Ending gender discrimination once and for all
The association Women Deliver (WD) hosted the 4th edition of their global conference in Copenhagen, Denmark from May 16-19, 2016, after their previously successful launch in October 2007 in London, followed by conferences in Washington DC in 2010 and Malaysia in 2013. Women Deliver is a leading global advocate for girls’ and women’s health rights and wellbeing, bringing together under one roof diverse voices and interests to advance on maternal, sexual and reproductive health rights, with the goal of making female empowerment a reality. The Monegasque association GenderHopes, whose mission is to end gender-base violence and discrimination, is a fervent supporter of Women Deliver.
All lives have equal value
One of the most exciting moments of the conference was the announcement by the Gates Foundation, whose motto is “All lives have equal value”, to commit $80 million over the next three years to close the data gap on gender, an extraordinary development for the future of gender equality. The desire and new initiatives for gender equality become however limited when we consider that women are barely represented in statistics. How can a society move forward when it doesn’t know what its girls and women are doing? Only with investments such as the one by the Gates Foundation can we begin to tackle some of the major issues facing girls and women in the developing world. With such projects firmly in place, governments will be able to take action and create policies that will improve and benefit the lives of women. Such measures, as illustrated during the conference, will garner unparalleled social and economic benefits the world over.
Melinda Gates, who was present at the meeting, emphasized: “We know women and girls do count. And they are counting on us.” Vibeke Brask Thomsen, founder of GenderHopes is a strong supporter of such initiatives and is confident about the positive impact this major investment will have on local and national policies.
Sources of inspiration and a call for action
Another highlight from the conference was the interview with Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Clark discussed the importance of governments and laws in the process of change for gender equality and female advancement. Of specific interest was her focus on a ‘bottom up movement’ in making women agents for change. Clark described young women and girls as “people who can make the most positive contribution to society”. While there is a huge responsibility for governments and lawmakers to address the challenges facing women in the modern world, Clark expressed a sentiment often overlooked: that women at every level of society can contribute to this movement. Only when women become aware of their potential and feel empowered, positive change will spread exponentially and the future will be bright and just.
There were other significant interviews conducted during the conference, from Hollywood superstar Jessica Biel discussing her thoughts on women’s bodies to messages from the Youth Pre Conference (see photo right.)
Yemurai Nyoni, the founder of the Dot Youth organisation, whose mission is to create global networks of talented, energetic young leaders, believes young people can really inspire change. He captivated the audience when he said, “my strength doesn’t depend on the weakness of others”. Nyoni is convinced that one young person with an idea can impact many lives. His meaningful words got viral on social media, as it summarizes the entire message and importance of achieving gender equality once and for all.
Hillary Clinton, who recently claimed the Democratic nomination making her the first woman to lead a major party’s bid for the White House, took the opportunity in her closing speech at the WD conference, to re-emphasize her now famous statement that women’s rights are human rights, and each level of society has a responsibility to protect that. While many often get the feminist message distorted, it is not about a rearrangement of power, but a goal that allows all members of society to access the same power. It is a message that gives young boys and girls the same hopes and aspirations for the future and the same opportunities to reach them.
Be the change you want to see
Women Deliver is relentlessly leading the way towards increased gender equality and empowered women and girls in many ways.
GenderHopes, firmly believes that after such an inspiring conference in Copenhagen, participants will bring the lessons home, share what they learn, spread the word and take action to keep the momentum going. Together we are more!
“We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons… but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.” Gloria Steinem