As a part of this months' Impactpool gender parity awareness campaign, we aim to share employee spotlights from international professional women working at some of the most important international organizations in the world.
Meet Teresa Mugadza, Country Manager (Kenya) at the International Development Law Organization (IDLO)
Name – Teresa Mugadza
Job Title – Country Manager, Kenya
Nationality - Zimbabwean
Please could you tell us a little about yourself and your professional background?
I am a lawyer and a feminist and have been working in international development for several years now. I began my career in Zimbabwe first in a law firm before transitioning into the non-profit sector, where I worked for 10 years. I moved into international development in 2009, working with an aid agency that supports various programs in Southern Africa. I was appointed to the Zimbabwe Anti-corruption Commission as the Deputy Chair, prompting my departure from international development for four years. After my tenure at the Commission ended, I returned to international development in mostly contractual roles. This served me well as a mother of a growing teen. My work focused on women’s rights, sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and governance in Southern and East Africa.
When and why did you choose to work for IDLO?
In 2016 my daughter went to university, and this meant that I could expand my horizons in international development, including exploring opportunities outside of Zimbabwe and the region. I was therefore quite intrigued to find an IDLO posting for a Field Program Manager to manage an SGBV project in Liberia. I had been following IDLO for a number of years after my first encounter with their Africa program. I, therefore, knew of the organization and their approach of using access to justice as a means to promoting the rule of law resonated with my values. I had never worked in West Africa but I applied for the job and I got it. The job gave me an opportunity to apply my expertise in addressing SGBV; as well as an opportunity to experience working in a different region on the continent.
What do you believe are the most important skills needed for a career in international development?
The two skills that served me best are the ability to “think on my feet” and being able to respond and adapt to developing situations rapidly. A career in international development means that you will always be exposed to varying cultural contexts, ever-changing political or security situations, work across diverse and intersecting issues, and of course, engaging with different nationalities.
What according to you is the most effective way to address gender parity in the workplace?
The first thing is to acknowledge the inequality in the workplace. The reason there is inequality in most workplaces is that institutions do not acknowledge the existence of the problem. An effective way to address inequality is to redesign hiring processes to intentionally make room for equal participation by female and male candidates, including special measures as appropriate. It is important to make sure that team members are made aware of gender equality including stereotypes. The workplace must also have very strict sanctions for gender discrimination or sexual harassment.
Do you have a personal habit or trait that has been critical for your success?
I invest time in understanding my environment. This is important as it helps me contextualize the work we intend to do. I also invest in networks targeting those working in related or similar fields.
What decision accelerated your career the most?
Studying for my LLM (Master of Laws) and taking the step to work in an international organization for the first time in 2009.
What is the best piece of career advice you have ever received?
I have been fortunate to receive a lot of great career advice. Some of the lessons I have been given include:
(i) keeping abreast with trends in my area of interest and
(ii) developing expertise in your area of interest.
We know that many of our audience would like to hear some advice on how to get a job with an international organization like the IDLO, Do you have any good tips to share?
It is important to identify your areas of interest and pursue them. It is also good to keep developing knowledge that makes you versatile. Finally, it is one thing to be interested in an organization and another to actually apply for jobs when they are advertised.
This article is produced as a part of Impactpool's Gender Parity month-long campaign in March 2021, supported by IDLO. Curated to shed light on gender parity in the International Public Sector and empower women with career resources, job opportunities, and employee spotlights, and a unique virtual career fair.