Press Release: UN Women launches a series of Innovation Labs for Gender Equality in Europe and Central Asia

UN Women Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia is integrating innovation as a central and integral approach in its work and launch the Innovation Labs for Gender Equality initiative.

Date: Thursday, September 17, 2020

Last year, an Innovation Bootcamp was held in Istanbul on 6- 9 August 2019 to foster a deeper understanding on key concepts and approaches of innovation as part of the Ideas Campaign. Photo: UN Women/Giulia Gustavsen Angelini
Last year, an Innovation Bootcamp was held in Istanbul on 6- 9 August 2019 to foster a deeper understanding on key concepts and approaches of innovation as part of the Ideas Campaign. Photo: UN Women/Giulia Gustavsen Angelini

Istanbul, 17 September 2020 - Today marks the official launch of the Europe and Central Asia (ECA) Regional Office Innovation Labs for Gender Equality (ILGE). This is a significant step for UN Women Regional Office in terms of building up its Innovation Facility, practices, service line and capabilities.

The ILGE will enable innovation to be further integrated into the institutional knowledge and the organization’s ‘innovation DNA’. UN Women ECA Regional Office will expand innovation across the strategy of the organisation and develop practical approaches for cross-learning and scaling of innovative initiatives. This is particularly important for resiliency, quick response and equitable recovery from crises, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.

“Innovation is crucial in all of our work; we need more spaces and opportunities to allow women and girls and UN Women as an institution to experiment. This is that space. Be brave to learn and fail and iterate. Only then will we be able to do things differently,” said Blerta Cela, UN Women Deputy Regional Director for ECA .

The world cloud created by the team in the first webinar of Innovation Labs for Gender Equality, responding to the question, “which words describe innovation?”
The world cloud created by the team in the first webinar of Innovation Labs for Gender Equality, responding to the question, “which words describe innovation?”

The Regional Office will be working with States of Change, one of the leading innovation networks, which brings together the world’s best public innovation practitioners and experts. States of Change was launched in 2017 by the global innovation foundation Nesta and it grew out of its Innovation Skills team formed in 2013. States of Change is supporting the Regional Office in the next three months to deliver the ILGE, which consists of six modules covering building innovation teams, ways of working, six principles of innovation (People, Systems, Facts, Futures, Problems and Solutions), leadership and conditions for innovation and many others.

In the next three months, 32 UN Women staff across 12 offices in ECA will participate in the Innovation Labs for Gender Equality. By adopting an iterative approach, UN Women aims to deliver more impactful and cost-effective solutions in support of gender equality and women’s empowerment. Learning is grounded in real-life projects and experiments, formulated by the participating teams.

The sessions will be delivered virtually through webinars and coaching sessions. Offline self-learning, reflection and application will be conducted by participants. Participants are encouraged to practice learnings in everyday work and spread the knowledge across their teams and partners.

The ILGE builds upon the Ideas Campaign, initiated in 2019, under the UN Women ECA Innovation Facility. UN Women will be providing more updates as the ILGE is underway, and announce the gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment projects within the Innovation Labs for Gender Equality, 2020.