COVID-19 opened the door to addressing structural inequalities and building a more inclusive and gender-equal society when GIZ held its GIZ Gender Week from 8-12 March 2021, starting, as it does every year, in the week of the International Women’s Day on 8 March. During the Gender Week, GIZ reviewed the effects of COVID-19, health and socio-economic crises and how they can contribute to safe-guarding achievements in gender equality against any deterioration and negative effects.
On 8 March 2021, the event was inaugurated by Henriette Geiger, the Director for ‘Human Development, Migration, Governance and Peace’ of the European Commission Directorate General for International Partnerships along with Ingrid-Gabriela Hoven, GIZ Managing Director. To kickstart the campaign, a high-level dialogue on the EU’s ambitious agenda for gender equality and women’s empowerment and how it guides GIZ in its implementation was held. The participants discussed the EU Gender Action Plan 2021-2025, EU policies and priorities related to gender justice, such as the LGBTIQ Equality Strategy for 2020-2025 and EU’s TEAM Europe approach and strategic engagement at the country, regional and multilateral levels. The importance and opportunities to address structural inequalities in GIZ’s work and its COVID-19 responses were also exchanged. The GIZ Gender week was as usual accompanied by a series of virtual events, exchanges and storytelling from around the world.
For GIZ Thailand, this topic is of utmost importance and was also addressed during the GIZ Thailand Annual Planning. Mr. Reinhold Elges, Country Director of GIZ Thailand and Malaysia, stressed to the staff of GIZ Thailand and Malaysia during a Knowledge Exchange on Bystander session that “Zero tolerance [against sexual harassment] means doing something”. To know how is empowering! This is why it is so clear that the policies on gender & diversity and prevention of sexual harassment are no “add-ons”. These policies and particularly practices help us to become better persons ourselves – and to inspire others to be their better selves as well. They are a gift, not merely an obligation. I hope we all find the courage to act when witnessing situations like the ones described.”
Moreover, GIZ Thailand’s Gender Working Group virtually shared its established Bystander Principle with GIZ Nigeria’s Skills Development for Youth Employment – SKYE project, in collaboration with its sister project SEDIN (Pro-Poor Growth and Promotion of Employment in Nigeria Programme) in GIZ Nigeria’s “Raising Gender Awareness” event on 19 February 2021.
The Bystander Principle was presented in the GIZ Gender Network Meeting in October 2020 as a part of prevention of sexual harassment. The Gender Focal Point Network works across different countries to foster exchanges and learning as well as to strengthen what they want to achieve across the world.