The George Washington University Global Women’s Institute and UNICEF are collaborating to develop an innovative applied gender curriculum and certification for international development professionals.
The partnership comes with more than $800,000 in a competitive award from UNICEF for GWI to develop two-pronged learning and credentialing programs for development professionals. With UNICEF, other institutions and partners across the university, GWI will develop a 14-week GenderPro Capacity Building Program to prepare individuals in the field to work more effectively using internationally recognized best practices for gender analysis techniques, programming, measurement and other skills.
GWI and UNICEF are also partnering to develop a first-of-its-kind applied gender credential for development professionals, who work around the world in sectors like health, child protection and education. Once trained, gender specialists implement results-oriented international gender programming, and perform their duties to ensure that pervasive gender inequalities are addressed. When individuals demonstrate competency by meeting certain standards they will be able to apply and receive their GenderPro credentials through GWI. The GenderPro credential will signal relevant experience in the field of applied gender programming, and further efforts to formalize and standardize gender expertise.
These programs highlight GW’s leading role in international gender and development scholarship. GWI’s commitment to research, gender equality and women’s empowerment makes the university an ideal institution to be UNICEF’s collaborating partner on the GenderPro capacity building and credentialing programs, said Mary Ellsberg, founding director of GWI.
“We at the Global Women’s Institute are delighted to be working with UNICEF on such an important project,” Dr. Ellsberg said. “The work gender professionals do every day to empower women and girls around the world is critical, and we are honored to contribute to the strengthening and professionalization of this field.”
Anju Malhotra, principal adviser, gender and development at UNICEF, said that the GWI was competitively selected as the ideal partner for UNICEF in developing GenderPro because its proposed plan and expertise for developing GenderPro matched UNICEF’s ambition in seeing applied gender expertise a reality in the development field.
“Rigorous training focused on the practical application of gender is what is now most needed for mid-senior level international development professionals to help the global community achieve important aspects of gender equality embedded in the Sustainable Development Goals,” Dr. Malhotra said. “We are confident that GenderPro will contribute to the greater professionalization of the gender and development field, and in turn more sustainable programming results for all women and girls.”
The capacity building program will launch with a pilot cohort of UNICEF staff in early 2019. Over 14 weeks, participants will engage with facilitated online-learning modules and complete one week of in-person sessions on GW’s Foggy Bottom campus. Participants will also be mentored by faculty in an applied practicum project throughout the course of the program.
The capacity building program is aimed at professionals with several years of experience who are looking to build on their existing skills in the field and engage in discussions with colleagues from around the world.
All participants will take core coursework to enhance their ability to conduct an applied gender analysis of projects, programs and activities within different country contexts and integrate gender-responsive strategies and interventions that lead to more sustainable results. Participants will also choose one or both sector-focused course offerings with an emphasis on public health or social development.
Classes will be developed with guidance of faculty from the Elliott School of International Affairs, the Milken Institute School of Public Health, the School of Media and Public Affairs and the College of Professional Studies. The second cohort of the capacity building program will be open to applicants from UNICEF and other organizations in mid-2019.
The capacity building program is not a required prerequisite for the credential. The capacity development and credentialing components will be developed simultaneously but are distinct. Toni Marsh, founding director of GW’s paralegal studies master's degree and graduate certificate programs, will be heavily involved in developing the credentialing program. The credentialing system is expected to enhance the credibility of gender professional skills and contribute to professionalizing the field of gender and development.