Inspirational Woman Interview: Kunera Moore

Kunera Moore is a Managing Consultant of Human Rights and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Coordinator at Verisk Maplecroft. At Verisk Maplecroft, she serves as the Project Director for Girl Stats, which provides global development data and insights on adolescent girls and young women (aged 15-24). Prior to joining Verisk Maplecroft, she worked in international development for 15 years, including for Plan International, Save the Children, and Terre Des Hommes, where she focused on issues related to human rights, social and protection services for children, and women & girls.

What is your background?

Kunera Moore: I have a background in human rights and the Arab/Islamic world. I studied Arabic and Islamic law, then started working in the humanitarian sector, mostly in the Arab and Islamic world. I managed child focused programs, in post-conflict settings (Kosovo, Eritrea, Sudan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq etc). These programs included education, community based development, child protection and child rights programs, including programs reintegrating child soldiers, programs preventing child marriage, child labor and child trafficking and reintegrating victims of these practices into society.

Working in Cambodia, I saw very clearly both the positive and negative impact business can have on people’s lives, and decided I wanted to work more in the field of business and human right with a focus on women and children.

You are the Project Director of Girl Stats, which provides global development data and insights on women aged 15-24. Can you tell us more about how you got involved with Girl Stats and what initiatives you’ve worked on?

Kunera Moore: Girl Stats is a follow-up initiative from the Girls Discovered website, which was launched in 2009 by Maplecroft with support from the UN and the Nike Foundation. In 2015, Maplecroft with new funding from its parent company Verisk Analytics, decided to update the Girls Discovered website into a more user friendly data platform. Together with my colleague Michelle Carpenter, I took on this exciting project of which Girl Stats is the result! We manage Girl Stats alongside our other work-streams which focus on business and human rights, including modern slavery, migration, forced labor.

The aim of Girl Stats is to empower business to empower girls. Girl Stats encourages companies to think about how their operations impact girls and provides them with the information they need to successfully target investments in order to positively advance the lives of girls around the world.

The interactive platform offers global data on adolescent girls and young women (aged 15-24) across issues such as health, education and labor market participation. This data enables business to identify gaps and understand where their engagement will have the most positive impact. We also showcase examples of where businesses have had positive impacts on the situation of girls through their operations or through their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects. Thirdly we help businesses take action for girls by linking them  up with NGOs focusing on girls.

What are the biggest challenges facing the collection and inference of data related to women and children from an international development context?

Kunera Moore: The biggest challenge is gaps in the data as well as the reliability of the data. For instance data on violence against women or on women’s role in the informal economy is very limited. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has announced it will invest heavily in closing the data gap, which is great news. However, collecting data on issues such as domestic violence and rape within marriage will continue to be difficult given the sensitivities around the subject. Improved legal protection of victims, increased awareness about the issue will help women report on domestic and sexual violence.

Lastly, there still is a gender bias in data collection. For example, household surveys tend to focus primarily on the activities of the breadwinner (usually the male) and so don’t take into account the work women do in relation to childcare, part time work etc.

From your work with Girl Stats, what are some interesting or lesser known facts about women in conflict and migration that you’ve learned?

Kunera Moore: In terms  of  migration, women tend to migrate for very different reasons to men. While men often go in search of opportunities, with the  possibility of bringing family at a later stage, women traditionally tend to migrate as a last resort; for family survival. In patriarchal societies, women also have  limited decision making abilities, and are often prohibited from migrating in the same ways that men do. The decision for women to migrate is usually a last resort, caused by fundamental  concerns about poverty. However, when women do migrate, there are more positive impacts on the families at home. For example, although women tend to earn less money than men, they send more remittances home for longer periods of time, increasing the education and health outcomes of children and other relatives back home.

In terms of conflict, it is a well-known fact that the experience of women and girls is fundamentally different to that of men, due mainly to the widespread use of sexual violence during unrest and war. UN Women has done some fantastic research into women and conflict which shows that in conflict-affected countries, women’s share of parliamentary seats is 4 percentage points lower than the global average of 22.7%, while women only occupy 14% of ministerial positions. There is a lot to think about here in terms of leadership structures in conflict settings, particularly in terms of how female perspectives might prevent conflict, or bring about different resolutions to conflict, and that is why the Windhoek Declaration and the Namibia Plan of Action on Mainstreaming a Gender Perspective in Multidimensional Peace Support Operations (2000) is so important.

You also consult for Plan International, Save the Children, and Terre Des Hommes, working on projects related to child protection and rights. Can you tell us more about these initiatives and your experiences?

Kunera Moore: Before joining Girl Stats and Verisk Maplecroft, I used to focus predominantly on children’s rights, mostly on children involved in the worst forms of child labor, child trafficking and child soldiering. I also worked on setting up national and community based child protection systems, which both helped to prevent and also respond to child protection cases, linking local indigenous care systems to the formal care systems.

I loved my work on these projects, working with very talented and inspirational colleagues in Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia etc.. The resilience and creativity of children and women around the world facing hardship continues to amaze and inspire me. There are so many fantastic projects, initiatives and developments ongoing to improve the outcomes for children and women around the world, which are under-reported by the mainstream press.

That is why we feature these important initiatives on the Girl Stats website, under the “take action” tab, to link businesses to initiatives on the ground that are improving the outcomes of adolescent girls and  young women. In this way, businesses can easily link with and sponsor organisations that are working on issues that directly impact their operations, workforce and supply chain.

What are some overlooked issues related to women and children in the developing world?

Kunera Moore: I think it is very important to apply a holistic view of what impacts women and children, rather than just focusing on one aspect and working on that in isolation. I have found that working on an issue like girls education or women’s employment requires multidimensional work streams including awareness raising, advocacy, sometimes legal and policy changes, training, ensuring support mechanisms exist so that women can go back to work etc. Also understanding the cultural, religious and socioeconomic background is crucial for solutions to be sustainable.

I think too often the strength, agency and power of women and girls are overlooked when designing and implementing projects; I think involving women and girls in the development of strategies, policies and actions that affect them is crucial to their success – they have a vested interest in the success of these initiatives and understand much better what support is needed from whom to realize these, especially on a local level.

On a personal level, why is women’s empowerment important to you?

Kunera Moore: I still find it shocking that even in the UK, where I currently live, we are so far away from gender equality at work, particularly for working mothers; I want my sons to grow up in a world where women and men are paid the same salary and respect for the same job and level of effort – this is not yet the case. I have seen the power of girls and women challenging their limited rights in places like Afghanistan, Yemen and Iraq. When women and girls speak up to demand and implement improvements in their own lives, this is the strongest force for change. Small steps, big steps, they are all important and all contribute to getting to equal. But we need to all keep challenging the status quo where we are.

Can you talk about one woman who has impacted your life?

Kunera Moore: There are so many but mostly my mother: she had four young children when she lost her husband / my father. She was very strong, raised us all on her own, found a job that she liked and showed us how you can continue to enjoy life even after losing  the love of your life. The strength, persistence and sense of humor of my female colleagues in Iraq and Afghanistan will for ever inspire me.

What are your favorite books, websites, films and resources related to women’s empowerment and international development?

Kunera Moore: For news and features pieces, I really like the Women’s Media Center (founded by Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda and Robin Morgan),  Women in the  World and, which features pieces from sources around the  world. For news on development, I love IRIN news service and the Guardian Development Professional Network. On Facebook the group Fifty Shades of Aid – where aid workers can anonymously discuss issues that affect them. I like reading books that are either set or concern the countries I have lived in / am interested in. Because of my focus on the Arab world, I like to read Arabic female authors including Nawal el-Saadawi. I enjoy watching films and documentaries set in or about the countries I have lived in or countries that interest me, including Divorce Iranian style, a separation. Any film by Pedro Almodóvar as female characters are always put center stage, regardless of their flaws and actions. Twitter is also great for connecting with like-minded people who can recommended books, films and websites.

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