“If you are too authoritative as a female leader, you will be criticized. It seems that female leaders are often criticized for being too tough because it doesn’t fit with the expectations that female leaders are softer.”
– Nana Widemann
Director of the IFRC Reference Centre for Psychosocial Support
International Women’s Day marks the celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women around the world, but it also encourages us to reflect on the many challenges that are still ahead of us in terms of reaching gender equality.
Women have always been the backbone of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, making up half of our volunteer base and staff within National Societies. They have shown countless acts of bravery, compassion and kindness, particularly in response to the relentless COVID-related challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified existing world inequalities, emphasizing the struggles that women around the world still face today.
To mark the day, The PS Centre is releasing a new episode of the Heartbeat of Humanity podcast, a conversation between Communication Assistant Barbara Levin and Director of the PS Centre Nana Wiedemann about the opportunities and challenges that women leaders face.
Nana Widemann has worked for the Red Cross Movement for more than 20 years and she has had several personal and professional challenges throughout her career, the COVID-19 pandemic being just one of them. Like many women working toward higher positions, she has doubted her abilities to pursue a leadership role and feared being perceived by others as not being good enough.
“Be open with one another and share with each other what is challenging and how can you improve. It is about enabling each other to overcome any challenges and insecurities. You really need someone to say: yes, you can do it.”
In this very personal interview, Nana Wiedemann also gives advice to young women who want to pursue a leadership career and tells how she sees the progress of gender equality in the world.
“It seems that women have to sacrifice their family life to get a career. The ratio of female leaders who have children is considerably lower than male leaders. Those numbers really show the inequalities and sacrifices that are not fair.”
The PS Centre’s podcast, Heartbeat of Humanity, is about mental health and psychosocial support. It is mainly for staff and volunteers in the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, especially staff and volunteers working in mental health and psychosocial support services. It covers various topics such as caring for staff and volunteers, the psychosocial effects from COVID-19 and MHPSS advocacy.