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Who is our gender expert?

At the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) we have 18 thematic clusters including Gender and Inclusive Security. Gender equality, inclusion and diversity are crucial to all organisations and companies. Dive in deeper with our one of the experts, Ms Fleur Heyworth, who will be leading our upcoming executive education course in Geneva on ‘Inspiring Women Leaders’ in October.

Name: Fleur Heyworth

Education: Cambridge University, Nottingham Law School, friendship, travel and parenting.

Job title: Gender and Inclusive Security Cluster Leader

Fun Fact: I am picking up my hockey stick again after 10 years off the pitch and injury free. So if you see me with a black eye or broken nose…

GCSP: Why did you choose to enter this field?

I began my professional career as a Barrister and spent five years advocating in court, representing government and private clients in family law proceedings. During an extended maternity leave, my family moved to Geneva and I resumed my career working for the UK Mission to the United Nations (UN) in human rights and international humanitarian law.  It was during this time that I started to work more on women, peace, security, and gender equality.  The more I have learnt and done, the more I have become interested in the political and policy dimensions of gender and inclusion. I am now more passionate about the need for greater representation of women and minority groups within decision-making at all levels.

GCSP: What is your role at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy?

As head of the Gender and Inclusive Security Cluster, I help to apply a ‘gender and inclusive security lens’ to our core activities of executive education, dialogue and policy analysis. I do this by working closely with the Geneva Leadership Alliance to promote inclusive leadership practices.  We also support women leaders with courses and workshops as part of an ‘Inspiring Women Leaders’ series. The series gives a particular focus on identifying policy and practices to advance women in mediation, where they are particularly under-represented.  We are fortunate to have a rich diversity of Fellows, part of the Global Fellowship Initiative, who contribute to the work here. We also have relations with and support civil society from Syria, Yemen and the DRC who are advancing the women, peace and security agenda.

GCSP: Tell us more about the courses you run?

This October, we will be running the third ‘Inspiring Women Leaders’ course. The aim is to support mid-career level women who often lack role models in their area. We will seek to develop a strategy for their career growth and teach the skills to achieve it.  Participants have access to senior facilitators, mentors and coaches.  They also built up a network across Government Missions, International Organisations, businesses and NGOs in the heart of Geneva. 

Last April we offered the first ‘Leading Inclusive Teams’ course for both women and men. It aimed to help challenge assumptions, learn ways to build connections and overcome bias.  In May 2019, we will be offering a 1-day intensive course for current and aspiring team leaders seeking to ‘Leverage Diversity for Increased Performance’.

GCSP: How do you see gender and inclusive security shaping the future?

The UN’s 2017 leadership framework calls for more collaborative and inclusive leadership. The UN Secretary-General has released a system-wide ‘Gender Parity Strategy’, and many organisations including governments are looking to diversify their leadership, so the topic is hot.  There is growing evidence that teams with more women and racial diversity deliver better results in the humanitarian sector, armed forces and peace-building. However, the main challenge is turning policies into practices, and that is where we can help.  Bringing together cross-sector, multi-cultural groups is part of GCSP’s daily purpose, so we have a great opportunity to apply and test new ideas, get feedback, and share results. 

GCSP: What have you learnt from the participants in your courses? What is your biggest takeaway?

Having time and space to learn is a privilege and a necessity.  Participants are always surprised by how much they gain personally and professionally from an immersive experience with peers and experts.

GCSP: What is the best piece of advice you were ever given?

Be flexible and adaptable to life’s twists and turns, but stay true to your core values in the choices you make.

GCSP:  What’s coming up next for your cluster, Gender and Inclusive Security?

Watch out for more women’s workshops, courses abroad and a forthcoming paper on advancing women in mediation, which contains insights on emotional intelligence and diversity. 

GCSP: Why are you passionate about this subject? Why does it make a difference for you personally or professionally?

I believe that we have the potential to create a better future for future generations.  At the GCSP I feel very fortunate to be working at the intersection of leadership and security policy where the opportunities to overcome conflict and manage risks are evident. As highlighted at the most recent EAPTC conference, what we need is innovation in behaviour as well as technology.  I think we can start with a mindset focused on the positive goals we can achieve rather than focusing on our fears, and challenging our assumptions to think about new possibilities.  Personally and professionally, I also believe we need to care more for ourselves and others, and be more inclusive of diverse perspectives.

Get ready for Fleur Heyworth's course about gender in Octobre!

Learn more