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  • Organization: UNDP - United Nations Development Programme
  • Location: Colombo
  • Grade: SB-4 (SC8/SC9), Service Contract, Local Contractors Agreement - Consultancy
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Operations and Administrations
    • Women's Empowerment and Gender Mainstreaming
  • Closing Date: 2018-05-27

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Gender Specialist

Colombo (Sri Lanka)


UNDP is the UN’s global development network, advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. We are on the ground in 166 countries, working with them on their own solutions to global and national development challenges.
The lack of importance placed on the concepts of foresight and innovation, and its vital role in sustainable human development was a vacuum that was identified by the UNDP CO in Sri Lanka. With this in mind UNDP joined with several partners from the Government, development and private sectors to organize the First National Summit on Foresight and Innovation for Sustainable Human Development in 2016, which initiated a much needed conversation about the topics of innovation and foresight and its relevance in planning for a better future. 
Being one of the main outcomes of the Summit, UNDP and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Research have initiated the establishment of Sri Lanka’s first Social Innovation Lab. The lab will act as a safe-space which allows for innovative policy prototypes to be developed by harnessing citizens’ insights and tested in a controlled environment, allowing the incorporation of feedback in order to further develop the policy being tested. Within UNDP and the Ministry, however, it is additionally a change initiative which is developing the following capacities and approaches among the public sector:
  • Foresight – evidence mapping, market intelligence/horizon scanning, systems mapping.
  • User insights – using citizen engagement to allow for comprehensive understanding of issues, as well as prototyped solutions 
  • Crowd intelligence – receiving challenges through social innovation camps, using crowd sourcing methods to find solutions
  • Co-design – user-innovation; human-centered design, service design.
Via the aforementioned approaches, the Lab enables UNDP to partner with “unusual suspects” and assist the government, along with the Ministry, to better the public sector by reaching across sectors in order to provide policy recommendations and innovative solutions to meet the increasingly complex demands of Sri Lankan society.

Duties and Responsibilities

Under the overall guidance of the Lab Lead, the Gender Specialist will perform the following
  • Advice and support the Lab team on ensuring all finalized interventions and solutions have considered gender elements and sensitivities surrounding the specific issue;
  • Advice on best practices on gender inclusivity in the Lab’s work and facilitate knowledge building within the team on gender issues;
  • Take initiative on working with the team on developing potential interventions aimed towards finding solutions to issues deeply rooted within a gender angle;
  • Provide thematic support on overall innovation strategy/action plan of the Lab, including formulation, designing, planning and implementation of all tasks and activities of the Lab in any given cycle;
  • Provide expertise on gender issues and concepts throughout a Lab cycle – from the initial stages of unpacking of the issue, to forming solutions, to testing, re-testing, and incorporating feedback to the prototype;
  • Proactively scout for new innovative ideas and opportunities that will further the work of the Lab;
  • Develop partnerships and network with local youth organizations, NGOs, cultural and religious organizations, the private sector, local media and academia working on gender issues to build and provide a space to nurture and test new and innovative ideas, develop the next generation of thought leaders and build local capacity;
  • Work closely and effectively with government departments, private sector partners, academia, youth groups and other related stakeholders;
  • Train the team, UNDP and Ministry staff, government counterparts and other end users in the country in the practices and concepts of gender studies if opportunity arises;
  • Assist in any and all other tasks as required for the operation of the Lab.
Impact of Results
The Lab will be aligned to support national development priorities and economic policy through rapid prototyping of development ideas to complement accelerated initiatives. Not to be mistaken with a policy or idea implementing agency, the Lab will be able to comprehensively test an initial idea within a given timeline. The Lab can tackle efforts in the form of an idea, a problem or a solution. 
It will be a rapid prototyping facility for ideas and development efforts, using foresight tools to take into account multiple alternative future scenarios to make the idea or solution future proof. 
Citizen engagement will be a central focus for the lab and will engage the public in order to identify citizen priorities for policy prototyping. Additionally, during the prototyping phase, maximum citizen engagement will be facilitated. Citizen ideas will be sought on specific issues via offline and online channels. Citizens will be also engaged in the process of the lab where prototypes will be tested in different locations, taking into considering the user journey mapping.


  • Experience working with civil society organizations, government ministries, and youth groups, as well as working in a dynamic and multidisciplinary team;
  • Experience in conducting research and analysis on gender aspects, especially relating to development issues;
  • Proven capacity to work with and lead collaborative teams across different locations and with different technical skills;
  • Proven ability to manage relationships with partners, including government ministries, youth coalitions, universities, intellectual leaders, UN organizations, NGOs and the private sector;
  • Strong communication and collaboration skills with experience in consensus building and in motivating cross-functional teams to meet ambitious project goals and timelines;
  • Strong research, organizational, and networking skills;
  • Highly passionate about gender issues, and interested in using social innovation to find solutions to these issues;
  • High level of motivation, ability to show initiative and work independently without continuous supervision;
  • Ability to work with a diverse set of partners to create problem specifications, system requirements, and implement innovations on a national scale;
  • Demonstrated ability to work in a multi-cultural environment and establish harmonious and effective working relationships, both within and outside the organization;
  • Experience in project management and rolling out of large scale projects especially in rural areas of Sri Lanka is highly desirable;
  • Previous direct experience supporting innovation processes and tasks desirable;
  • Familiarity with information systems and communication technologies is an asset;
  • Ability to travel, occasionally to remote locations.

Required Skills and Experience

Education & Experience:
  • Master’s degree in Gender Studies, or any other field related to gender studies and/or social sciences with five (05) years of progressively responsible professional work experience at the national and international levels;
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Gender Studies, or any other field related to gender studies and/or social sciences with seven (07) years of progressively responsible professional work experience at the national and international levels;
  • Experience in the usage of computers and office software packages (MS Word, Excel etc.)
Language Requirement:
  • Strong oral and written communication skills in English, along with Sinhala and/or Tamil. Proficiency in Tamil (oral and/or written) is highly desirable


Important applicant information

All posts in the SC categories are subject to local recruitment.

Applicant information about UNDP rosters

Note: UNDP reserves the right to select one or more candidates from this vacancy announcement.  We may also retain applications and consider candidates applying to this post for other similar positions with UNDP at the same grade level and with similar job description, experience and educational requirements.

Workforce diversity

UNDP is committed to achieving diversity within its workforce, and encourages all qualified applicants, irrespective of gender, nationality, disabilities, sexual orientation, culture, religious and ethnic backgrounds to apply. All applications will be treated in the strictest confidence.

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