From 29 October-1 November 2018, the International Development Innovation Alliance convened their bi-annual meeting at the Rockefeller Foundation. Topics of focus for collaboration and partnership for the International Development Alliance (IDIA) include scaling, innovation ecosystems, capacity building, impact and influence, and gender equality. In the course of their three-day meeting, with a shared mission of “actively promoting and advancing innovation as a means to help achieve sustainable development,” IDIA members turned their attention to Sustainable Development Goal 5: Gender Equality. The meeting also coincided with the recent launch of the IDIA publication Toward Bridging Gender Equality and Innovation.
UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore kicked off the Gender Equality session of the meeting. During her remarks, she asked all IDIA members to join UNICEF in taking next steps to build on all agencies’ work on gender equality in a specific and targeted way. She challenged the group to work together to enable faster and fuller realization of scale of those successful innovations each organization finds and supports. With women and girls firmly in focus she urged collective action,
“I know that our discussions today will spark ideas, new solutions, and collective action — not only for women and girls, but with them in design, and by them in delivery.”
Ms. Fore also compelled the group to think beyond innovative technologies, “being innovative must go beyond technology itself and consider the entire innovation ecosystem that will unlock gender equality outcomes at scale. This includes start-ups, enterprises, angel investors, incubators and accelerators.”
Building on decades of best practices and progress in closing gender gaps by the gender equality community of women’s rights groups and others, innovative solutions – such as apps, analyses using “big data”, chatbots, and more – and their supporting ecosystem, can help further promising gender outcomes at scale. They also hold promise for addressing long-standing gender gaps, including ending gender-based violence.
In 2015, UNICEF was among a founding cohort of development agencies that established IDIA as a platform to enable dialogue, collaboration and the exchange of learning around innovation across some of the world’s leading innovation funding agencies. IDIA brings together senior leaders from member agencies’ innovation teams, labs and departments to share lessons and ideas that contribute to better and faster application of innovations, with the aim of solving problems and meeting specific development challenges. The group now includes twelve member agencies, composed of five bilaterals (DFID, USAID, Global Affairs Canada, Sida and DFAT), three multilateral agencies (UNICEF, UNDP and the World Bank), two private foundations (the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation) and two innovation platforms (Grand Challenges Canada and the Global Innovation Fund). In addition to participation in bi-annual meetings, UNICEF staff have contributed to and informed IDIA’s work through strategic working groups, including the Gender Working Group that produced IDIA’s new insight guide on Gender Equality and Innovation. In May 2018, UNICEF’s East and Southern Africa’s Regional Office also contributed to IDIA’s meeting on innovation ecosystems in Kenya.