Topic 5: Feminist Leadership

Topic 5: Feminist Leadership

What is Feminist Leadership?

Top 10 Basic Themes of Feminist Leadership.

Key Principles.

Why Feminist Leadership?

What is Feminist Leadership?

Feminist Leadership is a concept developed and practiced mainly by women’s movements in the Global South.

Feminist Leadership at its most basic is a commitment to creating alternatives to traditional, hierarchical leadership and organizational cultures.

Most importantly, Feminist Leadership doesn’t have a fixed definition or step-by-step guide. It an ongoing process of learning and unlearning, both individually and together with others.

Top Ten Basics of Feminist Leadership

Key Principles

Self-Care and Caring for Others

Taking care of our emotional and physical well-being, in order to renew our inner sources of inspiration and compassion so we can continue to give of our best. Encouraging and supporting others to do the same, actively working towards a more flexible and supportive work environment, particularly for those with caring responsibilities.


Keeping your egos in check so that we can lead with empathy and open minds. To do this, we will work towards accepting our vulnerabilities, as well as recognizing and valuing our strengths and those of others.

Dismantling Bias

Recognizing that society gives us (and others) certain advantages that are not asked for or earned (for example, based on gender, class, race, caste, ability, sexual orientation, education or other factors). Helping to uncover and challenge these forms of discrimination in our day-to-day workplace practices and policies. Being aware of how our own privileges can make others feel disempowered or inferior, as well as how we react to others’ privilege, and deliberately change our behaviour to treat everyone as equals.

Responsible and Transparent Use of Power

Clear, timely and transparent in making decisions, with appropriate consultation and in the interests of our mission. If involved in allocating resources and choosing partners, we will ensure these choices promote values and aspirations. we will communicate decisions, and the reasons for them openly.

Key Principles

Sharing Power

Accepting that the ultimate test of leadership is the spaces we create for others to lead. Working together to establish shared goals and will trust and empower colleagues to share leadership in reaching those goals. Likewise, trusting and supporting those in positions of authority to guide us in the best interests of our mission.


Creating ways for everyone to be equally respected and successful. Challenging ourselves to build diverse and inclusive teams and to recognize and respond to different  barriers to participation.


Constantly aiming for transformative change, seeking out new ideas and learning from mistakes rather than fearing failure, and empowering those we work with to do the same. When we encounter defeatism or cynicism, we will strive to restore belief in our goals; where there is competition or insecurity over status and turf, we will build trust; and where we find complacency or mediocrity, we will help to renew passion and creativity to excel in our mission.

Key Principles

Respectful Feedback

Seeking, giving and valuing constructive feedback as an opportunity for two-way learning. We won’t wait for formal reviews – instead we practice continuous feedback to all those we work with. We will work to resolve conflict through active listening, timely intervention and promoting non-violent and respectful communication and behaviour.

Accountable Collaboration

Ensuring that our goals are clearly defined and mutually owned and hold ourselves strongly accountable for our individual and collective efforts to achieve them.

Measuring our achievements by the contributions we have made to team success. Recognize and value successful collaboration, while addressing poor performance fairly but decisively.

Key Principles

Zero Tolerance

Calling out any form of discrimination and abuse of power that we witness or experience in the workplace, and safely enable and support those around us to do the same. We will ensure our own conduct is free from any form of


Why Feminist Leadership?

Many organizations in our sector work to provide access to services, knowledge, and skills for the most marginalized communities, but don’t focus enough on dismantling the systems and structures that contribute to marginalization and oppression in the first place — including within our own organizations.

It is an ongoing process of learning and unlearning, both individually and together with others.

“Leadership with rather than leadership over.”

“Collective leadership.”

“Resilience to drive social change.”

“It is for all – men, women, young people to drive change.”

Assessment 3:

 Reflecting on your own leadership style

Which elements of feminist leaderships resonate with you?

What will you take forward?

What might you do differently?

How do you think Feminist Leadership and Accountability work together?