When we came together to form Yarrow Global Consulting we knew that what bound us together was our desire to change the system in order to do away as much as possible with the strict men/women dichotomy that limits us all. To do that requires tackling gender equality on multiple fronts such as helping to create more women leaders, giving parents and especially mothers the skills to advocate for themselves, the health of their families, and their environment. It also means helping to change the workplace to be flexible to the needs of all their employees. Symbolically and practically, we found that the yarrow plant brought many of these characteristics together, making it an obvious choice for the name for our consultancy group.
As far back as 60,000 years ago people have found fossilized Yarrow pollen in burial caves, pointing to its continued use by many cultures. Yarrow (Achillea millefolium,), a flowering plant in the sunflower family has a long history of being used especially by women to deal with menstrual issues and family planning and by many cultures to ward off evil. It grows everywhere around the world, and easily on poor soils. It’s extensive root network means it helps reduce erosion by binding the soil together and it doesn’t need a lot to flourish.
Like all people from all genders around the world, Yarrow is extremely diverse and comes in all kinds of shapes, sizes and colors. The plant not only embodies both the beauty, strength, and resiliency that we see as the main outcome of a gender equal world, but it has also been used as a tool to actively shape the future. At Yarrow Global Consultancy, we aim to continue on and add to this legacy.
Who are you and what do you aim to do?
We are a mother-daughter team who decided to start a small consulting NGO to help achieve our goal of ‘harnessing the power of gender equality to create sustainable solutions.’ Although we all come from different work backgrounds (health, leadership, and the environment), gender is central in all three. We want to “rethink gender” in order critically analyze gender roles, gender divisions and gender bias as they come up in those three fields, moving away from the dichotomy of man-woman that tends to be recreated by many programs aimed at gender equality. In a world infused by divisions our aim is to focus on what unites us – as people. Parenthood for example. Or work. If we continue to look at what helps mothers and fathers as separate units we may end up reinforcing these gender roles. Rather, we need to look at what strengthens families, what aspects of parenthood are rewarding, where are the biggest challenges, what skills do we gain as parents – regardless of our sex – and how do we nourish each other. Or workplace equality. Rather than focusing on empowering or advocating for one gender we should start thinking about how we can change many of the structures of the workplace to allow for everyone to thrive.
While the three of us together have a solid skill set and experiences to build on, we see Yarrow’s main strength being the our joint network of people, especially women, that we are able to collect around us and tap into.
When did it all start?
Our mission started at the beginning of 2019. Sylvia is still involved in some pretty work-intensive consulting projects around Central Asia and East Africa, Lila is juggling two kids and her own consulting work in Germany, and Sarah is based on another continent in New York so it was definitely a challenge to coordinate meetings, navigate German bureaucracy and decide collaboratively on everything from the name to the color of the business cards. But we did it. In July 2019 Yarrow was registered, in September 2019 we came up with a plan, in January 2020 we launched the website and now here we are with our first blog entry!
What will you do?
Through a series of projects and consultancies, we are aiming to better understand the hurdles facing gender equality and tap in through our networks to areas where we can help tackle some of those hurdles. For our first event on February 29th, we had two dozen women from different backgrounds come together in Karlsruhe to talk about the biggest hurdles facing women today, their own personal challenges achieving gender equality professionally and privately, and what solutions they imagine could lead to more gender equality. The results were very stimulating and will orient our work in the coming year.
Does that mean you won’t have any projects that only focus on one gender?
On a strategic and theoretical level our projects always aim towards steering the focus towards a definition of gender that is more fluid. However, in the practical implementation of gender equality projects we still see the necessity of championing women and women’s rights. Women around the world still suffer more inequality and have less resources – structurally, politically, financially and otherwise. This is even more true for trans-women, indigenous women, and racial minorities. So while we definitely intend on supporting projects with all genders, projects that focus on women’s needs and self-actualization will be central to our company.
So what comes next?
We’ve had our first strategy meeting about what projects we will be doing and supporting in the upcoming two years and have launched this blog and a newsletter. We will be writing regularly about different women all over the globe as well as topics that help and hinder gender equality. We see this blog and the newsletter as a way to keep a conversation going around these issues, so join the conversation!
Later this year we’ll be putting on our first big project dealing with the care economy and invisible labor. Our kick-off event showed that this continues to be one of the main themes that women deal with, all around the world. This project will be aimed at bringing both women and men into the conversation. Because especially in this area there is no way around it – we have to count on the support of our male counterparts if we are going to change the gender balance in the care economy. Keep your eyes peeled for more information about this event, or else you can also sign up to our newsletter or follow us on facebook for updates.
And finally in everything we do we try to promote and work with women. We do this because we believe in the power of networking, not because we have any sort of financial gain. Our webpage was created by a working mother, the room where we held our Kick Off is a women-led company the photos were taken by a female photographer. We are always looking for collaborators who are women, focused on gender equality, or have women-led businesses.If you want to get on board, send us an e-mail or write a comment at firstname.lastname@example.org – we would love to hear from you!