We celebrate UNV - UNV has reached gender parity, 3 things to learn from their success

The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) has made it! This month, the UNV Deputy Executive Coordinator, Toily Kurbanov announced that UNV reached full gender parity among their UN Volunteers! What could be a better news to share during the UN week! That I personally ❤️UNV is no hidden secret, UNV is a great organisation and it is a great pleasure to closely support them in their accelerated gender parity journey.

I am proud to share that this year alone, Impactpool has matched 50’000 women to UNV’s volunteer assignments.

Article takeaways:

  • UNV has reached gender-parity among all their UN Volunteers;

  • How gender-parity at UNV is critical for the whole UN system;

  • Three ingredients in their success that you can implement in your own organisation

The fact that United Nations Volunteers (UNV) now has reached gender parity is an important step for the whole UN system, in fact, it is a more important step than most know.

In our most recent study  Are Women Paying a Higher Price for a UN career we surveyed UN staff and collected data to better understand the UN career paths. And our study proved that UNV plays a central role in the gender-parity goals of the whole UN system.


  • Women that started their career as a UNV were more likely to remain longer in the UN system. We saw a significant correlation between UN Volunteer assignments and retention of women. Women who had


    UN Volunteer


    experience before taking on the first UN staff position tend to stay longer in the UN.

  • As many as 12% of all the successful women we surveyed, had previous UN volunteering experience.

  • We also found significant correlation between hardship experience and women retention. UN Volunteers often serve in challenging locations and our study showed that women who had hardship experience before taking on the first UN staff position also tend to stay longer in the UN.

  • In addition, there is also a significant correlation between knowledge before applying and retention. Among the women we surveyed, women who had someone to ask about the job to better understand its content before submitting the application tend to retain longer in the UN


As part of our conclusions, we made a few recommendations. We recommended that:

  1. the UN should take


    affirmative actions to get women hired on "non-staff" roles (UNV, Service Contracts, Consultancies).

  2. the UN should build networks and abilities for women to ask questions about the job, living conditions, the relocation, the duty station and everything else that eases the decision to submit an application. 



UNV has focused on the right things - 3 things your organisations could learn from UNV

When I assess UNV's success in the gender parity area, I would like to highlight three areas that I believe are instrumental.


Clear objective - Achieve gender parity
  • From day 1, UNV has been transparent in their efforts to reach gender parity and they have clearly communicated their goal. They have worked hard, focused and invested in activities to fulfil the goal. The UNV leadership has stood behind the gender parity objective, which has of course eased the hiring decisions within the organisation.  


Sourcing Tools - UNV has taken action to get more women applicants
  • To reach gender parity, there are two main KPIs to monitor, attraction and attrition. Firstly, you have to attract women and then you have to retain them.  To attract the best women,  it


    is imperative to invest in employer branding and smart outreach. Impactpool has worked with UNV since 2016 with the main objective to provide outreach support for hard-to-fill assignments and to attract more women applicants. Today,


    Impactpool is UNV’s most important talent referral.


Content Tools - UNV has developed content to respond to questions from its desired audience
  • UNV has taken accessibility really seriously. The importance of responding to questions from potential female applicants has also been confirmed by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in an article in 



Women typically want details about what the international assignment will entail, according to Katie Abouzahr, lead researcher for the May 3 BCG survey report, who noted that "women are less willing to 'wing it.' They want to understand what the assignment looks like before they apply."


UNV’s recruiters are making themselves accessible via different channels and support applicants to better understand different volunteer tracks. An example is an upcoming webinar focusing on assignments in Humanitarian and  Emergency response.




UNV has now taken ownership of gender parity among the UN Volunteers. The next two targets must be Consultancies and Service Contracts.  These three contract types together form UN's most important pipeline of qualified talent. If UN Volunteers, UN consultants and Service Contract holders are  gender equal, we start to build the foundation for gender equality within the whole UN system.



Finally, congratulations UNV! We are happy to be part of your gender equality journey. If you read this and are working in an organisation that struggles to achieve gender-parity. We can help you increase your pipeline of women talents, our popular partnership allows you to get all your jobs automatically posted on Impactpool and matched to our pool of talent. Our partnership starts at $99 per month.