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Nasra Ismail on the barriers to increased female leadership

Many in the global development and humanitarian aid sectors are calling for increased female leadership to create an environment — humanitarian and development sector — that works for everybody, but “there’s a lot of work to do to ensure leaders of all shapes, colors, and backgrounds are able to thrive,” said Nasra Ismail, deputy director of the Somalia NGO Consortium, a voluntary coordination mechanism of NGOs.

Many in the global development and humanitarian aid sectors are calling for increased female leadership to create an environment — humanitarian and development sector — that works for everybody, but “there’s a lot of work to do to ensure leaders of all shapes, colors, and backgrounds are able to thrive,” said Nasra Ismail, deputy director of the Somalia NGO Consortium, a voluntary coordination mechanism of NGOs.

“Particularly in a fragile context, we see a lot of barriers in terms of women’s leadership: legally, regulatorywise but also in terms of cultural barriers,” she said, adding that women from the global south in particular face such barriers.

To tackle these, she suggested forming a coalition of women from high-income and emerging country contexts.

“We do believe that the best way to address some of these issues — as grand, as difficult, and as complex as they are — is working through a coalition of differences and working together to ensure that those countries that we’re in, and may not have had the chance to improve, can do so more quickly.” 

Through a six-part audio series, DevProWomen2030, Devex is speaking to women professionals, leaders such as Ismail, and recruiters in the sector to find out how changes across the development landscape are impacting women and what advice they have for those entering this space or looking to climb the ladder.

In the second installment, Devex spoke to Ismail, a former Somalia country director at Oxfam International, about the skills women will need to have to reach those leadership positions in a world that’s grappling with increasing instability.

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