Women’s History Month Interview with Gwyneth Cotes
To celebrate Women’s History Month, we interviewed Panagora Program Director, Gwyneth Cotes, to highlight her dedication to gender equality and women’s empowerment in global development. As a woman-owned social enterprise, we are #PanagoraProud of our team’s work to improve the health and livelihoods of women and families around the world. Gwyneth leads home office support for the USAID/Sudan Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL) and Cambodia Malaria Elimination Project 2 (CMEP2) activities.
What makes you Panagora Proud?
I am proud of Panagora’s commitment to rigor and excellence in everything we do. Panagora recognizes that high quality work requires diversity, inclusion, and meaningful communication.
What inspires you to work on gender and women’s empowerment issues?
Women are half of the world, but men are still treated as the default. We are losing out on so much that women have to offer by neglecting their contributions, failing to recognize their work, and continuing to reinforce norms that keep women marginalized.
I’m inspired by the many young women I have worked with in communities, and mentored at work, over the years – their dedication, passion, and brilliance. I want to ensure those women’s voices are heard and they are given the opportunity to reach their full potential.
My work in gender goes back to 2012, when I supported programs to end gender-based violence in schools. Since then, I’ve worked on gender in agriculture, monitoring and evaluation of women’s empowerment, engaging men in caregiving, and making program operations most gender-sensitive.
“I’m inspired by the many young women I have worked with in communities, and mentored at work, over the years – their dedication, passion, and brilliance. I want to ensure those women’s voices are heard and they are given the opportunity to reach their full potential.”
Can you share an example of a successful initiative you have been part of during your work at Panagora? What made it a success?
I recently started a new activity for Panagora, over a short period of time with a brand-new team. This is still a work in progress, but we continue to adapt, improve, and achieve new results. The key to our success is regular communication, creating a space where people feel free to discuss their challenges and concerns, and a sense of caring and empathy between team members.
What advice would you give to others pursuing a career in international development?
Remember that there are no saviors – you are just a small piece of a huge community that is seeking to make the world a better place. Even if what you are doing seems small, do it with integrity, purpose, and a sense of meaning.