Gender equality is essential to global development. Its importance has been acknowledged in global conventions and treaties, and in commitments made as recently as the Gender Equality Forum last year. While significant advancements have been made, gender equality is far from being realized. As the world hones in on the Sustainable Development Goals to advance health, education, safety, poverty, climate, and more, it is crucial to recognize that these areas are not gender neutral. Their solutions require design and implementation that allow all people to thrive, and at the minimum, ensure that no one is left behind. Women, girls, gender diverse persons, and all individuals who continue to be marginalized on the basis of their gender and other intersecting identities cannot afford to wait.
There is untapped opportunity for innovation and global collaboration to advance gender equality. Human-centered design experts from IDEO.org and gender specialists from Iris Group, with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, launched the Chroma Collective to accelerate gender focused development impact. The Chroma Collective is a network of about 20 members from governments and multilateral institutions, who have a history of actively addressing gender within their institutions and global development programs. Chroma Collective members share the belief that coming together across development institutions and sectors will illuminate common challenges and bring into focus opportunities to advance gender equality. This is true beyond collaborating for external programming, but also collectively identifying structural possibilities within their institutions to break through internal barriers that keep gender mainstreaming from reaching its full potential. These efforts come at a crucial time when progress toward gender equality in development seems to have stalled and - in some contexts - even reversed.
Through a series of meetings and one-on-one interviews facilitated by IDEO.org and Iris Group, members of the Chroma Collective identified six interconnected hard problems that need to be solved in order to accelerate gender equality:
Chroma Collective members are now undertaking design sprints to prototype creative solutions to these six hard problems, which will then be tested, iterated within their respective organizations and then shared. Stay tuned for the next blog, which will outline some of the solutions.
Before we issue the solution focused blog, we invite you readers to write to the Chroma Collective highlighting what you think the sticky issues are when it comes to prioritizing gender equality in development programs.
With your feedback, and our continued collaboration across the sector, we continue towards our goal of innovating to advance gender equality, leveraging design innovation to better serve those whom our systems are currently failing.