Faculty Spotlight – Liliana Soler Lutzelschwab

by | Jun 27, 2024 | Development, Experts, Gender | 1 comment

Meet Liliana Soler Lutzelschwab, Programme Director of the Executive Certificate & Diploma in Gender and Development in West Africa and the Executive Certificate in Gender and Development in Latin America. Since 2003, Liliana has also been responsible for gender training and the academic coordinator for Latin America within the Executive Programmes in Development Policy and Practice.

You have been the programme director of the Gender and Development executive programmes for West Africa and the Great Lakes region since 2020. What specific needs or gaps in gender development education do the programmes aim to address?

Gender inequality is considered one of the main obstacles to sustainable development, as it impedes women, girls and LGBTIQ+ populations, in particular, from realising their human, economic and political potential.

Although gender inequality is a global phenomenon, French-speaking African countries and Latin America are particularly exposed to the problem, according to the United Nations Gender Inequality Index (GII). It is widely recognised that structural and pre-existing gender inequalities have an impact on the labour market, social and economic development, climate change, and political leadership.

Enhancing knowledge of this issue and its complexity is one way of tackling gender inequalities. Thinking about systematic gender bias in development planning contributes to a better understanding of how people are differentially affected by policies and strategies for development.

The training aims to deepen understanding of these issues, using human rights and sustainable development agendas as a common guideline. It revisits gender mainstreaming policies to promote equal access to rights for women, girls, and the LGBTIQ+ population.

You also launched an Executive Certificate for Latin America last year. Could you tell us more about it?

The link between gender inequality and development gaps is now a cross-cutting theme in all development interventions. However, there is still a huge need for capacity-building to help professionals working in this field improve diagnoses, identify strategies, and implement gender-sensitive policies.

Gender and development training aims to strengthen individual and institutional skills to prevent and reduce gender inequalities in the programmes and policies implemented by the institutions where the participants work.

The programme is designed for professionals who wish to acquire tools for critical analysis and implementation of the gender approach, as well as teachers and researchers who wish to integrate a gender perspective into their work.

We are convinced that greater proximity to the key institutions capable of driving change, as well as high-quality applications from people in positions of responsibility, will increase the contribution of our training to reducing gender inequalities.

We have a responsibility to meet the needs of professionals in training. We are also keen to contribute to the dynamics of the alumni network and maintain and develop our partnerships with institutions such as the IPD-AOS, desco, and the universities in the regions where we work. 

We know that the political (power relations), social and cultural nature of the changes we aim for requires a critical mass of trained people who can influence lasting positive change, and we are putting all our energy into achieving this.

How do you envision the future of gender and development in these regions? What are the main challenges to overcome?

Since its creation, the training programme has constantly been improved and adapted to new needs. It is an evolving programme that takes account of the context and the needs of participants and adapts its teaching methods, methodology, and content accordingly.

The programme has evolved tremendously since the start of the degree course. In the case of the CAS in Gender and Development for Latin America, we are proposing content adapted to migration, climate change and peace challenges. In addition to the module on concepts of gender, we have designed two thematic modules on the triple nexus between humanitarian action, development and peace-building and climate change and adaptation. Feminist research methods are also covered.

The programme takes into account a hybrid adult learning method combining several teaching methods and techniques, including e-learning (discussion of readings and individual experiences between teachers and learners), face-to-face workshops, personal research work (supervised by one of the programme’s teachers) and virtual workshops (via zoom) with international guests.

We have also established cross-collaborations between the two regions through the organisation of conferences, exchanges between participants during webinars, and the cross-participation of teachers from Africa and Latin America in the respective courses. These exchanges are proving to be very fruitful for the participants.

We also continue to collaborate with Espaces Femmes Internationale -EFI-, a feminist NGO based in Geneva that has supported the programme from the outset and has extensive experience with development projects in Latin America. We aim to ensure that the programme is rooted in real-life development experience, reinforcing academic thinking and skills.

Do you have in mind some notable successes or case studies from the programme that demonstrate its impact on gender and development in these regions? How have participants applied their knowledge to drive change in their communities or organisations?

The most recent external evaluation highlighted the relevance of the programme, both in terms of the teaching itself and the subjects it covers, in responding to the problem of gender inequality. Students also confirm the positive effects on their ability to analyse and propose solutions within the organisations that employ them.

In addition, our system for following up on the training’s effects enables us to ensure that it contributes to changes in behaviour, the introduction of gender-sensitive programmes and policies, and the professional development of our participants.

Applications for the Executive Certificate and Executive Diploma for West Africa and the Great Lakes region are open until 30 August 2024. Visit this page for more information: executive.graduateinstitute.ch/gd

Applications for the Executive Certificate for Latin America and the Caribbean are open until 30 October 2024. Visit this page for more information: executive.graduateinstitute.ch/genero

1 Comment

  1. Daniel Rodriguez

    I totally agree with Liliana. As a former student of the Master of Advanced Studies in Development Studies (2010) at this fantastic university, I had the opportunity to receive valuable information about the reasons for discrimination, structural problems in Latin America, and a broader perspective on flawed development practices in our region. During this process, I learned that factors contributing to inequality include gender and the LGBTIQ+ population. While our region has shown some progress, it is not enough. These programs provide us with the tools to understand our rights and support new political, economic, and educational initiatives to promote or accelerate change. I invite everyone to participate in this excellent program, which offers outstanding professors and a relevant, practical curriculum to help build a better world.


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