Amplifying voices, driving change: Insights from the Women in Global Development Leadership Forum

Yvonne is a community health worker who is part of the USAID-funded MOMENTUM Integrated Health Resilience project, led by Corus organization IMA World Health.

Amplifying voices, driving change: Insights from the Women in Global Development Leadership Forum

Gender equality and social inclusion are fundamental pillars for building a just and equitable world. At Corus International, we recognize that achieving sustainable development requires addressing the systemic barriers and biases that hold back marginalized communities. Ensuring that people of all genders, races, abilities and religions have equal opportunities to engage is a fundamental aspect of programming across the Corus family of organizations that includes global public health agency IMA World Health, international aid organization Lutheran World Relief, technology for development company CGA Technologies, impact investing fund Ground Up Investing, and direct trade company Farmers Market Brands.

Corus’ recent participation in the 2023 Women in Global Development Leadership Forum, hosted by the WILD Network, not only reinforced our commitment to inclusivity and equality, but also served as a crucial learning opportunity. With seven representatives from Corus in attendance, the WILD Forum was a catalyst for thought-provoking discussions, exchange of actionable insights and collaboration with impactful leaders across the international development sector.

There were several meaningful sessions around championing women as active agents of change within their communities while understanding local realities for context-relevant decision-making. For example, Yesibeth Centeno, our Peru Program Manager, led a community conversation about how technology that is adapted to the needs of migrants and refugees in Peru is advancing women’s entrepreneurship.

Although the WILD Forum may have concluded, Corus is moving forward with a collective commitment to advance critical diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) work.

Learn more from the reflections of our colleagues who participated in the WILD Forum across the globe:


"As a young professional in the field, I spend a lot of time thinking about my future. How does my identity affect my future career path? How can I ‘be better’ to change the structure of development? What can I do, now and moving forward, to center my personal and professional goals on DEIA? Thanks to the WILD Forum, I learned that I’m not alone in my questions. I’m surrounded by a community that is striving to answer the very questions that I ask myself."

-Isabelle Ick, Senior Program Associate, Impact and Partnership

"Achieving true progress on DEIA involves finding a way in which organizational processes adapt to our differences and not the other way around. It requires commitment, openness and transformation, but also budgets, structures and adaptation of spaces to make them accessible. WILD, for me, was to feel that a new vision of the world is being created and shared by many, everywhere; that relevant conversations are taking place and commitments are being generated to make it happen. Small steps that generate big changes."

- Yesibeth Centeno, Peru Project Manager

"The WILD Forum emphasized that we are at a moment of transition when it comes to equity, and it is indeed time to move beyond the status quo. There was a specific line of questioning in a panel about locally led development that is critical for all of us to consider in this sector: ‘How many years have we been talking about capacity building? But when is capacity actually built? Who gets to define that?’"

- Robin Schmid, Senior Manager, Institutional Donor Marketing

The WILD Forum has widened my perspective about the importance of DEI and specifically accessibility to avoid the ‘illusion of inclusion.’ I was reminded that change starts at a personal level, that DEI should be within every company’s culture, but is essential at a personal level to enhance its true implementation.” 

- Judy Yazbeck, Lebanon Project Coordinator

"It was my first time attending such a global forum on leadership, and I am excited that I participated in the trainings. In a communication session, I learned that one has to be self-aware and confident in order to connect with others. The coaching part really helped to realize one’s own mistakes when communicating, and I have learned a lot. Sharing experiences from other participants also inspired me so much."

Bibian Alex, South Sudan Nutrition Officer

"We are at a unique moment. As one speaker said (and I paraphrase), ‘This is not your grandmother’s world, or your mother’s world. It’s a world where state actors have more varied interests and non-state actors are major players, and where individual voices are immediately amplified to earth-shattering roars through social media.’ There is an enormous opportunity for international development workers – like those of us in Corus - to reimagine how we approach development, who participates in it and whose voices are elevated."

- Michael Watt, Vice President, International Programs and Operations

"My big takeaway is how women leaders in our sector are purposefully, unselfishly taking on equality efforts to be inclusive of all ethnicities, of the LGBTQ+ community, of diverse abilities and so much more...If you want DEIA progress, partner with a woman leader."

- Eddie Byrd, Vice President, Global Relationships and Resources