There is a double difficulty in being a female leader in the SRHR field. First of all, women leaders still have to work three times harder than men to prove their worth; we are objectified, do not fit naturally in the old boys’ network, and we are still paid less than our male counterparts.
Some men and governments are not interested in women’s sexual health or rights. The “social” argument of gender equality and equal rights does not work in many cases. So my first piece of advice is to learn to speak the language. When you turn it into a business case, pointing out the return on investment for them, all of a sudden you have their attention. Although financial motivation is not always the most sincere, it eventually leads to the desired result: healthy, empowered women and communities.
Repeat your message. You might think you have explained it once already, but people need to hear everything at least eight times before it sinks in, especially coming from a woman. Make sure you stay top of mind with all key stakeholders and use different platforms, such as one-on-one meetings, conferences, side events, social media and partner collaborations.
Do not give up. In a world with persistent inequality and donors who constantly change the agenda, we need people who stay committed even when it feels you are the only one.