Indian women. Photo: Oxfam

Transformative Leadership for Women’s Rights: An Oxfam Guide

Understanding how leadership can create sustainable change that promotes women’s rights and gender equality

Published: 23 May 2014
Author: 
Written by Jeanette Kloosterman, Oxfam Novib in close collaboration with Chloe Safier, Oxfam International

As part of its commitments to promoting gender justice, Oxfam has begun to invest in an approach called Transformative Leadership for Women’s Rights.

As this is an unfamiliar term for many of our staff and partners, this guide explores what ‘transformative leadership for women’s rights’ (TLWR) means, and how it links to women’s rights and gender justice. We explore what distinguishes transformative leadership from other forms of leadership, and how change differs from transformation. Why is transformative leadership important for Oxfam, and what we are trying to achieve by promoting it?

By exploring what transformative leadership for women’s rights means in practice, this guide demonstrates how we can apply it in our programs and throughout our organizations.

Key recommendations

Adopting a TLWR approach within our programs and policies requires us to integrate findings from gender and power analysis into all stages of program or policy strategy design, monitoring and evaluation. In order to do this, we need to develop the following elements:

  • Context-specific gender power analysis in the initial stages of program design. This examines various dimensions of identity, marginalization and gender relations with respect to leadership.
  • A theory of change that provides a clear shared understanding of what we want to change and how. The theory of change must address power, leadership, values, and principles.
  • Strategies and activities that reflect an understanding of the existing gender power dynamics and how these influence the practice of leadership; and which provide compelling proposals for transforming them.
  • Programs or policies that encourage people to reflect on the self (and their own ways of exerting power or reflecting their principles), their leadership styles, and the organizational culture in which they work.
  • A monitoring, evaluation, accountability, and learning strategy that monitors shifts in various forms of power and leadership; measures how lasting change happens; and is based on principles that value and protect the work of our partners.
 

 

 

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