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The Power of the Collective: Country Level Perspectives from Honduras
Episode 223rd August 2022 • Power Of... • UNU-IIGH
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Podcast Title: Power Of...  

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

Welcome to the Power Of…podcast series, a production by the United Nations University International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH). In this collection of conversations, we dive into critical, thought-provoking, and contemporary content to stimulate debate and dialogue with the aim of driving gender equality in global health.  Host, Johanna Riha, works at the UNU-IIGH in Malaysia and is passionate that the bold commitments towards gender equality in health must be met with changes to the underlying structural and systemic drivers for true transformation to occur.  


In this mini-series, Johanna focuses on the power of the collective and explores how collective action is currently framed in the UN to advance gender equality and how this could be enhanced. In the last episode, Johanna was joined by Zineb Touimi Benjelloun and Joanne Sandler to discuss the think piece they co-authored titled ‘Collective power for gender equality: An unfinished agenda for the UN’. This week Johanna engages with guest speakers Xiomara Bu, the National Coordinator of Forosida, theNational HIV/AIDS Forum Association in Honduras and Alice Shackleford, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System in Honduras, to continue the conversation by discussing what collective power for gender equality means at the country level within and outside of the UN system.  


Johanna begins the conversation by asking her guests to reflect on what critical factors they believe are necessary for promoting better collective action on gender equality at country level. Alice starts by explaining that leadership and political commitment, especially at the higher levels of authority across all UN agencies, are essential in facilitating a cultural change to advance gender equality. Xiomara goes on to highlight the need to recognize that the rights of women and girls are also human rights which are fundamental to drive action. To this point, Xiomara emphasises the need to improve government accountability and leadership. According to Xiomara, building relationships with different actors is also essential as collaboration with political, faith-based, human rights and community organisations, allows the pooling of resources to address the embedded social factors which can improve the lives of women and girls. Within this context, organisations like the UN play a key role in building capacities and can use their position to influence change. However, there is a need to improve dialogue and communication across the UN system. Additionally, Alice explains that we need to counter the current approach whereby organisations and sectors differently frame the issue of gender inequality. This division of an interwoven, multidimensional issue defeats the collective power that can and needs to be mobilised for change. Alice insists that we all must build better collective visions with a more holistic view of what gender equality looks like and means and not separate out and piece-meal solutions.     

The guests then go on to discuss lessons learnt from the UN-EU Spotlight Initiative, which is the world's largest targeted effort to end all forms of violence against women and girls. Xiomara, shared her views as a member of the Spotlight Initiative Civil Society National Reference Group, and Alice, through her role as Resident Coordinator responsible for leading this country-level implementation of the Spotlight Initiative. 


As the episode draws to a close, our guests discuss some practical steps the UN can take at country level to support and advance collective efforts for gender equality. These include: 1) the need for a cultural change within the UN system with leaders being held responsible for changing cultures, norms and attitudes, 2) working against the normalisation of gender inequalities such as femicide in Honduras, 3) being inclusive by working with partners outside of the ‘usual suspects’, including the voices of men, 4) improving accountability structures 5) and recognizing the leadership value of feminist and civil society organizations. They argue that to accomplish this, we need to create more spaces for sustained dialogue with relevant organisations and stakeholders.   


Look out for the next episode and in the meantime please like, share, and subscribe!  

Links: Download the Think Piece and Executive Summary 

Visit our website  

Learn more about Johanna Riha   

Check out the Gender and Health Hub website  

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Follow the Gender and Health Hub on Twitter  

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