By any standards, the Women Deliver 2016 Global Conference was a smashing success. The overwhelming takeaway from attendees was that they left better informed, positive about progress made (albeit too slowly) and inspired to take action on behalf of girls and women in future. Many attendees felt that the conference put advocates on the right path as the world begins implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.
We were a diverse group at the conference, representing different industries, different issues, different geographical regions, and different ages (20% of attendees were young people). We also came from different vantage points: the private sector, academia, government, health services, media, UN agencies, and non-governmental organizations. The number of unique organizations at the conference surpassed 2,500. Many of us felt overwhelmed by the sheer volume of challenges facing girls and women, and we didn’t agree on every issue. But what we did agree on is that girls and women are the drivers of development. Investing in them not only benefits individuals, but creates a ripple effect that powers progress for all.
This is why the Women Deliver conferences are so important. They provide the time and space for us to come together and find commonalities. The international community will never achieve the Sustainable Development Goals or significant progress for girls and women unless we work collaboratively across sectors and issues. Sliced and diced we are less powerful; our voices weaker. We needed the Women Deliver 2016 Global Conference to connect, explore, learn from each other, network, and think outside of the box. We needed to move out of our comfort zones. And we needed this global stage — which convened more than 5,759 people and generated a billion media impressions — and ensured that decision makers saw that there is a large and powerful constituency working for girls and women.
We like to think of Women Deliver conferences as fueling stations, where attendees draw new energy and check their long-held assumptions before returning home to do the hard work. Already we are seeing evidence that this work is happening. Only weeks after the conference, attendees were meeting in their home countries to discuss how to go forth collaboratively to influence country plans. We know that change is difficult and takes time, but it is certainly possible. One year from now, we will survey attendees to see what they’ve accomplished so far. It truly is an exciting time.
At Women Deliver, we also are moving forward. To build on conference momentum, we are:
- Producing a panorama of solutions that were presented the conference – replicable programs and idea starters for professionals in global development
- Posting materials, research, editorials, and multimedia tools to broadcast messages of the conference far and wide
- Rolling out the Deliver for Good campaign, a global push that applies a gender lens to the Sustainable Development Goals and promotes 12 critical investments — political, programmatic, and financial — in girls and women to power progress for all
- Exploring how to make the next conference even more action-oriented and accessible to even more people virtually (Please see the last section of this report for more details.)
Our deepest thanks and appreciation, not least to the visionary behind Women Deliver, Founder and President Emeritus, Jill Sheffield. Since 2007, the groundbreaking Women Deliver conferences have united the development community, brought light to the most pressing issues affecting girls and women, and altered the course of our collective future.