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25 February 2022

International Women’s Day, celebrated on 8 March each year, is a chance to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. But it is also a chance for collective action.

International Women’s Day, celebrated on 8 March each year, is a chance to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. But it is also a chance for collective action; it is a day for people and organisations to come together everywhere to drive action and create a fairer world for all. Gender equality, especially in leadership, leads to societies that work better for everyone – evidence shows that it leads to healthier and safer communities, economic success and stronger democracies.

The Global Institute for Women’s Leadership (GIWL) at King’s College London was set up with the aim of creating a world in which being a woman is not a barrier to becoming a leader. Led by Julia Gillard, former Prime Minister of Australia, GIWL is working to ensure women of all backgrounds have fair and equal access to leadership, from CEOs and global leaders, to leaders of grassroots organisations and those with roles in local communities. This work is being made possible thanks to the generosity of our donors.

Organisations have spent countless hours and huge amounts of money on initiatives to improve gender equality, but progress has been slow. According to the World Economic Forum, if we continue to progress at current rates, closing the global economic gender gap will take over 130 years. Being based at King’s, GIWL is uniquely placed to make use of the skills, expertise and robust academic portfolio of the university, as well as its national and international networks. From this base it can use rigorous research to drive changes in practice and advocacy - maximising progress towards gender equality.

Part of the reason we’re still having the gender debate is that everybody thinks they know the answers – that it is simply a matter of common sense. But the lack of progress shows us that these answers aren’t always obvious, and because of that people have been investing in the wrong areas. We need research to help solve this.

Julia Gillard AC, Chair of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership
Aleida Borges, Research Associate, GIWL
Aleida Borges, Research Associate, GIWL

Breaking down silos to build a global community

The work being conducted by Aleida Borges, Research Associate at GIWL, focuses on gender equality in the context of the Global South. It examines the ways in which certain groups – such as young women or those working in the informal labour market – are marginalised and experience discrimination.  

By working collaboratively on a local, national and international level, sharing evidence-based findings with practitioners, policy makers and campaigners, GIWL, including Aleida, is ensuring resources are used where they will have the most impact, driving real, meaningful change.  

A typical day for me involves engaging with both academic colleagues and stakeholders in different industries, international organisations and smaller interest groups. My aim is to facilitate dialogue through research so that we can work collaboratively to bring about societal change.

Aleida Borges, Research Associate, GIWL

To ensure that leadership and equality is genuinely accessible for all, it is also vital for GIWL to look at how gender intersects with other issues, including race, ethnicity, disability and socioeconomic status. Aleida explains the importance of this in her work:

I hope that my research fosters more conversations about the question of gender equality from multiple perspectives and experiences. Diversity and inclusion are at the core of what equality is all about; therefore, adopting an intersectional lens and a more holistic approach will ultimately benefit society as a whole.

Aleida Borges, Research Associate, GIWL

How GIWL wants to make a difference

Aleida’s research is just one example of the vital work being carried out by the team at GIWL. Gender relations are not static and GIWL was set up to be agile, adaptable to evolving needs in an ever-changing world. Their other current areas of focus include:

  • The effect of government COVID-19 policies. Do they disproportionately affect women, and will this lead to a more difficult economic recovery?
  • Which interventions work best to accelerate women’s progression in the workplace?
  • What is the current state of women’s leadership globally, and how is this changing over time?
  • How do representations of women in the media affect women and leadership?
  • What impact to women do political leaders have on women’s political aspirations and policy outcomes globally?

Building a strong network of supporters and advocates has been key to GIWL’s success. Through philanthropic support GIWL has been able to grow and diversify their research. Thanks to supporters who are passionate about gender equality in leadership and accelerating the pace of change. To learn more about opportunities to support and help advance gender equality in leadership, please contact our team.

If you would like to find out more about GIWL, or how you can help drive change and create a fairer world for everyone, visit their website at

Delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals

King's College London has a long and proud history of serving the needs and aspirations of society. We are committed to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a university, and we use them as a framework for reporting on our social impact. The SDGs are a set of 17 goals approved by the 193 member states of the United Nations (UN) which aim to transform the world by 2030. This research supports SDGs 5 and 10.


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