03 Aug 2022

"The Power of The Collective" Think Piece and Podcast Series

United Nations University International Institute for Global Health (...+1 more
United Nations University International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH)
30 minutes
Download the think piece
Collective Power for Gender Equality: An Unfinished Agenda for the UN
by Zineb Touimi-Benjelloun and Joanne Sandler

In the previous series, we engaged in conversations about the importance of learning from feminist civil society movements and the need for greater collaboration between the public health field and feminist civil society. This new series kicks off by delving deeper into questioning the nature and role of the UN’s collective power as a way to advance gender equality. Over the last few decades, the UN has made notable strides in improving gender equality. However, a think piece authored by Zineb Touimi-Benjelloun and Joanne Sandler, invites readers to critically consider the nature of collective power and action within the UN and to reflect on why and how a major paradigm shift is required in the way we conceive, talk about, and enact coordination for gender equality in the UN. In this think piece, Zineb and Joanne explore the following: (1) insights and lessons learned about the factors that support and impede the UN’s collective power on gender equality; (2) how feminist thinking about collaboration and collective power could enhance the UN’s approach to coordination; and (3) changing structures and incentives for supporting greater collective power and action on gender equality.

Download the executive summary

Zineb Touimi-Benjelloun is a Senior Consultant and member of the Mediterranean Women Mediators Network and Joanne Sandler is a Senior Associate, Gender at Work.

Podcast Episode 1

Podcast Episode 1: Collective Power for Gender Equality: An Unfinished Agenda for the UN

This mini-series explores the power of the collective in advancing gender equality in health. While there have been notable advancements in gender equality as a result of UN action, questions are raised as to whether these gains are commensurate with the considerable efforts and investments made toward UN coordination and explores what lessons can be drawn from feminist action. In this episode, we are joined by our host, Johanna Riha, along with Zineb Touimi-Benjelloun and Joanne Sandler who co-authored a think piece on this topic.

A text tile that reads: Think Piece and Podcast Series. The Power of the Collective.

About our guest speakers:

Related links:

Listen to episode one here


We are not advocating for more or better bureaucratic coordination for gender equality; we are advocating for re-thinking the collective power of the UN to support local, national, regional and global transformation towards gender equality in the face of rising authoritarianism, illiberal conservatism and patriarchal nationalism.

Watch episode 1 recording
Podcast Episode 2

Podcast Episode 2: The Power of the Collective: Country Level Perspectives from Honduras

In this episode, we continue the conversation on the power of the collective by discussing what collective action entails at the country level. We hear from experts within and outside of the UN to discuss what factors are critical for promoting collective action at the country level, what lessons they have learned in their respective roles to advance collective action for gender equality and what concrete steps the UN can take to sustain collective efforts to advance gender equality. Listen to this episode featuring Xiomara Bu and Alice Shackelford.

About our guest speakers:

  • Johanna Riha, Research Fellow at UNU-IIGH and host of this podcast episode
  • Xiomara Bu, the National Coordinator of Forosida, theNational HIV/AIDS Forum Association in Honduras
  • Alice Shackelford, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System in Honduras

Listen to episode two here


Political commitment at the highest level and through all levels of senior leadership is required for better collective action on gender equality. Likewise, clarity around gender equality as part of the UN’s mission for all staff along with eliminating discrimination.

Watch episode 2 recording
Podcast Episode 3

Podcast Episode 3: UN System Coordination for Gender Equality

In this episode, we continue the conversation on the power of the collective by talking to Florence Hamimi, the Coordinator Advisor and Deputy Director of the Coordination Division in UN Women – the agency mandated to coordinate on gender equality and women’s empowerment across the UN. Florence discusses the challenges UN Women face in implementing their mandate for coordination on gender equality across the UN system, going on to share what can be done to strengthen collective action within the UN.

About our guest speakers:

  • Florence Basty-Hamimi, Coordinator Advisor and Deputy Director of the Coordination Division, UN Women

Listen to episode three here

Your message, your advocacy, can be much more powerful if you come together than if you come one by one

Watch episode 3 recording
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