International Women’s Day: listen to GGF’s women leaders podcast

By on 07/03/2023 | Updated on 21/09/2023
Graphic by Jack Aldane

To mark International Women’s Day, we bring you a special edition podcast in which two top civil servants discuss their experiences as women in government, their public service’s journey towards gender parity in the highest ranks, and what more needs to be done to break down the barriers women face on their way to the top.

Sarah Paquet, director and chief executive of FINTRAC Canada, has won awards in recognition of her commitment to advancing gender diversity and inclusion, while Zukiswa Mqolomba, deputy chairperson of South Africa’s Public Service Commission, wasted no time challenging the country’s patriarchal society upon being appointed to her latest role last year.

Both vocal advocates for women leaders and their contribution towards creating fairer societies, in this podcast – which pulls together the best bits from our recent women leaders webinar – Zukiswa and Sarah discuss everything from imposter syndrome and confronting microaggressions in the workplace, to parental leave policies and whether hybrid working helps or hinders women professionally, and much more besides.

Sarah recalled that when she became an executive in the Canadian public service at the age of 32, she was often ignored or spoken down to in meetings and would put forward ideas that others would take and pass off as their own. This, combined with one particularly memorable misogynistic comment from a male colleague, prompted her to try and improve things for her female colleagues.

“One day I was arguing with somebody very high up and he said, ‘Well, I hate arguing with you. It’s like arguing with my wife’. I came out of the room, and that was my moment, that was like, ‘Okay, if I accept this, I’m not a good leader – this has to change’.”

Both Zukiswa and Sarah speak up for women and encourage them to speak up for themselves. As Zukiswa put it: “It’s important for us as a global community to make sure that we take the centre stage in fighting for the rights of women, wherever we go, and wherever we occupy – to make sure that we raise other women up as we rise.”

Also covering the findings of Global Government Forum’s Women Leaders Index – which ranks G20, EU and OECD countries on the proportion of women in civil service leadership positions – this podcast brings you a highly engaging, inspiring conversation from two women who are passionate about making change. A must listen for anyone keen to challenge the status quo and ensure that women equal men around the decision-making table – with positive knock-on effects not only for women themselves, but for men, for underrepresented communities, and for society at large too.

Global Government Forum is planning to set up a network for women in civil and public services around the world, so if you have any suggestions on what you’d like to get out of a women’s network, we’d love you hear from you – please email [email protected]

About Mia Hunt

Mia is a journalist and editor with a background in covering commercial property, having been market reports and supplements editor at trade title Property Week and deputy editor of Shopping Centre magazine, now known as Retail Destination. She has also undertaken freelance work for several publications including the preview magazine of international trade show, MAPIC, and TES Global (formerly the Times Educational Supplement) and has produced a white paper on energy efficiency in business for E.ON. Between 2014 and 2016, she was a member of the Revo Customer Experience Committee and an ACE Awards judge. Mia graduated from Kingston University with a first-class degree in journalism and was part of the team that produced The River newspaper, which won Publication of the Year at the Guardian Student Media Awards in 2010.

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