Meet the Staff: Emily Hillenbrand, Core Team Technical Advisor for Gender and Livelihoods

September’s Featured Member: Emily Hillenbrand

Position: Technical Advisor for Gender and Livelihoods as part of the Core Team in Atlanta, GA

10 colorburst1 600x416 Meet the Staff: Emily Hillenbrand, Core Team Technical Advisor for Gender and Livelihoods

Emily is pictured with women from a self-help group as part of a gender training visit to CARE India’s Pathways Program.

Favorite aspect of working at CARE: Being part of a leading global organization that holds gender as a fundamental element of all of its work

Hobbies: Running (the first thing she does when she travels to a new country is ask for the best places to run), swing dancing, and salsa dancing!

Emily joined the Pathways Team in February. She oversees the gender strategies in each of the Pathways countries, and finds inspiration and shares best practices from past and ongoing projects in CARE countries across the globe.

Emily came to CARE with a wide variety of experiences on gender and development issues from the perspectives of research, policy making, and project management in the field. She has worked on gender issues in a number of regions, including South and South-east Asia, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe.

Emily attended Middlebury College, where she earned a BA in in International Studies with focuses on Russian and French. She then went on a Fulbright grant to Cameroon, where she spent a year researching the collaborations between of conventional and traditional medicine practitioners. During this time, she interacted closely with groups of local women, which sparked her passion for working on gender issues in development. After completing her Fulbright, Emily spent some time at the US State Department’s Office for International Women’s Issues, before going on to earn a Master’s degree in Women, Gender, and Development at the Institute for Social Studies in the Netherlands.

Most recently, she spent four years in Bangladesh working with Helen Keller International to implement and monitor gender-transformative food security projects, involving men as caregivers and supporting women smallholder farmers. She also covered the Asia region as Gender Advisor, leading gender analyses and strategies in Nepal, Indonesia, and Cambodia.

Emily’s role as Technical Advisor for Gender and Livelihoods on the Pathways Program gives her the opportunity to work closely with each of the six Pathways country teams in order to enable communities to end women’s exclusion in agriculture and recognize women’s empowerment as a key to improving livelihoods. As one of Pathways’ few French speakers, she is the focal person for the Mali team. Each week comes with new challenges, and Emily uses her background experience and passion for keeping gender in the forefront of discussions and programs for reducing poverty to collaborate with the Pathways team and solve them.

One of the main focuses of the initial year is developing the right tools, training, and follow-up support to enable front-line workers—many of whom have limited education or gender training—to lead effective dialogues on gender and household issues. In addition to sharing gender-dialogue tools with the teams, the technical support includes helping country teams make sure their front-line workers understand the key concepts in the tools, to develop additional job aids that they might need, and to make sure that the front-line workers have mentoring and support as they build up their capacity to lead the discussions. The key for many countries is helping them sequence the tools so that they start with those they are most comfortable with (role-plays and dialogues around workloads) while building up confidence and capacity.

As part of this process, Emily works with country teams to ensure that all members of the Pathways team are clear on the gender concepts and their individual responsibilities for integrating gender actions fully along the seasonal calendar, sharing consistent messages, and modeling gender-equitable practices that Pathways is promoting. A main role of the gender TA is to share tools, resources and lessons-learned, for example through Gender Working Groups. Country teams are encouraged to share their requests and lessons in Skype calls and email.

Emily’s work helps different groups, communities, and countries effectively interact with gender issues and keep them fully integrated in the implementation of the Pathways Program, allowing countries to realize women farmer’s extraordinary potential to contribute to long-term food and nutrition security in sustainable ways.