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Advance HE programme director joins the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women

06 Mar 2024 | Advance HE Barbara Bassa, ‘a passionate advocate for equality for all’ joins representatives to assess progress, identity challenges, set policies and global standards.

Barbara Bassa, Advance HE programme director and lead for women’s leadership development, is joining the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW68) as a UK delegate.  

The UN Women’s delegation will be joined by 6,000 delegates from various sectors and walks of life, looking to empower women. This year’s theme is: “Accelerating the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls by addressing poverty and strengthening institutions and financing with a gender perspective.” 

Barbara, a passionate advocate for true equality for all and for the empowerment of women, said, “I am excited to join the commission and a group of enthusiasts for women’s empowerment. I am looking forward to bringing new thinking into the delegates’ discussions and then back to the women’s programmes I direct in higher education. 

“This is the largest delegation in the world which gives me a lot of hope about what is possible in women’s leadership.” 

The 68th session of the Commission on the Status of Women will take place from 11 to 22 March 2024. 

Representatives of Member States, UN entities and ECOSOC-accredited non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from all regions of the world have been invited to contribute to the session.  

More about Barbara Bassa 

Barbara Bassa directs Advance HE’s women’s leadership development initiatives, Aurora, in the UK, and the Senior Women’s Leadership Development programme. She also leads on women only programmes internationally – currently developing programmes for the MENA region and a senior women’s programme for Ireland.  

“I was born in Eastern Europe in a country that defined women’s rights and freedoms in a very narrow way, influenced by the church and political system. I started looking into how female and male paradigms operate – and often clash – in the everyday and business environments. This made me curious about how those differences can be celebrated and used in a more affirming way, without othering anyone,” she says. 

Barbara started advocating for equal opportunities for all to achieve what they desire and removing blocks of biases and structural inequalities due to sex, gender, ethnicity and disability. She dedicated her Postgraduate research and thesis to explore this, which was recognised by WSB, the University of Gdansk in Poland as “an outstanding piece of work”.  

She is an enthusiastic advocate for women reaching senior positions in leadership as well as utilising the opportunity of their formal power and influence to challenge and change traditional (developed through centuries of patriarchy) and often obsolete structures. She also supports brining more feminine qualities into leadership for the future.  

“We know we need to change how we work and lead in higher education as the old ways are being challenged by current, tough political and economic realities. Women are key to this transformation, provided they tap into the feminine aspects of leadership; namely the ability to face tough choices, with the spirit of openness, compassion and collaboration,” Barbara says. 

“It is about harvesting relational aspects of leadership; tapping into our common humanity and moving beyond traditional hierarchical structures through mobilising communities of leaders to work together to bring about change. 

“The shift has been mobilised in the sector and some evidence of it is already visible, with top HE women leaders, such as Tracey Lancaster (a keynote speaker on the 19th Cohort of our Senior Women’s Leadership Development Programme), implementing new, more feminine approaches to leadership.” 

Find out more about Advance HE's work in Developing Leadership in Higher Education, including the Senior Women’s Leadership Development Programme and Aurora.

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