IWD 2024: Envisioning gender-equal futures

Celebrating International Women’s Day, our focus is on this year’s theme: Invest in women – accelerate progress. It brings to light the persistent gender gap—a divide that, if bridged, promises widespread benefits for our economy, society and the planet at large. Yet, the quest for gender equality remains a challenge, demanding our dedicated commitment and action.

In our IWD 2024 features we explore the intersection of futures and foresight with gender equality. How it is not only a tool or an academic exercise but a way to actively shape pathways towards a more equitable world. Through living examples we see how the deliberate application of futures and foresight strengthens women and girls, catalyses societal transformation and nurtures spaces of equity.

Our first feature showcases initiatives by Thays Prado and Abigael Anaza-Mark from our NGFP 2023 cohort.

Futures and foresight have incredible resources to help us advance gender equality in society.” – Thays Prado

Leading Feminist Futures, her mission combines gender equality with futures thinking transforming concepts into concrete action plans for women and girls. By combining storytelling with foresight methodologies, she offers a compelling model for co-creating preferred futures.

Her collaboration with Plan International captures this approach. These participatory futures workshops are efforts to strengthen the agency of the Global Majority’s youth. By critically assessing today’s global shifts, they collectively envision gender-equitable futures. These aim to inform policy recommendations for the UN Summit of the Future.

Diversity and inclusion are central to her approach in enhancing gender equality within futures and foresight. This March, the Women Who Future(s) conference, co-hosted with Abril Chimal, not only celebrates women’s achievements in the field but also opens a dialogue on how identity shapes our visions and innovations.

Her collaboration with NGFP Network member Abigael Anaza-Mark brings to life the power of foresight in promoting gender equality. Together, their workshop during an event organised by Abigael, illustrates a shared commitment to creating equitable futures. 

Participants imagine futures at a workshop led by Thays Prado for She Solves, organised by Abigael Anaza-Mark.

Leveraging futures thinking and foresight is key to closing the gender gap in STEM.” – Abigael Anaza-Mark

Heading the STEMFutures project at SheSOLVES Africa, this initiative was established to close the gender gap in STEM and equip young girls with foresight skills for success in the future workplace. Through a blend of intergenerational dialogues and hands-on applications of academic concepts, her work is breaking down social barriers and promoting gender equality in STEM fields.

Her method involves backcasting to understand the current state of gender equality in STEM, followed by speculative co-creation of future scenarios. This process brings participants closer to female role models in STEM and instils a powerful sense of capability and aspiration among them.

In her dual role as a practitioner and advocate for gender equality within futures and foresight, Abigael emphasises the necessity of gender-based assessments within the field. She uses SOIF’s approach as an example, where equal opportunities are provided to both women and men qualifying for the NGFP Fellowship – from access to finance, opportunities and mentorship. She also envisions the establishment of a global Gender Futures Hub, tasked with creating a Speculative Gender Futures Manifesto to steer organisations toward gender-inclusive practices.

Abigael’s guidance to women interested in futures and foresight emphasises the importance of community, storytelling and self-care. She believes in the potential of foresight in challenging existing norms and envisioning a world where gender equality in STEM is not just an aspiration but a reality.