The collective power we need to achieve a gender inclusive world

‘The quest for gender equality is woven from the threads of collective action, embracing the voices of all who advocate for the fundamental rights of humanity.’—Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, an internationally acclaimed Nigerian writer.


In today's fast-changing world, it is only through the power of the collective that we can meet the many challenges we face. But Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's emphasis on the 'voices of all' is what gives us true inspiration because, as history has shown us, the collective is not a homogenous unit. The 'collective' is often entrenched in power dynamics and long-held mindsets and beliefs, which can lead to multiple forms of exclusion.

Collective power is embedded in many communities and identities.

Fridah Wanjiku Irungu, a 26-year-old agroecology champion from Kenya, has enthusiastically taken up the responsibility of mobilising farmers in her community to adopt sustainable farming approaches. Despite being young, she has become a leading voice in Gathinja Village, Kiharu Constituency, Murang'a County—a position not typically held by someone her age.

Fridah is among the county's Greener Greens project-trained young agroecology champions helping promote organic crop production. She has created a trustworthy base of both men and women who buy into her vision of a fully organic, vegetable-producing, consuming community. 'Nobody wants to eat vegetables pumped with chemicals,' she said emphatically. Her love for nature has turned into a flourishing and sustainable livelihood and a significant movement for the farmers in her community to prioritise ecological balance and limit the use of chemical inputs.

Fridah is not only changing the farming landscape in her community but also giving young people a visible voice in climate action.

Greener Greens training course.

Collective power is a 'sharing' one that lifts others to reach their full potential.

Dechen Peldon, a resident of the village of Lhamoizingkha in Bhutan, was among several women who attended a training course on managing a climate-resilient water supply system.

Dechen had never considered taking a training course before. Often, important information did not reach her, or she was too busy attending to her day-to-day responsibilities. Following the Tshogpa's (elected sub-district leader) call for women to participate, Dechen's exercise of her agency – i.e., the decision to participate – was not an easy process due to the many physical and imagined barriers to her participation.

'Lifting others' was manifested through the course organisers’' strategy of eliminating participation roadblocks, e.g., offering free meals, transport, and per diems. Dechen's partner encouraged her participation and volunteered to take up household chores himself. After the course, Dechen felt more determined than ever to encourage more women to participate in skills-building training. She used her new skills to fix her water pipeline and taught her sister to maintain her water system.

Dechen Peldon, during climate resilent training.

Collective (and more representative) power is boosted by instituting inclusive measures.

In a patriarchal society, women-headed businesses may face barriers to access electricity in comparison with those not headed by women.

The Gender Equality Seal in Mozambique, a collaboration between the SNV-implemented BRILHO programme and CESET was approved in 2023 and seeks to bridge this access gap. Developing the first GESI seal for the energy sector provides a practical approach and tools to incentivise, monitor and recognise the inclusion and empowerment of women as employees in technical and leadership positions. It is a minimum standard for mini-grid operators, establishing a set of criteria and commitments for them to receive certification. It requires the integration of gender equality within operators' employee ranks, the establishment of conditions for equal opportunity employment, and the creation of a local technical facilitation unit by operators to accelerate sustainable energy connections for households led by females.The seal is turning into a powerful instrument in creating a more equitable and inclusive energy sector in Mozambique. The seal has Supported energy companies to integrate GESI into their business models through Gender Action Plans and safeguarding policies. And leadership training for a selected group of women working in the public and private energy sector to become influencers towards a more inclusive future within their institutions and the off-grid energy market.

During the launch of the gender seal.

In our journey towards achieving gender equality, the experiences of Fridah Wanjiku Irungu and Dechen Peldon underscore the importance of investing in women and empowering individuals and entire communities. The Gender Equality Seal in Mozambique is an excellent example of how inclusive measures can promote a more equitable and representative society.

As we continue to move forward, let us advocate for the voices of all as a key strategy to advance from #InspiringInclusion to securing inclusion.

To learn more about our GESI approach