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Senior Program Officer, Women’s Economic Empowerment

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Johannesburg, South Africa
Posted on Friday, November 3, 2023

The Foundation

We are the largest nonprofit fighting poverty, disease, and inequity around the world. Founded on a simple premise: people everywhere, regardless of identity or circumstances, should have the chance to live healthy, productive lives. We believe our employees should reflect the rich diversity of the global populations we aim to serve. We provide an exceptional benefits package to employees and their families which include comprehensive medical, dental, and vision coverage with no premiums, generous paid time off, paid family leave, foundation-paid retirement contribution, regional holidays, and opportunities to engage in several employee communities. As a workplace, we’re committed to creating an environment for you to thrive both personally and professionally.

The Team

The mission of the Global Policy & Advocacy (GPA) division is to understand and shape the public policy debates affecting the foundation's work, build support for its major program and policy objectives, and develop partnerships and alliances that can advance the foundation's objectives nationally and globally. The Africa team implements its responsibility through direct country engagement to deploy interventions and delivery models, and by building the partner architecture to replicate successful interventions and models across multiple countries.

Your Role

As a Senior Program Officer (SPO), Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE) on our team, you will lead a portfolio of investments and direct advocacy within our Gender Equality Policy, Advocacy and Communications (GE PAC) team focused on advancing women’s economic empowerment on the African continent with a focus on key countries (currently Kenya and Nigeria), as well as globally. You will also play a significant role as a key member of GE PAC in furthering a new, all-of-foundation effort to center women’s economic power (agency, autonomy, decision-making) in our policy and advocacy approaches and investments.

The postholder will focus on building relationships and partnerships across our advocacy and communications divisions and will work closely with all internal collaborators and key external partners and governments to support our WEE advocacy goals. You will work most closely with the WEE team within the Gender Equality Division as the Program Strategy Team (PST) that leads the technical and programmatic interventions, as well as across the Africa Regional Offices.

The WEE PST has an approved strategy organized around five levers (care, digital, data, markets and capital). You will maintain and develop key grants that will help to implement this approved strategy with policy, advocacy and communications expertise. This includes finding and building/maintaining trusted relationships and making grants to organizations critical to advancing these priorities as well as participating in direct advocacy to multilateral institutions, donors and priority countries.

You will also support briefings, learning sessions, and advocacy activities by the foundation’s leadership. You will work to generate the awareness, resources, partnerships, and policy changes vital to achieve success in the following ways: galvanizing civil society in donor and developing nations to increase political commitment to WEE and to deliver on policy and resource outcomes; understanding and shaping international and regional financing channels for global development issues and supporting the evidence base to drive sound decision-making; and influencing policymaker decision making through increased visibility and understanding of solutions to women’s economic empowerment grounded in gender-sensitive data.

The post holder may be based at the foundation’s office in Johannesburg or in another foundation office location in Africa deemed more appropriate at the time of hire. This position is a hybrid role, reporting to the Deputy Director Gender Equality PAC, and coordinating closely with the Director for Program Advocacy & Communications in Africa.

What You'll Do

  • As a key advisor on strategy, you will contribute to the continued development of the team’s strategic vision, while partnering closely with team leadership to set the overall strategy and goals for the team.

  • Build/manage GE advocacy, communication and policy portfolio of grantees to support WEE goals, with a focus on partners in priority countries on the African continent. This includes managing a large multi-year investment with an African feminist fund partner, a new approach for the foundation - which will entail building a learning agenda on the best practices, continuity and outcomes of this approach.

  • Develop and implement policy, advocacy, and communication strategies to accelerate WEE through investing in partnerships to raise awareness, mobilize resources, advance policy change, and hold policymakers accountable to implementation, with a focus on the African continent.

  • Refine and implement a grantmaking strategy that complements programmatic team efforts to accelerate WEE in priority geographies in Africa, specifically focused on access to capital, improving data, access to markets, digital and child care.

  • Manage the tracking and analysis of key Africa continent, regional and national level policy developments and trends important to the team's policy goals.

  • Develop and/or maintain relationships with key decision-makers on the African continent who are directly involved in areas of interest to the team.

  • Develop appropriate outreach plans for meaningfully engaging and listening to a diverse set of external partners especially those closest to the issues, sharing our strategies, and thinking about how we communicate impact assessment.

  • Represent the foundation to key program-related external constituencies. This includes both formal and informal presentations such as making speeches, attending conferences and other meetings as necessary.

  • This role is responsible for high quality interactions and clear and consistent communications with grantees and partners in the field.

Your Experience

  • Advanced degree in public policy, or equivalent work experience, in international relations, development, communications or a related field.

  • A minimum of 8 years of experience working in government, public affairs, multilateral institutions, civil society organizations, and/or corporate roles aimed at influencing and implementing economic and/or financial policy change on the African continent, to make the economy work better for women.

  • A breadth of knowledge and experience working with a range of key partners working to advance WEE in Africa on the range of key gender policy issues related to WEE.

  • Experience developing and implementing campaigns and sophisticated advocacy strategies in support of policy and financing goals, specifically on advancing WEE in Africa.

  • Expertise and proficiency in government relations, advocacy, and resource mobilization specifically on WEE across both donor and low and middle income countries (LMIC) markets – with deep work experience and knowledge of the political economy of the African continent - and ability to drive and develop strategy in those areas.

  • Relationship management capabilities to work with multiple partners, including government, UN institutions, other donors, grantees to build a common vision and envision simple and effective but implementable solutions to complex problems.

  • Comfortable in a wide range of cultural, geographic, and operational situations, demonstrating culturally sensitive behavior with a diverse range of people.

  • Knowledge of government policy and budget decision making processes in several countries on the African continent plus experience building strategies for or implementing direct advocacy to government officials.

  • Ability to translate and communicate technical topics to diverse audiences.

  • A demonstrated ability to lead and manage laterally in a constructive, encouraging manner in order to build and sustain collaborative relationships and to influence a wide range of individuals from a diverse set of backgrounds and at different levels.

  • Experience in a dynamic environment with demonstrated ability to juggle multiple and competing demands and establish priorities, while providing continual attention to detail.

  • Calm under pressure with capability to lead and inspire confidence through ambiguity or change.

  • Experience in either the public or non-profit sectors is desirable.

Other Attributes

  • Ability to travel up to 40% domestically and internationally.

Application deadline: 27 November 2023


Hiring Requirements

As part of our standard hiring process for new employees, employment will be contingent upon successful completion of a background check.

Candidate Accommodations

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Inclusion Statement

We are dedicated to the belief that all lives have equal value. We strive for a global and cultural workplace that supports ever greater diversity, equity, and inclusion — of voices, ideas, and approaches — and we support this diversity through all our employment practices.

All applicants and employees who are drawn to serve our mission will enjoy equality of opportunity and fair treatment without regard to race, color, age, religion, pregnancy, sex, sexual orientation, disability, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, genetic information, veteran status, marital status, and prior protected activity.