WIA And UNESCO Strike Historic Partnership To Support Gender Parity And Inclusion In Animation

Women in Animation (WIA), a global advocacy organization championing equity for women and people of underrepresented gender identities in animation, announced its partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), a global organization protecting and promoting culture for sustainable development and upholding human rights around the globe.

“The partnership between WIA and UNESCO is an opportunity to make global change at the intersection of gender justice, and art, technology, business, and culture,” said Dean. “New animation industries are developing around the world and, together, WIA and UNESCO can advocate for gender equity to be built into the foundation.”

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Since its founding in 1946, UNESCO has collaborated closely with civil society organizations and other partners that support and advance its diverse activities and programs around the globe. UNESCO gives priority to gender equality in line with the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The partnership represents their joint vision to empower and support our contingency in animation, VFX, and gaming, especially in developing countries. WIA President Marge Dean participated in a signing ceremony with Mr. Ernesto Ottone R., UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture, on Friday, November 10, 2023, at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France. She was then a featured speaker at the UNESCO Partner’s Forum.

UNESCO’s gender message is clear: “Women and men must enjoy equal opportunities, choices, capabilities, power and knowledge as equal citizens. Equipping girls and boys, women and men with the knowledge, values, attitudes, and skills to tackle gender disparities is a precondition to building a sustainable future for all.” Over the years, UNESCO has built up a valuable network of cooperation with civil society organizations having expertise in its fields of competence. In fact, civil society actors played a major role in the adoption of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions in 2005. To date, UNESCO has partnered with more than 400 civil society partners, but this marks the first time the worldwide institution has partnered with an animation advocacy organization.

“Civil society actors played a major role in the development and adoption of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions in 2005,” said Toussaint Tiendrebeogo, Secretary of the UNESCO Convention. “Over the last decade, their role has only increased, as countries design and implement new cultural policies. Civil society organizations such as Women in Animation can drive the implementation of the UNESCO 2005 Convention on local, national, regional and international levels and ensure that the concerns of artists and cultural professionals — especially women — are heard,” he added.

“Animation is the perfect universal medium for telling culturally authentic stories that connect global audiences and show us not just the world as it is but the world as it could be,” said Jinko Gotoh, WIA Vice President. “WIA’s goal is to make sure that women and gender nonbinary people are reflected in those worlds, not just in the content but in the leadership and creative teams behind the industry as well as the stories.”

During the Partner’s Forum at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, Dean conducted a presentation entitled “Gender in the Film & Television Industry: Supporting the diversity of cultural expressions in the audio-visual sector through Women in Animation.” Dean highlighted how the advocacy organization is actively removing the frequent barriers faced by creatives of underrepresented gender identities within the animation field. Programs like Stories x Women and WIA’s flagship Mentorship Circles provide learning opportunities and tools for members to advance their overall careers, especially in creative leadership.

Through WIA’s global expansion efforts, partnering with UNESCO will open new opportunities for resources and connections in developing areas like Nepal, where WIA recently announced a partnership with WIA Nepal. WIA Nepal is led by Board President Sampada Malla and sponsored by Incessant Rain Studios, led by Founder/Co-CEO Kiran Bhakta Joshi and co-CEO Deepa Chipalu Joshi. They focus on helping young Nepali women and their families understand that there are viable career opportunities in animation and visual effects and to help those same women get into the industry by providing education scholarships.

The presentation was followed by an informative panel featuring:

  • Marge Dean, WIA President

  • James Filippatos, Vice President for Global Public Policy at The Walt Disney Company

  • Irmak Atabek Ndungu, Co-founder/Executive Producer, MakoKids

  • Deepa Chipalu Joshi, Co-CEO of Incessant Rain Studios

  • Kiran Bhakta Joshi, Founder/co-CEO of Incessant Rain Studios

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