In 2007 the maternal mortality rate was atrociously high. World leaders needed to step up, rally around the issue and commit to action. And, they needed a place to do it. To fill the void, the Women Deliver Conference was born.
Women Deliver debuted as a global conference in London in 2007, under the visionary leadership of Jill W. Sheffield. At the time it was described as a “groundbreaking” event and credited with igniting a movement that was desperately needed. In 2010 the organization lead the charge to put Millennium Development Goal 5 – Improve Maternal Health – on the global development agenda.
That same year Women Deliver piloted a Young Leaders Program, to elevate the incredible potential and passion of young advocates by providing them to skills-building training and access to platforms for them to share their voices and experiences. The Young Leaders Program has engaged 1,000 youth advocates under the age of 30 to date, representing more than 148 countries, supplementing and strengthening their work through online learning communities, high-level networking, speaking opportunities, and seed grants.
Today, Women Deliver is recognized as a key player and advocate for gender equality and the health, rights, and wellbeing of girls and women.
Over a Decade of Impact
In 2007, the maternal mortality rate was high and falling too slowly. World leaders and advocates needed to step up, rally around the issue, and commit to action. And they needed a place to do it. To fill the void, the Women Deliver Conference was born. By bringing together 1,700 people and making the investment case for reproductive and maternal health, Women Deliver was able to get Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5 – Improve Maternal Health – on the global development agenda.
Women Deliver realized that it had an important role to play on our shared journey to achieving the MDGs, and that long-term advocacy for reproductive, maternal, and newborn health and rights is crucial to advancing progress toward a healthier, more equitable world for girls and women, in all their intersecting identities, everywhere.
In close partnership with the African Union, UNFPA, and others, Women Deliver launched CARMMA – a campaign to drive concerted and increased action toward improving maternal and newborn health and survival across Africa – with the theme “Africa cares: No woman should die while giving life.” More than three dozen countries joined the effort.
In addition to championing sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) with the support of 3,400 advocates, Women Deliver’s 2nd Conference meaningfully engaged youth, providing a platform for 100 young leaders to share their expertise and call on decision makers to prioritize the advancement of girls and women’s health and rights.
Women Deliver engaged the private sector to build a new community of champions, called C-Exchange, to improve maternal health and access to reproductive health services globally. The alliance led to the creation of the Women Deliver Young Leader seed grant program, which provides multiple USD $5,000 seed grants to young people annually to support six-month projects aimed at advancing girls’ and women’s health, rights, and wellbeing in their communities.
Women Deliver launched Catapult, a web-based crowdfunding platform designed to drive donations from people to projects that advance the lives of girls and women around the world. Catapult was one of the first crowdfunding initiatives to support women’s projects exclusively. It provided funding to over 400 projects, reaching millions of girls and women before going independent in 2014.
The Conference brought together over 4,500 attendees from 149 countries and featured a wide range of speakers, topics, and events related to the health and well-being of girls and women. More than 1,000 participants were sponsored to attend the Conference. Women Deliver financially supported travel and accommodations for 23 percent of delegates, launched a social enterprise competition, and was instrumental in the Prime Minister of Malaysia’s main stage declaration that family planning was a human right.
Women Deliver expanded its scope beyond maternal and reproductive health to gender equality. Simultaneously, in 2014 and 2015, Women Deliver supported the process leading up to the negotiation and adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), helping ensure the centrality of gender.
This campaign, taking place on the backdrop of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, focused on the correlation of girls’ involvement in sport and their long-term health and leadership. 180 organizations signed the Call to Action for global leaders to get more girls in the game.
As one of the first major global convenings following the launch of the SDGs, the Conference underscored the crucial role of advancing girls and women’s health and rights across all of the SDGs to drive progress for all. Ninety-seven percent of the Conference’s 6,000 attendees affirmed that they would take action as a result of attending WD2016.
Established in 2016 with 10 founding partners, the Deliver for Good Campaign applies a gender lens to the SDGs and promotes evidence-based policies, programming, and investments in girls and women. Since launching, the Campaign has grown to more than 450 supporting organizations and two national campaigns in Kenya and Senegal committed to mainstreaming gender equality across the SDGs via convening, capacity-sharing, and campaigning.
Women Deliver began advising several multinational companies on how to apply a gender lens to their corporate strategies, including Johnson & Johnson and Unilever, participating in UN-led multilateral alliances, and providing strategic guidance to countries working to establish feminist foreign policies.
Women Deliver launched the Humanitarian Advocates Pilot Program, which provides direct support to five women-led civil society organizations (CSOs) in Lebanon that are at the forefront of humanitarian response in their communities. The program also provides guidance to support the humanitarian sector at large in delivering the strongest possible response for girls and women in crisis settings.
Women Deliver pushed for gender transformative policy change at the highest levels of government as a member of Canada’s 2018 G7 Gender Equality Advisory Council (GEAC). Many of the over 60 recommendations that Women Deliver provided the council were included in official G7 outcome documents and commitments.
With more than 8,000 advocates from over 165 countries on site and over 200,000 people joining around the world through satellite events and the virtual Conference, WD2019 became the largest convening for gender equality in the world. The Conference connected grassroots advocates and decision makers, fueled over USD 1 billion in global and country-level investments, and shined a global spotlight on the importance of gender equality.
As a member of the Gender Equality Advisory Council (GEAC) for the French Presidency of the G7, Women Deliver helped drive political commitment by the G7 and other governments for gender equality. Notably, together with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and UN Women, Women Deliver drafted an accountability framework designed to hold governments accountable to their commitments, and contributed to the adoption of at least one law to further gender equality in most G7 countries.
Women Deliver welcomed the largest and most diverse new class of Women Deliver Young Leaders to date, made up of 300 young changemakers from 96 countries around the world who are committed to advancing gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights, including on the frontlines of both the COVID-19 response and worldwide movement for racial justice.
Through a year-long consultative process with partner organizations and experts, Women Deliver launched a new Strategic Framework that is grounded in a human rights approach, guided by anti-colonialist, intersectional feminist principles, and deepens our focus in Health and SRHR, Women’s Economic Rights and Justice, and Climate Action. A world where the guaranteed health and rights of girls and women is possible, and through its new 2021-2025 Strategic Framework, and alongside partners, Women Deliver hopes to achieve this goal.