In many civil society organisations (CSOs) 70% of the employees are women but 70%
of the leaders are men. We call on all CSOs to match the percentage of women in their
staff in all their diversity with the percentage of women in their leadership.


  1. Match percentage of women staff by percentage of women leaders

  2. Secure a proportionate representation of women in CSO leadership roles — at the latest by 2030. It is both a matter of fairness and a matter of effective use of talent for CSOs to have their overall composition of staff reflected in the composition of their leadership. Therefore, CSOs should have the same percentage of female staff and female leaders: if 70% of their staff are women, 70% of their senior management and 70% of their governance positions should be filled by women from diverse backgrounds.

  3. Minimum of 50% women leaders — As a minimum in all organisations, women should hold at least 50% of CSOs’ top leadership positions (Boards, CEOs and Senior Management Teams, both at global and national level).

  4. Diversity among women leaders — Women are not a homogenous group, therefore women leaders need to reflect the diversity of the society in which the CSO works: replacing middleclass white men leading international CSOs by middleclass white women is not enough.


We will mobilise CSOs’ leadership to initiate the changes. We will invite CSO’s leadership to commit to our objective and conduct the necessary changes in policies, cultures and leadership styles to achieve them in their organisations.

We will mobilise CSOs’ staff to drive and support the changes We will encourage women and men working in CSOs to organise themselves in pursuit of gender justice being an integral part of how CSOs conduct their business, including setting up women’s’ networks across the world.

We will offer a mentoring system for women’s leadership to help overcome the considerable bias of existing talent development, which predominantly prepares men for often typical and traditional leadership roles, we will establish a mentoring system of experienced women leaders for talented and aspiring women.

We will build a professional support community to provide advice on the required changes. We will invite women led companies and companies with a strong gender justice focus and integrity to join a community of consultants, coaches and recruiters to support our drive towards 70% women leaders.

We will regularly monitor progress against our objectives. In an annual review of leadership data we will compare developments in CSOs with the objectives we have set: In which CSOs has the number of women leaders increased over the past 12 months – and in which has it stagnated or even declined?

We will create an open and inclusive platform for broad engagement Starting with two hubs, in Germany and South Africa, we will encourage women around the world to set up their own local, national, regional or thematic hubs to drive the activities they want to focus on in order to increase women leadership in the sector. There will be no headquarter or hierarchy.


Secure gender justice

The workforce in civil society organisations (CSOs) around the world predominantly consists of women while their leadership is mainly made up by men. We estimate that in average 70% of CSO staff are women while 70% of the leaders are men. This stands in direct contradiction to most CSOs policies and public statements on women’s rights and gender justice.

Fulfil SDG 5

It is also incompatible with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”. CSOs have been crucial in shaping the SDGs and many are vocal in their demands on others to meet the goals. However, in order to remain credible and effective CSOs have, first of all, to meet the demands themselves.

Stop sexual misconduct

The recent #MeToo campaign and reports about sexual misconduct in some major CSOs document a culture of machismo, male dominance and impunity around misconduct which is a violation of women’s rights. This culture prevents women from getting into leadership positions. Cultural change requires amongst other things that more women hold decision-making positions.

Fully utilise the sector’s talent pool

With accelerating change and growing disruption throughout the sector quality leadership is in imperative. CSOs cannot afford to only promote their male staff while mostly ignoring women, 70% of their talent pool.


Dramatically increasing the number of women in top leadership positions will:

  • Require in-depth changes in CSOs’ policies, cultures and leadership styles creating much more inclusive work environments for all women

  • Require the systematic development and mobilisation of women leaders and thus benefit women from all backgrounds and at all organisational levels

  • Shift the power towards women leaders allowing them to define alternative leadership styles and organisational cultures with the aim of respecting and upholding women’s rights and needs.


We strive to create an environment where opportunities are available for women across their different backgrounds and intersecting realities of exclusion.

  • Participatory

  • Diverse

  • Inclusive

  • Intergenerational

  • Feminist

  • Solidarity

We will create safe spaces for developing women’s leadership.