Monitor 2021

The international civil society sector is collectively working towards an equal, just and inclusive society. But to what extent are these values practiced within the organisations themselves? 

The FAIR SHARE Monitor collects data on the proportion of women in staff and leadership of civil society organisations, tracking progress towards our goal: a FAIR SHARE of women leaders by 2030. This year, for the first time, we also collected data on Black, Brown, Indigenous women and women of colour.

About the FAIR SHARE Monitor 

The FAIR SHARE Monitor is a data-based tool that measures and tracks gender equity in the international social impact sector. Based on data we either receive from organisations or research for them, we create a ranking of organisations based on their FAIR SHARE Index, the gap between women on staff and women in leadership. The progress, stagnation or regress of each organisation is measured and made transparent from year to year – making the FAIR SHARE Monitor a tool with which both individual organisations and the sector can hold themselves accountable to gender equity.

Overview of the FAIR SHARE Monitor 2021

For this 3rd edition of the FAIR SHARE Monitor, 56 organisations from the social impact sector were invited to share data on the gender breakdown of their staff and leadership. 

For organisations from which we did not receive data, we researched this information on public websites and shared our findings to give them a chance to amend or confirm our research. 

For organisations that do not actively participate in the Monitor and for which we are able to find data, we assume a proportion of 70% of women on staff. We add a symbol in the ranking to make transparent which organisations did or didn’t confirm their data.

Women’s work not reflected in leadership

According to our research, women comprise around 63%-70% of the international civil society workforce. But the leadership of the sector, over half of which is men, doesn’t reflect this. And while the proportion of women on staff has grown since last year, the proportion of women leaders has stayed at 46%.

Women on staff and in leadership of 56 international organisations

Despite some progress, women are still underrepresented in the leadership of our sector: a man is twice as likely to reach a leadership position than a woman.

Organisations led by women in 56 international organisations

Almost half (43%) of all monitored organisations are led by a woman. However, this signals a downward trend from 2020 when the proportion of organisations with a woman CEO or ED was 45%.

Almost half (43%) of the organisations are led by a woman. However, this actually signals a downward trend from 2020, when the proportion of organisations with a woman CEO or ED was 45%.

While our research confirms that boards still lag furthest behind when it comes to gender equality, there are also indicators of positive change: the proportion of boards with a majority of women has been increasing, from 25% in 2019 to 36% this year.

While senior management teams, made up of 46% women, are more representative than boards, this number has stagnated since last year. Senior management teams with a majority of men, on the other hand, has increased from 45% to 48%.


For more details on the data and results, see the FAIR SHARE Monitor report.

Gender equality, but for whom?

True gender equality will require not only addressing sexism, but also the other forms of discrimination that affect women. We started by asking: how are Black, Brown, Indigenous women and women of colour (BIWoC) faring when it comes to representation in leadership?

BIWOC in leadership: Data from 43 organisations

Gender equality is progressing unevenly: of the 48% women in leadership, only 30% are BIWoC. This means that if you’re a woman, you’re more likely to make it to a top leadership position if you’re white.

BIWOC-led organisations

While 44% of the organisations in the Monitor are led by a woman, only 26% of those woman leaders are BIWoC.

Other indicators compound these findings: 16% of the 43 organisations had zero BIWoC on their board, and 42% had zero in their senior management teams.

The data we were able to gather shows a clear lack of diverse representation in our sector. Focus on gender equality alone, without taking into account intersectionality, can result in primarily white women having access to leadership opportunities. 

The perspectives, experiences and voices of BIWoC need to be uplifted and amplified in order to reach equality both within organisations and in their external programmes. 

Want to learn more about why we started collecting this data?

Let’s make gender equality the new normal

We call upon all civil society organisations who share our vision of a more equitable and inclusive sector to sign the FAIR SHARE Commitment. In doing so, organisations pledge to achieve gender equality in their leadership by 2030.

Only around half of organisations have a FAIR SHARE of women leaders. We define a FAIR SHARE as at least 50% women leaders – or, if the workforce consists of more than 50% women, a correspondingly higher proportion.

In the FAIR SHARE Monitor 2021 ranking, these are organisations with a FAIR SHARE Index value of 15  or below.

Organisations with a FAIR SHARE

Committed to gender equality

By making the FAIR SHARE Commitment, organisations pledge to achieve a FAIR SHARE of women in their leadership by 2030. They also commit to sharing their data with us annually for the FAIR SHARE Monitor.

We are proud to foster a community of 23 organisations actively working towards gender equality. The FAIR SHARE Commitment is open to all civil society organisations who share our vision of a more equitable sector by 2030. 

Want to know more about the FAIR SHARE Commitment, or learn how you can sign up? 

Organisations that signed FAIR SHARE Commitment

FAIR SHARE Monitor 2021 Ranking

What’s changed since 2020?

No two organisations are the same. So their paths to gender equality will also be unique. The FAIR SHARE Monitor maps the development of this process with the help of the FAIR SHARE Index.

This is how the FAIR SHARE Index value of the 34 organisations who participated in the Monitor last year has developed. Changes above 3 index points are shown as an increase or decrease.

Symbols Key

✅ : Data confirmed by organisation

✳️ : Committed organisation

⚠️ : Women staff estimated at 70% due to insufficient gender data

⛔ : Organisation has unsubscribed from Monitor mailing list.

↗ : 3-points decrease in FAIR SHARE Index since last monitored year (progress)

↘ : 3-points increase in FAIR SHARE Index since last monitored year (regress)

→ : No significant change in Fair Share Index since last monitored year

+ : Organisation newly added to the Monitor

RankOrganisationWomen in staffWomen in leadershipProportion of BIWOC in women leadershipFAIR SHARE Index 2021
1Skateistan ✳️ ✅58%59%30%0.3 ↗
2CIVICUS ✳️ ✅76%76%54%0.4 ↗
3350.org ✳️ ✅64%63%25%0.7 →
4Mercy Corps ⚠️70%72%23%1.1  +
5International Planned Parenthood Federation ✅75%74%1.4 ↗
6WeMove Europe ✳️ ✅60%64%0%1.8 ↗
7Frontline AIDS ✳️ ✅73%71%60%1.8 ↗
8Global Witness ⚠️70%64%43%6.4  +
9Plan International ✳️ ✅46%56%7.7  ↘
10AMREF Health Africa ✳️ ✅45%46%7.7 ↗
11Sightsavers International49%45%38%8.0 →
12HelpAge ✳️ ✅49%48%8.6 ↗
13Pact ✳️62%55%25%9.0 ↗
14World Vision International43%45%47%9.1 →
15Oxfam ✳️ ✅63%55%9.7 ↗
16CBM UK ⚠️70%60%22%10.0  +
17VSO ✳️ ✅42%56%33%10.1 ↗
18Restless Development ✳️ ✅42%57%10.2 ↗
19CARE International ✳️ ✅37%44%10.6 →
20Greenpeace International54%46%11.3 →
21Save the Children International37%48%9%11.6 ↗
22ActionAid International ⚠️70%58%100%11.7 ↗
23Norweigan Refugee Council ⚠️70%58%27%12.1  +
24Wikimedia Foundation41%60%50%12.5  +
25International Rescue Committee (IRC)37%41%7%13.1  +
26Change.org ⚠️70%56%60%14.4  +
27EngenderHealth ✳️ ✅42%65%54%14.5 ↗
28Friends of the Earth International ✅78%62%16.2  +
29Transparency International ✳️ ✅56%43%56%18.2  ↘
30Human Rights Watch75%56%13%19.1  ↘
31BRAC International ✳️ ✅71%51%19.7 →
32European Environmental Bureau (EEB) ✅62%45%0%19.8  +
33Ashoka ⚠️70%50%41%20.0  +
34Heifer International ⚠️70%52%31%22.2  +
35Article 19 ✳️ ✅68%48%50%22.7  +
36Habitat for Humanity ✳️ ✅66%45%24.7 →
37Christian Aid ⚠️70%52%36%24.8  +
38WWF International53%36%50%24.9  ↘
39SOS Children's Villages58%39%31%25.0 →
40Hivos International ⚠️70%57%25%29.5  +
41Tearfund ⚠️70%44%13%30.1  +
42ONE ✳️ ✅68%41%23%32.9 →
43Finn Church Aid ⚠️70%53%0%33.3  +
44CBM ✅53%33%33.7 ↗
45Search for Common Ground ⚠️70%41%8%34.1  +
46Amnesty International ✳️ ✅65%38%35.6  ↘
47terre des hommes ✳️ ✅100%67%17%36.7  ↘
48Red Cross, International Committee ⚠️70%38%10%38.3  ↘
49The B Team ✳️94%57%13%38.8  +
50Concern Worldwide ⚠️70%45%22%42.5  +
51ADRA International ✳️ ✅50%21%38%46.8  ↘
55Médecins Sans Frontières ⚠️70%40%33%49.0  +
53WaterAid International ⚠️70%38%33%51.5  +
54Red Cross, International Federation ⚠️70%30%0%53.8 ↗
55Reporters Without Borders ⚠️70%32%22%59.2  +
56Islamic Relief Worldwide ⚠️70%25%100%64.0 ↗

CSOs and foundations are key players in the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Agenda. Not only is gender equality Goal 5 of this agenda, but it is also a condition for achieving the other 16 goals. We hold the sector accountable for meeting this target by measuring and making transparent the proportion of women in leadership every year until 2030. 

But the necessary change cannot be achieved by numbers alone: that’s why we also promote Feminist Leadership as a means of creating a wider cultural transformation in our sector.

Want to learn more about Feminist Leadership, and how you might practice it on an individual or organisational level?

Your feedback is important to us!

Did you find the FAIR SHARE Monitor 2021 insightful? Any concerns or suggestions you would like to share with us? Send your feedback in the contact form below or email us directly: monitor@fairsharewl.org. We look forward to hearing from you!

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