Gender-Responsive Leadership

Gender equality is both a goal and a prerequisite for sustainable peace and development. FBA’s Gender-Responsive Leadership (GRL) Initiative is designed to support leaders and managers within organizations such as the EU, UN, ECOWAS, OSCE and the African Union to fulfill their central role in enabling gender equal peace, security and development work.

The women, peace and security agenda emphasises the importance of women’s equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security. It also highlights the need to ensure women’s and girls’ access to right to protection from violence in conflict contexts.

The agenda therefore urges organizations to implement a gender perspective within all areas of work so that diverse women and men can participate in, and benefit from, peace and security initiatives. Organizations are also requested to take specific measures to increase women’s and girls’ access to rights.

Leaders are key actors for gender equality

Leaders and managers in peace, security and development organizations play a pivotal role in ensuring that their organization is contributing to greater equality between women and men, girls and boys, rather than inadvertently perpetuating or exacerbating inequality.

They have the responsibility and the authority to initiate and sustain systematic organizational change towards gender equality both internally in the workplace and through their organization’s external activities.

What is gender-responsive leadership?

Gender-responsive leadership is when people use their leadership position and skills to actively work towards gender equality and women’s rights, both in the workplace and through their organization’s external activities.

That leaders and managers are vital for achieving gender equality is nothing new. For the past 10 years, FBA has been working with senior leaders on gender equality within Sweden and internationally.

Experience shows that support to leaders needs to be centered around their leadership and managerial roles and provide practical guidance on what they can concretely do in their daily work to achieve gender equality.

As part of FBA’s ongoing Gender-Responsive Leadership Initiative, leaders and managers in the EU, UN and OSCE are participating in Gender-Responsive Leadership Learning Programmes.

Gender-responsive leadership skills

The five core skills gender-responsive leaders use to achieve gender equality and women’s rights are:

1. Lead by example

Mitigate gender stereotypes, intervene in cases of sexism, and drive organisational changes for increased gender equality and the achievement women’s and girls’ rights.

2. Set priorities and targets

Identify key implementation gaps of gender equality policies, set strategic priorities and measurable targets for increased gender equality.

3. Communicate clearly and convincingly

Use gender-responsive language and be clear, convincing and consistent when communicating on gender equality and women's and girls’ rights.

4. Manage staff, resources and activities

Establish the right conditions to enable staff to succeed in achieving gender equality priorities and targets; build a strategic working relationship with the gender adviser or focal point; and use gender analysis to ensure that resource and activities contribute to gender equality.

5. Hold self and others to account

Develop a learning and accountability culture for gender equality performance, including using formal and informal accountability mechanisms such as follow-up and feedback.


A gender-responsive leadership handbook, facilitator guide, and participant workbook are currently being finalized.

Gender-Responsive Leadership brochure, Folke Bernadotte Academy (english) (PDF)

Gender-Responsive Leadership brochure, Folke Bernadotte Academy (french) (PDF)

Gender-Responsive Leadership brochure, Folke Bernadotte Academy (spanish) (PDF)

GRL Framework

Download the Gender-Responsive Leadership Framework (PDF)

GRL Framework Visual

Click on the image to download a version in full resolution.

Model of the goals of GRL: a circle in the middle with the goals and five smaller circles around it for each of the five competencies.

News and blog posts

Time for a joint vision on gender-responsive leadership (Kristin Valasek on FBA-bloggen, 10 February, 2021)

"Leaders must take responsibility for gender equality both outside and behind closed doors" (interview with Kristin Valasek, 8th March 2023)

Cover photo: Mustafa Quraishi



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