaced with women who are so talented and have so much to offer but have been limited due to cultural, societal, and business norms. Communities, businesses, and governments have failed when they overlook the talent that is right in front of them as a result of their subconscious biases. Gender equality is paramount for a better world. 

Why do you think gender equality is important? Because we have lived for centuries in a male dominated world and nothing has brought peace and solutions to our problems. The female voice is missed from declarations of war and peace and anything else in between. Meanwhile, history keeps repeating itself and we continue to witness human and natural disasters that often can be avoided. When women are in charge and play by their rules and not “business as usual” everyone wins – women, men, children, youth, elders and ecosystems. Hence, that is why gender equality is important in numbers, voice, and participation.

What does gender equality mean to you? Equality is about ensuring that every individual has an equal opportunity to make the most of their lives and talents.  

What does gender equality mean to you? It means women being really seen and just as token figures. It means being viewed as real partners, not just appeasement measures. It means embracing out power to give birth, breast-feed, be feminine, speak with passion and still be in leadership positions of authority. Gender equality to me means being perfectly ENOUGH as a woman!

What is the biggest change we need for true gender equality? Men need to acknowledge that we—as a society and an industry—all have to make intentional efforts toward gender equality.

How have we helped to raise the profile of and create equality for women in our work? DT Global is making an intentional effort to create gender and diversity balance at the senior leadership level through hiring and promoting women. 

What does gender equality mean to you?  I still view this through the related but different elements of equity and equality; fairness and opportunity. It means that everyone is treated equally, being afforded the same rights as anyone else, and that a person’s gender should have no bearing on the future they can create and participate in for themselves.

What is the biggest change we need for true gender equality? The biggest change we need for a true gender equality are 1) Involve all genders in the change mechanism 2) give women and men the true equal opportunity to represent in decision making roles, 3) give women and men the same pay and remove the pay gap 4) prioritize safety for women (who are often subject to abuse) and 5) provide equal-opportunity for women-owned businesses.

Why do you think gender equality is important? In the developing world, if we want sustainable development and expect change, then gender equality is crucial. This means a society where women and men enjoy the same opportunity and rights to life. If we imagine a world with equality where men and women have the same rights and opportunities, this would be a safer and healthier world. Women and men will have the same access to power, resource and opportunity and be treated the same with respect and fairness. All genders must agree and work together on these fundamental effort and changes. This is good for everyone—for families, for the community, and for the world.

Why do you think gender equality is important? 

For me, gender equality is important for sustainable development of the society, including economic and intellectual development. In Vietnam as well as in other countries, women present fifty percent of the population. So, if we only focus on development for men then where will women be? Gender equality is important for not only for me, but for Vietnam’s development in general.

What does gender equality mean to you? To me, gender equality means every individual has the same rights and access to opportunity, regardless of whether they are born male or female.  It means we approach the world and our work through a lens of inclusivity and view our diversity as a strength that unites us, not as something that should divide us.

What does gender equality mean to you? Equality elicits notions of power differentials to me: Who makes decisions? Who is affected? Who benefits? Gender equality also reminds me of the difference between equality and equity. Equality is when you give two people the same ladder to reach fruit in a tree. Equity is when you recognize that a 10’ ladder won’t help the 5’ person in the same way as it will help the 6’ person. So, equity could involve providing an 11’ ladder to the shorter person so they can access the same fruits.