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Fleur Heyworth 2

Fleur Heyworth began her professional career as a Barrister and spent 5 years advocating in court, representing government and private clients in family law proceedings. She also worked with NGOs during UPR sessions and drafted recommendations.  She organised a number of events hosted by Ministers and Ambassadors, including one on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict, Disasters and Emergencies, and another 'Gender Equality: what will you do?'.

Most recently, Fleur was Impact Director for Women@theTable and worked closely with the International Gender Champions.  She engaged male and female leaders as role models for change and had a particular focus on Change Management: promoting a culture of inclusion and diversity and addressing perceptions, biases and structural barriers within organisations.  Fleur has a Geography Degree from Cambridge University, and took her post-graduate studies in law at Nottingham Law School.

1.     Tell us about yourself.  I grew up near Manchester in the UK as the eldest sibling of 2 brothers.  I have always been keen on sport and community activities, and met my husband on the hockey pitch.  I began my professional career as a Barrister, specializing in family law, notably child protection and domestic violence.  My husband and I have 2 children aged 5 and 6 and we relocated to Geneva three years ago.  We love the outdoors lifestyle here and the fact that our children have become bilingual – although we are sad to say we cannot keep up with them!

2.    What got you into this field? Once we moved to Geneva, I worked for the UK Mission in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights.  I was naturally drawn to the work on sexual and gender based violence and gender equality as a result of my work as a Barrister.  The more I have learnt and done, the more I have become interested in the political and policy dimensions of gender and inclusion, and passionate about the need for greater representation of women and minority groups within decision making.

3.    What is your role at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP)?  I am responsible for the Gender and Inclusive Security Cluster.  Activities include executive education, public discussions and policy analysis.  I help to apply a ‘gender and inclusion lens’ to our core activities and organize specific activities around Women Peace and Security.  Examples include discussions with the Syrian women who came to Geneva to speak about the enforced disappearance and arbitrary detention of 115,000 civilians, mainly men and boys, as well as meetings to convene key actors from the diplomatic, academic and NGO community around topics such as women’s influence in peace processes.  Our aim is to create a space to think in new ways, and act.  Leadership is at the core of our activities; with the GCSP-CCL Leadership Alliance, we are working to shape mindsets and build skillsets and toolsets so that individuals with knowledge can effectively lead and influence within their organisations and communities.

4.    Tell us more about the courses you run.  This October, we will be running the second ‘Enhancing Leadership for Women’ Course’  In recognition of the gendered leadership gap, the course is designed to support mid-career level women by building concrete leadership skills around influencing, leading teams and negotiating.  Participants have access to senior mentors and coaches, such as yourself, to help them develop strategies to maintain resilience, confidence and progress their careers.  They also built up a network across Missions, International Organisations, business and NGOs in the heart of Geneva.  Last year, participants benefited from personal insights and anecdotes which were described as ‘priceless’ and we hope to be able to bring a similar richness to the course this year.  Next spring, we will be offering the course ‘Leading Inclusive Teams’ for both women and men: this stems from recent research that organizations with more inclusive cultures and supportive female and male managers see greater gender parity at the top.

5.    In your opinion what is true leadership?  For me, true leadership stems from core values of dignity, respect and equality. True leaders are able to engage empathetically, and understand those with different experiences and perspectives.  Great leaders are those who are able to communicate a vision that unites rather than divides, and empower others to leave a legacy that moves beyond short-term financial returns, and creates sustainable, happy and healthy communities.

6.    How do you see female leadership shaping the future? Women tend to demonstrate greater strength as collaborators and use ‘bridging’ as a means of influence, which will be essential leadership qualities needed to address the challenges of our century.  As societies have become more inter-connected and multi-layered, women have a crucial role in connecting communities to power structures, and ensuring that resources are distributed in a way that empowers the neediest and vulnerable.  In the field of Peace and Security, studies have demonstrated that women’s inclusion in the formal processes increases the chance of sustainable peace.  They are also able to bring non-traditional issues such as health and education to the table, as well as minority groups and interests, and overcome some of the entrenched political divides.  Economically and socially, we also have much research now that points to the benefits of greater female inclusion at all levels – not just for productivity, but equality and stability.

7.    What have you learnt from the participants?  A tremendous amount.  The GCSP’s transformative learning experience is based on co-creation, and our aim is to facilitate an exchange of research and experience to find new ways of thinking and acting.  It is through the participants’ diverse experiences and challenges that we all learn - theory is not helpful unless contextualised and applied.  In the heart of international Geneva, the GCSP is fortunate to draw on participant experiences from across the globe, which helps us to break down silos and think in different ways each time we run a course.

8.    What is the biggest takeaway for them?  It is often having the space and time to think and reflect, to engage with people they would not normally have the opportunity to meet, and learn something new about themselves as well as information to advance their expertise.

9.    What is the best piece of advice you were ever given? My father told me to take a degree in something I enjoy.  I read human Geography, and throughout my subsequent legal studies and professional career, it has helped me to appreciate my privilege and given me a lens to view the world.  It encouraged me to critically analyse the status quo and the hidden power relations that shape inequality, as well as the complexity created by globalization, and the importance of identity politics.

10.    What’s the next challenge for female leaders? We are still evolving from patriarchal societies, where only a century ago, most women across the world did not have the right to vote.  Male and female perceptions of leaders are shaped by systemic biases, many of which we are still blind to, and they include a competence likeability dilemma for women, who still undertake a majority of caring responsibilities within families.  Furthermore, we are seeing a re-masculisation of foreign policy, which plays on fear and violence and perpetuates ideals of ‘strong’ male leaders.  If we are to move towards a more positive vision for the future, one that embraces the challenges of the Sustainable Development Goals, including Climate Change, female leaders will need to be able to inspire not only new visions for the future, but also new ideas around leadership qualities.

Reference:  GCSP http://www.gcsp.ch/Topics-Initiatives/Leadership-Crisis-and-Conflict-Management-Programme/Gender-and-Inclusive-Security

Sunita's Bio

sunitablogphoto nov2015

Sunita is an Executive Coach, Trainer and Consultant. She is of Indian origin and was born in London before moving to Geneva in 1992. She has a Psychology background (specialising in Occupational Psychology) and a Post Graduate in the Development and Training of Adults. She also completed a Masters in Ressources Humaines, Coaching et Gestion des Carrières at the University of Geneva.

During her 25 years experience Sunita's drive has always been to help people to do their best and hence led her to create Walk The Talk.

In her free time Sunita is a Mentor for the Branson Center of Entrepreneurship and a proud member of the School in The Cloud Team.

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