By Ferdinand Maniraguha | IGIHE | 23 November 2021
NEW YORK, 23 November 2021 (IGIHE) | Rwanda has been selected as the first African country to host the next Women Deliver Conference, the world’s largest conference on gender equality and the health, rights, and wellbeing of girls and women in the 21st century.
The development to host the conference due in Kigali, Rwanda and virtually from 17-20 July 2023 was announced on Thursday 18th November 2021 during an event that brought together over 2,000 gender equality advocates gathered virtually.
Women Deliver convenings catalyze conversations with stakeholders from around the world, breaking barriers, addressing challenges, and identifying opportunities to advance gender equality, including sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), to improve the health, rights, and wellbeing of girls and women, in all their intersecting identities.
In July 2023, WD2023 will convene thousands of decision-makers from diverse fields, including civil society, government, the private sector, and international agencies, alongside women’s rights organizations and movements, youth-led and LGBTQIA+ organizations, and advocates representing the intersectional identities of girls, women, and underrepresented populations in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), to identify solutions and drive progress for gender equality.
Commenting on the development, Rwanda’s Minister of Gender and Family Promotion, Minister Jeanette Bayisenge, who is also Chair of the WD2023 Host Country Committee said: “For the very first time, the Women Deliver Conference will be held on the African continent. It is an honor for Rwanda to be the next host of this convening as it affirms that the ongoing efforts in-country around gender equality by the Government of Rwanda are gaining the desired traction.”
She expressed optimism that gender equality will be achieved once all people have equal access to power, dignity, justice, rights, health, and opportunities that will enable them to network, develop skills, share knowledge, access funding opportunities, and participate in conversations that contribute to the global agenda setting on gender equality.
At the event, Joshua Tabah, Director General, Global Health & Nutrition, Global Affairs Canada, symbolically passed the baton – the Women Deliver arrow – to Bayisenge and said: “With more than 8,000 advocates from over 165 countries on-site and more than 200,000 people joining around the world through satellite events and the virtual program, the Women Deliver 2019 Conference (WD2019) was one of the most impactful and influential convenings for gender equality in the world.
The last Women Deliver Conference connected grassroots advocates and decision-makers, fueled over USD one billion in global and country-level investments, and shined a global spotlight on the importance of gender equality. The Women Deliver 2023 Conference will once again promote a robust civic space for feminist action, organizing, and mobilization. The work that started in 2019 must continue and we are honored to pass the arrow to Rwanda.”
As a part of a US$ four million programming investment around gender equality, WD2023 will serve as a critical policy moment and an opportunity for stock-taking and accountability at the midpoint of the United Nations’ Generation Equality Forum’s five-year process for global gender equality action, to achieve irreversible progress towards gender equality by 2026, founded on a series of ambitious actions. In effect, WD2023 can provide advocates and Action Coalition Leaders alike the necessary platform to re-convene, evaluate progress, and reconfigure actions, as needed, to ensure these transformative gender equality commitments will be realized by 2026.
“The Women Deliver 2023 Conference comes at a time when support for the health, rights, and wellbeing of girls and women is more critical than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately burdened girls and women, threatens to roll back hard-earned gains in gender equality progress, and has disrupted global convenings. Yet, on the heels of this year’s landmark Generation Equality Forum, we know sustained advocacy and investment in gender equality, plus opportunities to evaluate progress, over the next five years will be vital to realize the many commitments made for girls and women at the Forum.
Therefore, Women Deliver is proud to launch WD2023 with an Advisory Group of over 60 expert global stakeholders who will co-create the most inclusive and accessible Women Deliver Conference with us and build momentum to the main stage in July 2023,” said Kathleen Sherwin, Interim President and CEO of Women Deliver.
Consisting of over 30 organizations based in all major geographic regions in the world and representing all six GEF Action Coalition leaders, civil society, philanthropic organizations, governments, media, UN Agencies, the private sector, and youth, including the Women Deliver Young Leaders, the WD2023 Advisory will provide strategic advice and input on the development and implementation of the Conference and Global Dialogue by co-leading and co-creating the Conference’s theme, design, and programming. For the first time, one-third of the Advisory Group members were selected via an open application process, and 60 percent of WD2023’s Advisory Group members belong to organizations based in LMICs.
In the coming months, the Advisory Group will come together to begin designing the details of WD2023. New Conference program elements will be previewed to the public this spring and registration will open during the official WD2023 one-year-out launch event, hosted by and held in Kigali, Rwanda, in July 2022.
Ultimately, WD2023 will create a space for gender equality advocates and decision-makers to come together to engage in critical dialogue, knowledge sharing, and networking. By engaging in the next Women Deliver Conference, Women Deliver hopes that advocates will be inspired to take action and harness new knowledge, skills, and connections to achieve their advocacy goals. It is only in partnerships – and as a result of the contributions of many – that gender equality will be realized.
A new global dialogue led by regional convening partners
Six months prior to WD2023, a Global Dialogue will be launched to equip advocates around the world with the knowledge and skills they need to address the most pressing challenges around gender equality and SRHR in their own communities, countries, and regions. The Global Dialogue will include webinars and workshops and will be carried out locally while remaining globally accessible. Satellite events will also be held in local communities around the world, hosted by a wide range of partners, including civil society, the private sector, governments, and youth advocates.
Additionally, WD2023’s Regional Convening Partners , which already include the Governments of Colombia and South Africa, will lead the mobilizing and convening of advocates within their geographic regions to advance the conversation around gender equality before, during, and after the Conference as part of WD2023’s expanded Global Dialogue.
Claudia López, Mayor of Bogotá, Colombia and WD2023’s Latin America and the Caribbean Regional Convening Partner, shared, “WD2023 and the Global Dialogue are opportunities for the Latin America and the Caribbean region to showcase the work, the solutions, the innovations, and the policies that are making a difference in the lives of girls and women here. More than half of women in Latin America work in informal jobs or in jobs that were affected during the pandemic in higher frequencies than men. We are looking forward to working with stakeholders in the region and identifying and reaching out to partners across sectors and issue areas, including those who may be unlikely allies. It will take us all working together to achieve gender equality and the city of Bogotá pledges to be a leader in that work.”
“We are excited that WD2023 will be hosted in Africa and look forward to working with our colleagues in Rwanda to highlight the solutions and the progress made on gender equality and the SRHR of girls and women across the continent,” said Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities in South Africa and WD2023’s African Regional Partner. “We understand that transformative change, specifically economic empowerment, can only happen when we collaborate to back our girls and women through entrepreneurship and by activating cross-border trade across the continent. By providing a platform at WD2023, we will be able to have conversations that will help us reach the Sustainable Development Goals.”
The Regional Convening Partners, as part of the Global Dialogue, aim to present new evidence and knowledge, promote solutions, and engage a broader spectrum of voices than ever before to catalyze action for all girls and women in the lead-up to WD2023, and connect diverse communities and sectors by linking previously disparate organizations and movements to drive collective action on gender equality and SRHR. Through the addition of regionally-led convenings, WD2023 will have greater global impact.
About Women Deliver 2023
WD2023 will leverage innovative ways to host both 6,000 participants on-site in Kigali and an estimated 200,000 participants virtually through a hybrid convening model. This model aims to enable communities often underrepresented at global convenings to be able to participate meaningfully. Women Deliver will continue to closely monitor the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that the next Conference is safe and accessible, both for those attending in-person and those attending virtually.
“Women Deliver Conferences have traditionally gathered advocates from around the world with the aim of galvanizing momentum towards collective action with and for all girls and women. These Conferences have resulted in diverse stakeholders making political and financial commitments and improving policies and programs which advance gender equality and SRHR. It gives me great pride to be part of the Women Deliver 2023 Conference announcement and to support the preparations for what promises to be Women Deliver’s most inclusive, accessible, diverse, and consultative Conference to-date,” Helen Clark, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand and Women Deliver Board Member, said.
“Young people have and will continue to play a critical role in advancing gender equality. Since the very first Women Deliver Conference in London in 2007, Women Deliver Conferences have recognized that a gender-equal future relies on the meaningful engagement of young people in the policies and programs that impact their lives and communities. As an alum of the Women Deliver Young Leader Program, I’m honored to continue working with Women Deliver as they embark on a journey to Rwanda. I look forward to seeing young advocates like me represented in pre-Conference planning activities and all aspects of Conference programming — from plenary sessions to side events. And, I look forward to WD2023 being one of the most diverse and inclusive gender equality conferences yet, as Women Deliver addresses the intersectionality which exists in our communities," said Zanda Desir, Saint Lucian activist and Women Deliver Young Leader Alum.
Women Deliver and partners have worked to ensure that the next Women Deliver Conference is inclusive, diverse, accessible, and consultative — from day one. In 2020, Women Deliver conducted an online survey with nearly 4,500 advocates to better understand impact and outcomes from the WD2019 Conference.