In the face of global challenges such as climate change, growing inequalities, pandemics and backlash against women’s rights, it has become increasingly important for us to reflect on what changes are needed to ensure that the gains made towards gender equality are not lost. Evidence has shown that increasing women in leadership positions is central to advancing equality. However, in this piece, Srilatha Batliwala argues that strategies aimed at gender parity alone are not truly transformative, as we risk reproducing discriminatory power dynamics that perpetuate the very inequalities we are working to overcome. Rather, to be truly transformative, she argues for the need to change the principles and values of leadership and how it is practised, regardless of gender identity.
In this think piece, Srilatha provides:
- a conceptual framework for feminist leadership
- an overview of critical steps to transforming organisations and leadership based on feminist principles, and
- examples of transformative feminist leadership in practice.
Srilatha Batliwala is Senior Adviser, Knowledge Building, CREA, Senior Associate, Gender at Work, and Hon. Prof. of Practice, SOAS, University of London.
You can also watch our webinar replay of Transformative Feminist Leadership In Global Health: From Rhetoric to Action.
- There is a need to fundamentally transform the concept of leadership, and its purpose, form, and practice to focus on dismantling the harmful power structures and norms–formal and informal–embedded within in virtually every institution and within ourselves.
- Dismantling oppressive structures, constructing new visions using collective power for change and preserving our environment in sustainable ways is possible through feminist transformative leadership.
- Transformative feminist leadership is a process of transforming ourselves, our organisations, and the larger world to mirror and advance a feminist vision of social transformation and justice.
“Feminist transformation is not only concerned with changing society or the world at large, but begins with the self and the spaces in which we work and live. It involves recognising that we, and the spaces, organisations and structures we occupy, are important sites of change.”