Celebrating International Women’s Day at NSPA

08 March 2019

In the over 100 years since International Women’s Day was first recognized, there have been significant advances for women globally in the work place. NSPA strives to recruit highly qualified and motivated staff who represent the diversity of our member States and are able to make a difference, particularly qualified women. Below we have highlighted some NSPA women who have shared with us some of their insights into their unique jobs and their views on diversity in the workplace. Gerta Shaqe is from Albania and has worked for the past year as a Senior Clerk in the Life Cycle Management Directorate; Charlotte Villeneuve is French and started as Legal Advisor at NSPA last summer; and Sandra Cuenca Barrena from Spain and joined the NSPA in summer 2017 as an Environmental Technical Officer in Support to Operations Directorate.

Gerta Shaqe, Senior Clerk

What is the most interesting thing about your job?
My job offers a wide variety of opportunities. This brings varied work and challenging projects, but a strong and cohesive team makes it possible to tackle each challenge.
The variety of my job is definitely the best part. I love how every day I have a new challenge to conquer and that I can get home at the end of the day with real job satisfaction, knowing that my work has made a real difference.

Why do you think diversity is so important in the workplace?
Our culture influences the way in which we see the world. A variety of viewpoints along with the wide-ranging personal and professional experience in an international team can offer new perspectives that inspire colleagues to see the workplace—and the world—differently.
Diversity of thought has been shown to breed creativity and drive innovation, helping to solve problems and meet organization needs in new and exciting ways. Fundamentally, an inclusive and culturally diverse organization will attract talented, ambitious, and globally minded professionals who will appreciate the opportunity for personal and professional growth.
Thus, working across cultures can be a truly enriching experience, allowing others to learn about perspectives and traditions from around the world. Bonding over similarities and differences can help you to become a global citizen, abandoning prejudices, or an ethnocentric worldview—something that is increasingly valuable.

International Women’s Day was first marked over a 100 years ago – Why do you think the day is still relevant?
Being a woman myself, it really feels nice to have a special day for women too, when they can be appreciated and honoured. However, I feel that women should be respected not just, because they are women, but also because they are individuals with their own identity. They contribute equally to the betterment of the society. If I can be little biased then I would say, if there are no women on the earth then mankind would cease to exist because it’s women who brings life to this earth. Every woman is special whether she is working at home, or office, or doing both. She plays an important role in the upbringing of children and managing their home efficiently.
We should continue putting in all our efforts. There is no situation in which we women are less in comparison to men. It is just our mindset and changing our mindset and our actions is the first thing we should focus on. Our actions and thoughts will lead us to the great height of our dreams and further let the world believe in us and in our deeds. Women’s day for me, is just a moment that makes me realise the efforts we have put in throughout the rest of the year for ourselves and all other people linked to us.
Each women should understand their importance and should have the courage to build in their efforts for their own progress.

Is there anyone (Male or Female) that inspires you in your career?
Lady Thatcher encouraged me to follow in her footsteps simply through leading by example and getting on with doing things. Talking about the challenges, hurdles and difficulties that may stand in our way, overindulging in discussion of our potential lack of opportunities and discrimination in the workplace does little to encourage change. Lady Thatcher was so busy breaking barriers that she had no time to talk about them. To say she did nothing for women is deeply unfair. The influence of Lady Thatcher also had a direct impact on my career and gave me the encouragement and belief I needed to leave my established previous career. I made the leap to being part of the new Acquisition, Planning and Development Office in NSPA, whose role is to scan the horizon for future initiatives that could bring advantages to the agency, so it can anticipate future projects and identify multinational solutions.

What advice would you give to your younger self?
Always remember that nothing is worth sacrificing your dignity and integrity. Be true to yourself and others.

Charlotte Villeneuve, Conseillère juridique

Quel est l’aspect le plus intéressant de votre travail?
Le côté le plus intéressant de mon travail vient de la variété des sujets traités. Je peux ainsi être amenée à répondre à des questions liées au droit du travail et aux ressources humaines, à élaborer un avis juridique sur un litige contractuel, ou encore à vérifier le contenu de traités ou d’accords de partenariats avec des Nations ou d’autres organisations. Ainsi, cela requiert de savoir jongler d’une matière à l’autre et de pouvoir combiner les aspects académiques du droit à la réalité pratique des activités de l’Agence, tout en prenant en compte les éventuelles susceptibilités humaines ou diplomatiques. L’autre aspect de mon travail que j’apprécie particulièrement provient de l’environnement de travail et de la diversité culturelle des acteurs qui m’entourent.  Le tout crée un mélange intellectuel enrichissant qui fait que je ne m’ennuie jamais.

Pourquoi pensez-vous que la diversité est si importante sur le lieu de travail?
Je pense que la question de savoir si la diversité est importante sur le lieu de travail ne fait plus de doute. Il a déjà été démontré à maintes reprises que les sociétés qui incluent la diversité et l’intégration dans leurs activités ont de meilleurs résultats sur le plan de la performance et de l’innovation. La diversité, que ce soit la diversité culturelle ou la diversité hommes-femmes, favorise l’ouverture et l’échange d’opinions, contribue à développer une curiosité saine, mais permet également un meilleur équilibre dans l’appréciation des risques et une plus grande harmonie dans les rapports humains. Je crois que le débat aujourd’hui doit surtout porter sur la question de savoir comment encourager et mettre en œuvre cette diversité. Si l’on se limite à la question de la diversité hommes-femmes, je pense que cela passe tout d’abord par la question de l’égalité dans le milieu professionnel. Il est important de permettre aux femmes d’accéder à des postes à responsabilité, de leur donner la parole et de contrer toutes formes de harcèlement ou de messages véhiculant des clichés sexistes.

La Journée Internationale de la Femme a été célébrée la première fois il y a plus de 100 ans – Pourquoi pensez-vous que cette journée est toujours d’actualité?
Je pense que la Journée Internationale des Femmes ou, comme en France, Journée Internationale « des Droits des Femmes », aura toujours du sens tant que l’égalité hommes-femmes dans toutes sociétés ne sera pas atteinte et que des femmes subiront encore les effets du sexisme. Il est malheureusement indéniable que cet objectif n’a pas encore été atteint.

Y a-t-il quelqu’un (Homme ou Femme) qui vous inspire dans votre carrière?
Je ne peux pas dire que ce sont des personnes qui m’inspirent à proprement parler dans ma carrière, mais j’avoue avoir de l’admiration pour des femmes qui ont atteint les sommets de l’échelon politique comme Angela Merkel, ou encore Theresa May. Ce n’est pas tant le message politique qu’elles portent mais plutôt la détermination et le courage avec lequel elles le portent (face à des audiences pour la plupart du temps essentiellement masculines) que je trouve très inspirants.

Quel conseil donneriez-vous à votre plus jeune “vous”?
Le conseil que je donnerai à mon « moi » plus jeune, serait d’avoir davantage confiance en moi et de suivre mon instinct. 

Sandra Cuenca Barrena, Environmental Technical Officer

What is the most interesting thing about your job?
As Environmental Technical Officer, the most interesting things about my job is the variety of the work. I tend to work on projects of different natures that encourage and promote environmental sustainability. There are all very different things that makes it especially fun to learn about. I am especially grateful to my teams for this opportunity. At the end of the day, if you are an engineer that is willing to learn there is a LOT of knowledge that you can pick up in a short space of time!

Why do you think diversity is so important in the workplace?
When you think about diversity, what springs to mind? The first things that people usually think of are factors such as age, gender, race, cultural background, etc., but there is far more to creating a diverse workplace than hiring people who fit into different age brackets or creating the perfect male to female ratio.
Though we may share things in common with other individuals, at the end of the day everyone is their own person and can bring different things to the table, which is why diversity is so important among a team. By hiring people with different personalities and at varied stages of their career, it can help to foster creativity and offer a range of perspectives and ideas.

International Women’s Day was first marked over a 100 years ago – Why do you think the day is still relevant?
Yes, the day should be as it’s. Inspired by movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp, the #PressForParity campaign encourage people everywhere to continue to speak out, stand up, and advocate for gender equality.

Is there anyone (Male or Female) that inspires you in your career?
There are many ways I can find inspiration, for example follow my passions. We all have a unique perspective on the things we find most fascinating and enjoyable in life. Actually, my main sources of inspiration is look around and observe through all my new environments.

What advice would you give to your younger self?
Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.
“Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady. I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women.” – Nora Ephron

This year, for the second time, NSPA will join other NATO agencies participating in the online Global Careers Fair for Women in International Organizations. We are inviting talented women to chat live with one or more of our Recruiters on Thursday, 14 March 2019. Find out more on by following this link.