COFEM Learning Brief Series
This Learning Brief aims to introduce the principles of feminist project management, which is informed by the concept of feminist leadership and has gained more attention in recent years. This approach offers different ways of being leaders by providing space to organise, facilitate, and govern in ways that challenge and subvert the mainstream leadership models. An explicit focus on power within leadership – from how it shows up within organisations and individuals to how power is defined – allows feminist leaders to focus on its redistribution, with the goal of building power together.
As an approach, project management has been taken on by many charities and civil society organisations (CSOs) as good practice. However, in this learning brief we argue that instead of uncritically adopting existing project management approaches that are rooted in mainstream, western, and patriarchal structures, there is a need to challenge and transform the concept of project management in order to adopt an intersectional feminist approach. Project management is not a neutral practice because of its origins in the Global North and within male-dominated fields. Often in carrying out a project, we can maintain and even reinforce structures that mimic existing power imbalances, privileges, inequalities, and structures of oppression including (but not limited to) heteronormative patriarchy, ableism, and racism – all of which are intertwined with one another.
In the same way that feminist leadership pushes for change in our approach to leadership, feminist project management offers us a transformative way of facilitating project delivery that prioritises our ways of working just as much as meeting milestones. Feminist project management can guide us in transforming project management, realise feminist leadership in practice, create systems and structures that work for all people involved, and allow for different ways of developing project management depending on the context in which the work is situated.