Pursuing a Career in Development? This Advice is for You

Whether you’re building your international development career already or you hope to enter the sector in the future, a little guidance from those who have done it all before can be really valuable. But for many of us, accessing the collective knowledge of successful women in the field can seem like a pretty daunting prospect.

To help, we asked two incredible development leaders, Dr Roopa Dhatt – Executive Director and co-founder of Women in Global Health, and Camilla Knox-Peebles – Chief Executive of Amref Health Africa UK, to share their advice to young women pursuing a career in development. Here’s what they told us.


Roopa’s top tips:

  1. Have a strong support system.
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  3. Pick what matters most to you.

“To be able to do anything well, you need to be taking care of yourself.”


And Camilla’s advice to those early in their careers:

  1. Listen, be open to learning and seize opportunities.
  2. Practice self-awareness and self-reflection.
  3. Follow your intuition.

“I have so often found myself hesitating to ask a question, only to find out that so many other people had exactly the same question.”

Girls’ Globe attended the Women in Dev Conference in March 2020. You can watch highlights from the event or join the conversation online. And, if you’re a young woman in the international development sector (or hoping to be one day!), you can amplify your voice with Girls’ Globe.

A Day Without Them: Women Strike in Mexico

If you read my last post, or Diana’s piece for this year’s International Women’s Day, you’ll know that Mexican women are fed up. The latest murder, this one of a 7-year old girl, has reignited anger among the people. Fatima’s is not the only case that has sparked outrage. In the past few years, Ingrid and Mara are also names we saw all over the news. But why do we only know these 3 names? What about the more than 4,000 other women that have been brutally murdered since 2015?

As of February 17, 265 women have already been killed in Mexico in 2020. That’s 265 in only 48 days.

What is the government doing about this? Absolutely nothing so far. At least nothing effective. Mexico’s President has announced that there will be harder penalties for people who commit femicides; but how is this even a viable solution when 2 out of 10 murders currently go unpunished?

Women are being hated to death and no one is being held responsible.

This is why a ‘National Strike’ is taking place today, March 9 2020. It is a day without women. No women are leaving their homes. We are stopping all labor and domestic duties. We are not spending a cent whatsoever: no food ordering, no streaming, no shopping, no walking out on the streets, no school, no daycare, no nothing.

#UnDiaSinEllas (A Day Without Them) is a strike to protest against the violence we live with every day. It is a simulation of all the women who have gone missing and been murdered in the past years. It is also a protest to demand larger support for women’s rights. There will be an unignorable economic impact, since it is estimated this strike will cost the country around 2.3 billion dollars.

This is one of the biggest social movements Mexico has seen in modern times.

It is so massive that it has put many previous social, religious, racial or economical divides behind us. We are as united as we have ever been. Both the public and private sectors have spoken in favor of the strike. Many companies are also speaking up in support of their female colleagues and employees.

The strike follows this year’s International Women’s Day March which took place yesterday and gained major participation. There were similar marches in August and November 2019, where thousands of women mobilized in Mexico city.

We are marching and striking for every single woman in this country. We are demanding our rights, our physical integrity, and an end to violence.

International Women’s Day in Latin America

On this International Women’s Day in Latin America women march, and then they strike.

Micaela. Pamela. Brenda. Guadalupe. Jordana. Octavia. Agustina. Ingrid. Fátima. Angie. Manuela. Doris. Adriana. Luisa. Ana. Luz. Jesenia. Mónica.

These are just a few of the women and girls who were killed in Latin America in 2020 – a region where there is a new femicide every two hours. There were 1206 registered femicides in Brazil in 2018. In Mexico, there were 1006 registered cases last year. In Argentina there were 68 registered femicides so far this year. It’s time for it to stop.

According to Reuters, “Femicide claims the lives of 12 women a day in Latin America which is home to 14 of the 25 countries with the highest rates of femicide globally but 98% of these killings go unprosecuted.”

Women in Latin America are tired of seeing a new femicide in the news every day.

They’re tired of being afraid and angry all the time. They’re tired of worrying about their safety, of having to check in on their friends, of being alert at all times because they’re not safe in their homes. 

All eyes will be on Latin America this International Women’s Day. Women all over the region are marching this Sunday to demand justice. And on Monday they’re planning to strike — they will stay home from school, work and university and they will avoid making purchases. The goal is to show people what the world would be like without them.

Illustration with the words 'Silencio Nunca Mas'.
Illustration by Laiza Onofre for the International Women’s March in Mexico. See more at undiasinmujeres.mx

Here are some things you can expect to see: 

If you aren’t in the region and want to join them from abroad, like I’ll be doing, you can show your support on social media. There will be plenty of photos, videos and illustrations circulating mainly on Twitter and Instagram. You can also find threads like the “hallada” test, where women searched on Google their names with the word “found” (hallada) and realized they share their names with women who were killed. 

As the feminist movement in Latin America continues to become more powerful and influential, the pressure on governments to implement policy changes grows. I’m excited to see these women speak up for themselves and each other. They broke the silence and now they’re unstoppable.

This International Women’s Day let’s support women in Latin America.

A Word to Men Ahead of International Women’s Day

Feminists around the world have put endless effort into explaining that International Women’s Day is for all people to fight together for gender equality. And while the statement is true, I don’t believe everyone’s job is the same. Every year, ahead of 8th March, there’s heated debate on men’s role in the gender equality movement. Are they doing enough? Are they doing too much?

These are my reflections for all men willing to listen.

Believe in Feminism

Take part in International Women’s Day because you believe in gender equality. It’s not our duty to make you feel included. It certainly is not our responsibility to convince you to fight for women’s rights. I often struggle to find the correct arguments to get men onboard, or the best feminist angle so as not to offend anyone. But I shouldn’t soften my words for the sake of masculinity.

Know your beliefs and own them. Advocate for women’s rights because you want to. Don’t wait for an invitation. Be a feminist because you see the burden of unbalanced gender dynamics and you want to tackle it.

It’s not just about the Women you Love

Whenever a case of sexual assault or domestic violence occurs, it’s common to hear that “it could have happened to your girlfriend/sister/daughter”. It seems like the offence is aggravated by the victim’s relationship to a man. Sure, we’re someone’s relative or friend but our worth doesn’t rely on this kinship. Before someone’s daughter or sister, we are our own selves. Women are deserving of respect, public presence and integrity because we exist.

Don’t march on International Women’s Day for your mother, daughter, girlfriend, wife, sister or female friends. Forget about the women you love for a second. Get involved for the billions of women you don’t know. This is not about someone close to you suffering, it’s about justice for half the world’s population.

Know your Role and Step Back Sometimes

Being an ally to any cause means acknowledging your privilege, offering support and settling for a secondary role to leave space for others to speak up.

Being an ally to women means understanding men’s role in the movement. While you’re welcome to stand at the very front of a march, think twice: do you really have to be right there? Or are you taking someone else’s place? Feminism wants and needs men to be involved but we don’t need you to lead. We can lead. We don’t need you to give us a voice, but we do need you to shush people when they aren’t listening. Shout with us, not for us.

An effective way to take part in International Women’s Day is to contact feminist organisations and offer to volunteer or make a donation. You can also babysit the children of your female friends or relatives so they can fully commit to the day. In your workplace, support female colleagues, employers and employees if they decide to go on a strike. Campaign on social media, don’t mansplain feminism to women and encourage your male friends to march. But mainly, don’t be scared of calling yourself a feminist – it’s a good thing.

Women’s Rights for Everyone

Gender inequality doesn’t just affect women, and it doesn’t affect all women equally. Working class women, BAME women, trans women, lesbian and bi women, Muslim women, older women, female sex-workers, disabled women, women in non-paid domestic jobs, women who don’t adhere to traditional beauty standards, homeless women, migrant and refugee women… All of us struggle in different ways.

Listen, learn and acknowledge the different ways patriarchy constrains women’s rights. Not all discrimination looks the same. So make sure you don’t assume, judge or take anyone for granted. Every single woman should feel as worthy as everyone else. 

Question Yourself

International Women’s Day is a great opportunity to reflect on the invisibility of everyday sexism. Turn off autopilot and question everything you assume about gender. Work to deconstruct your normalised behaviour and interrogate your day-to-day vocabulary. Likewise, pay close attention to bias that goes unnoticed, like sexist news headlines and misogynist commercials. Take some time to understand the concept of toxic masculinity and how it affects you. Understand that your position as a man might not allow you to witness the whole spectrum of gender discrimination.

Take this opportunity to interrogate your conduct and examine if there’s anything about your actions that could change to achieve a fairer future for everyone. 

March and Be Proud

You’re campaigning for female empowerment, against gender-based violence, for respect and justice, against stereotypes and gender-bias, for full social, political, legal and economic equality and against the othering of women in society. That’s major.

Don’t question your power and feel proud of what we can achieve together.

Running the World’s Biggest Women-Only Marathon in Japan

This is crazy, I thought. My heavy feet pounded against the road. It was pouring rain and the cold air clung to my damp running attire. Who comes on holiday to Japan and decides to run a 42.2 km race in the cold?

I was in pain. Sore, cold, damp and slightly limping, yet regret had never clawed its way into my mind. It was a privilege to complete the Nagoya Women’s Marathon as my first marathon and be offered the opportunity to see what my body can do.

I didn’t know much about the city of Nagoya before visiting this March, nor was I very well informed about the Nagoya Women’s Marathon. I learnt that it is regarded as the largest women’s marathon in the world. It’s also a beginner-friendly marathon, allowing participants 7 hours to complete the race.

Of the 22,000 women who ran this year, only 3,000 were from outside Japan. I strongly believe that this race deserves to be more widely known on an international level for the importance of what it represents – strong women coming together to push their limits.

The respect, honor, warmth and hospitality at the centre of Japanese culture were captured in this iconic race.

Supporters gathered at every point along the route to cheer us on – despite the rain and cold. Runners took time and effort to hand their rubbish directly to volunteers. Men showed floods of emotion as they cheered from the sidelines in eccentric outfits with encouraging hand-made signs.

I watched literal cries of joy and pride as onlookers recognized runners. I experienced the genuine warmth of strangers as I reached the last 3 kilometres, the smile and euphoria long gone from my face. They cheered me on with shouts of “you can do it!” and “almost there!”. Along the route, I found constant entertainment, support and provision. Crossing the finish line was like nothing I had ever felt before.

It was a breath-taking experience. Literally and figuratively.

It was made all the richer because of three inspiring women: Martha Morales (Mexico), Stacy Conley (USA) and Daniella Morales (Mexico).

Although we’d just met, there was such a sense of camaraderie and support between the four of us that it felt as though I were running with old friends. What a privilege it was to experience the kind of human connection that transcends nationalities, traditions, language and seemingly vast differences. Instead, it celebrates coming together and allows us to be victorious as one.

We all finished the race and celebrated as comrades. It was a heart-warming experience because of the people I was surrounded by.


Don’t get me wrong. There were at least 5 occasions along the way when I contemplated tapping out. As a first-time marathon runner, this experience was one of the toughest things I’ve ever challenged myself to do. Still, the pain is necessary. There’s power in the pain. And you let that power drive you. I saw and shared in that with all the powerful women running alongside me. I will always remember this as one of the best and most memorable experiences of my life.

This race was about something so much bigger than personal achievement. It was about celebrating in alignment with other empowered women.

People run marathons in record times all around the world every day. I didn’t break a record or overcome wildly unassailable obstacles in order to finish, or even take part in, this marathon. But that’s exactly the thing. This race wasn’t limited to celebrating what I could do on an individual level. It was so much more for me.

Being one of 22, 000 women running in the world’s biggest women-only marathon was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Taking to the streets with women of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds and fitness levels was a proud and empowering feeling. The sense of support and emotion contained within the running space as well as that of the supporters lining the track was beautiful a beautiful feeling.

Returning to South Africa, I now advocate for the Nagoya Women’s Marathon. The organisation, hospitality and energy of this race reflects the eloquence of Japanese culture. The marathon celebrates strong, dedicated women coming together to challenge themselves, stereotypes and the historical culture of marathon running.

The Girls’ Globe Reading List

The Girl’s Globe Reading List is an introduction to some of the most important and pressing issues affecting society today. These are the voices, perspectives, ideas and opinions of women and girls from all over the world. Read, learn and feel inspired to take action!

Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR)

1. Campaigning for Care & Compassion in Ireland

“In the final weeks leading up to the referendum, the most important conversations were happening at the school gates or at kitchen tables over cups of tea.”

by Áine Kavanagh for International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF)

2. The Victory of Imelda Cortez in El Salvador

“This is an amazing victory in a country widely considered to have the most extreme abortion ban in the world. But Imelda’s story is a reminder of the misogynistic justice systems we live in.”

by Lorena Monroy

3. Teenage Girls in Argentina Deserve Better

“Adolescent maternity rates are higher in communities living in poverty, where girls are also less likely to go to school or have access to healthcare and contraceptives.”

by Maria Rendo

4. Women in Rural Zimbabwe are Being Left Behind

“The fact that young women and adolescents in rural and remote communities are still struggling to access modern family planning methods – or even comprehensive sex education – is overlooked.”

by Yunah Bvumbwe

5. Breaking the Silence on Vulval Pain

“For years I thought painful was how sex was supposed to feel. Other women must experience this pain and just get on with it, right?”

by Sophie Bryson

Mental Health

1. These Tools are Helping me Handle Depression

“None of this is easy, I know. I am still trying and learning myself, but here are a few tools and tips I would like to share.”

by Chloé Sénéchal

2. My Not-So-Easy Mental Health Recovery Journey

“I don’t regret getting help for my mental health, but I do wish someone had told me how long and difficult the journey of treatment and recovery could be.”

by Gabrielle Rocha Rios

3. Tips for Supporting Someone Experiencing Depression

“Try not to make assumptions about your friends, some people are really positive and enthusiastic, but it doesn’t mean they are at peace within themselves. Some of us have become masters at hiding pain.”

by Chloé Sénéchal

4. Are You at Risk of Burnout Syndrome?

“Burnout syndrome is a form of chronic stress. It is an alarm clock to a more serious problem and needs to be addressed as early as possible.”

by Tariro Mantsebo

5. Postpartum Depression: the Danger of ‘Bad Mother’ Syndrome

“As I conversed with more mothers who had suffered from postpartum mood disorders, each one of their experiences cut deeper than the last. Every woman mentioned having to bottle up her emotions and recalled blaming her own self.”

by Chaarushi Ahuja

Menstruation

1. Nepalese Women are Dying in the Name of Tradition

“After hearing each news report on the death of a woman or girl in a menstrual shed, I ask myself: how many more women must die before social mindsets and attitudes change?”

by Pragya Lamsal

2. Why Sanitary Products Should be Free for Girls

“I believe that it’s imperative to provide free sanitary wear for disadvantaged girls in order to help secure a brighter future for all.”

by Yunah Bvumbwe

3. Menstrual Pain is a Public Health Matter

“I believe many other doctors, both male and female, have harboured similar thoughts. As a result, women to wait longer for medical attention and sometimes receive inadequate pain management.”

by Tariro Mantsebo

4. Menstrual Cups: Breaking the Bloody Taboo

“The menstrual cup has gained a lot of traction over the past year. By some it is seen as an eco-friendly hipster trend, but for women across the world it provides a cost-effective, safe way to manage periods.”

by Terri Harris

5. Taking Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder Seriously

“But PMS can turn into a debilitating and even life-threatening disorder that is unfortunately not nearly as well-known as it should be – premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

by Gabrielle Rocha Rios

The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and are not medical advice. If you are interested in raising your voice with Girls’ Globe, you can apply to join us!