The Women Deliver Conference is one of the largest global multi-sectorial convenings to advance gender equality, health, rights and the well-being of girls and women. This year, the conference was held on the 17th -20th July 2023 at the Kigali Conventional Centre in Kigali, Rwanda. The conference was a highly informative and enlightening event focused on addressing gender disparities and promoting equality in all aspects of society under the theme ‘Spaces, Solidarity and Solutions’. The conference attracted more than 6000 participants from diverse backgrounds, including world leaders, policymakers, feminist activists, SRHR advocates, and representatives from non-governmental organizations.
The Women Deliver Conference in Rwanda aimed to achieve several critical objective that included; Catalyzing collective action to advance Gender Equality, Holding leaders accountable, Empowering the feminist movement, Reframing who leads and Creating space.
The Women Deliver Conference featured a multi-faceted program, consisting of keynote speeches, panel discussions, interactive sessions, and networking opportunities.
The conference’s main theme that centred on addressing the challenges faced by grass root feminist movements and developing an accessible and inclusive space while welcoming all allies strengthened the understanding of all attendees on ways to promote a more equitable future all.
Renowned, high-profile speakers and most powerful voices of the feminist community delivered powerful keynote speeches providing valuable insights into the historical context of gender inequalities and the progress made to date.
They emphasized the importance of collaborative efforts to further gender equality and the role of individuals, communities, and institutions in driving meaningful change.
Our Team leader Joan Kembabazi happily met and engaged with some of these renowned girls and women’s rights advocates like Malala Yousafzai(Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Co-Founder of Malala Fund) ,Princess Mabel Van Oranje (Founder, Girls Not Brides, Vow for Girls and Girls First Fund),Dr.Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda(Former African Union Goodwill Ambassador on Ending Child Marriage),Sima Bahous (Executive Director, UN Women),Helen Clark(Former Prime Minister, New Zealand), Natalia Kanem(Executive Director, UNFPA) among others.
Malala Yousafzai emphasized the need to support, collaborate with those who are younger and making sure their voices are heard and amplified.
Several panel discussions explored critical issues related to gender equality, including gender-based violence, gaps in funding Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights and Education among adolescent girls and young women, workplace diversity and inclusion, access to education, and healthcare.
The conference provided a platform to discuss and promote policy initiatives and advocacy efforts aimed at creating a more inclusive and equitable society where Experts and practitioners shared their experiences, research findings, and successful interventions that have had a positive impact on gender equality.
Interactive side events
Interactive side events allowed attendees to actively engage in diverse topics around issues girls and women are still facing in this generation.
Some of the side events attended included; Working together to address sexual violence against girls and women, Uniting for menstrual justice to advance Gender Equality, Our Education, Our Rights, Advancing climate justice and Gender Justice, Preventing child marriage through Comprehensive Sexuality Education, Demanding Reproductive Justice and Rights: Responses to the climate crisis .Participants had the opportunity to discuss concrete actions they could take to advance gender equality in their respective spheres of influence.
We were able to join our fellow members of the Period Equality Network led by the Irise Institute East Africa for an impactful session titled “Uniting for Menstrual Justice to advance Gender Equality” where experts in menstrual health, representatives from NGOs, governments and the United Nations discussed how we can advocate for menstrual equity within the communities we work for and with.
As members of Transforming Education (TE) that is hosted by UNGEI, we were represented by our Team leaders Joan Kembabazi during a concurrent session titled “Harnessing the power of education to end harmful gender norms and stereotypes” that was led by Transforming Education.”. Joan delivered a statement on the genuine fight to ending harmful gender norms not being against our cultures but it is part of our cultures and the land we live on and so we need to break and dismantle barriers starting at grassroot.
Art and Exhibitions (Innovations for Women's Empowerment)
Youth as agents of change
The conference sparked a renewed sense of urgency and enthusiasm among young people in addressing gender issues and being agents of change in their communities.
Maliha Khan, CEO of Women Deliver during the Youth Pre-Conference called upon young people to stand in solidarity with the communities they work for and with and never be afraid to shake tables to transform the World.
The conference through the different plenaries and side events served as a catalyst for increased advocacy efforts by empowering attendees with knowledge and inspiration to hold our leaders accountable for their commitments and also effect change at the grassroots level.
To combat gender stereotypes and discrimination, educational reforms are essential. The conference underlined the need to integrate gender-transformative education and Comprehensive Sexuality Education into national curricula and create safe learning environments for all.
The conference provided ample opportunities for networking and connecting with change-makers and organizations allowing us all to form and forge valuable partnerships and collaborations for future initiatives.
Attending the Women Deliver Conference was a transformative experience that broadened our understanding of gender-related issues and provided valuable insights into the efforts being made to achieve equality.
The event reinforced the notion that collective action, supporting grass root feminist initiatives, and policy reforms are crucial for advancing Gender Equality and so creating a more equitable society.
As we return from the conference, we are inspired to continue playing an active role in advocating for gender equality with the lessons learnt and contributing to positive change in our communities and beyond.