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International leaders stand up for gender equality in The Hague

Ministers, ambassadors, CEOs and leaders of international organizations, courts, tribunals and civil society are committed to championing gender equality in their everyday work.

As home to the United Nations’ International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and a number of other international courts, tribunals and organisations, The Hague has truly earned its title as the City of Peace and Justice.

What better place to launch a new hub of the International Gender Champions and combat gender inequality within the city’s government, diplomatic missions, businesses and organizations?

To break down gender barriers at all levels, the Embassies of Canada and Switzerland to the Netherlands partnered to open an International Gender Champions chapter in The Hague.

By setting an example at the highest level and committing to concrete actions, this network will address inequalities within the city’s resident organizations. From the limited numbers of women in high-ranking positions, to exclusionary work environments and a lack of gender-based policy and program analysis, they seek to make gender equality a working reality.

Taking the pledge for gender parity

International Gender Champions is a global leadership network with hubs in Geneva, New York, Vienna and Nairobi. In February 2019, the Embassies of Canada and Switzerland officially launched a Den Haag hub in The Hague.

More than 40 ministers, ambassadors, CEOs and leaders of intergovernmental organizations and civil society pledged to break down gender barriers and make gender equality a working reality in their organizations via concrete, individual commitments.

New Gender Champions include the Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation; Heads of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Europol, and the International Criminal Court; the President of the Netherland’s Employers’ Association (VNO-NCW); and a host of ambassadors to the Netherlands, among many others.

Each year, Gender Champions make two annual commitments to promote gender equality within their organizations. This year’s commitments include:

  • More equal hiring decisions
  • Mentoring and training opportunities for women
  • Including language about gender equality in relevant resolutions
  • Hosting workshops on gender equality
  • Establishing policies on sexual abuse
  • Ensuring better work-life balance

Canada’s Ambassador to the Netherlands, Sabine Nölke, took the pledge and committed to promoting gender equality through hiring decisions, mentoring and training, as well as using her position as Permanent Representative to the OPCW and the ICC to ensure gender equality is reflected in relevant resolutions and decisions.

"We need to influence all levers of change to accelerate the full and equal participation of women in leadership for peace, justice and security."

Sigrid Kaag, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Government of Netherlands

Gender Champions commit to change

Gender Champions discuss best practices for fostering gender equality within their organizations.
Gender Champions discuss best practices for fostering gender equality within their organizations.

At the launch of the International Gender Champions hub, 140 Champions and their supporters gathered at the International Criminal Court to discuss how to put gender equality into action.

"The International Criminal Court needs to reflect in all its relevant policies the goal of equal representation of women and men, from all regions, in its workforce."

Chile Eboe-Osuji, President of the International Criminal Court

A gender-balanced panel discussion featured Fatou Bensouda, International Criminal Court Prosecutor; Sheikh Mohammed Belal, Ambassador of Bangladesh to The Netherlands; Caitlin Kraft-Buchman, Executive Director of "Women@TheTable" and co-founder of International Gender Champions; and Hans de Boer, Chairman of the national Employers’ Federation (VNO-NCW).

"Equality for women is progress for all. Until women and men can stand as full equals the world over, our work is not done. We have a collective responsibility to continuously raise gender awareness and advance gender parity."

Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court

Not just words: Making gender equality a reality

Within a month of the launch, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) fulfilled its first commitment by appointing 10 “Gender Focal Points.” The “Gender Focal Points” will promote gender equality awareness, develop gender-related goals for the OPCW, and monitor and report on progress towards these goals.

The Embassy of Canada to the Netherlands is spearheading the Den Haag hub’s first impact group, focussed on gender and international justice. Their first priority will be to support the Women’s Initiative for Gender Justice’s “Call it what it is” campaign to create a working definition of sexual violence for the International Criminal Court.

With these initiatives, and many more, the International Gender Champions hub has already sparked significant change across dozens of organizations based in The Hague.

A Feminist Foreign Policy

Canada stands up for women and girls around the world. As part of our Feminist Foreign Policy, we prioritize the empowerment of women and girls in all our international efforts.

Through tools like the Gender-based analysis Plus, we commit to understanding how policies and programs may affect women, men and non-binary people differently. We design our programs to be as equal and effective as possible.

Alongside partners like those at the International Gender Champions, we will continue to transform structures of power and address the root causes of all forms of inequality.

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