News & Insights

Action on gender: a personal commitment

I am a woman leader. Action on gender is something I breathe at a personal level, as well as striving to be a champion within the workplace. I specialise in leading transformational international development programmes, that devote tens of millions of pounds of philanthropic money towards helping the poorest in society prosper.

Currently I am team leader for CIG Uganda, a UK Aid programme that catalyses infrastructure fundamental for the country’s growth. It is a programme that if delivered well, I believe will improve the lives of millions of people. Gender is essential to achieving this goal. In practice, it means ensuring the mass transit systems we support identify specific needs of women, girls and breast feeding mothers, their safety and security. It requires that plans and policies that we assist with consult with women and girls and those marginalised. It also means that when we are helping Uganda’s government to identify how to leave no one worse off when they need to relocate people from the path of new roads being constructed, that women and the most vulnerable are considered, consulted, and at the heart of plans.

Image of Helena McLeod and CIG Uganda Leaders

Helena McLeod, with Executive Director of KCCA, Andrew Kitaka, Paul Turner, DFID Infrastructure lead and the deputy Mayor of Kampala

On a personal level, I salute my employer, Cardno International Development and DFID, UKAid, for being pioneers of gender equality in the workplace. I am the mother of two beautiful boys, one of whom is severely disabled from brain damage.

Both Cardno and UKAid recognise the importance of supporting flexible working practices to accommodate particular needs of women leaders and those caring for disabled dependents.

Spanning several weeks I have been able to work from beside my son’s hospital bed as he recovered from pneumonia and infection. I am also allowed to remote work part of the time to accommodate special needs. Quality of work doesn’t suffer but this sort of support from an employer allows women’s full participation as leaders in society.

Accelerating Action on Gender Equality works at many level. We are all responsible in whatever small way for realising it.
Author: Helena McLeod is the Team Leader for the Cardno implemented and UKAid funded programme, Cities and Infrastructure for Growth Uganda