Statement from Women Deliver: Reimagining Our Future
Over the past decade, Women Deliver has been working at the forefront of the gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) movement. We began as a conference and a 20th anniversary campaign for the neglected Safe Motherhood Initiative, with an exclusive focus on reproductive, maternal, and newborn health. We grew in size and scope and evolved into an independent advocacy organization focusing on gender equality more broadly, while remaining strongly rooted in SRHR. Now, facing new challenges, Women Deliver is prepared to evolve again.
Women Deliver has made notable contributions to the gender equality movement, but now moving forward we need to apply intersectional principles better to our work and fully embrace sharing our power with the girls and women we advocate for and with. Throughout the last few months, we have worked hard to course correct, but there is still more to do to truly transform into an anti-racist, global organization that centers the people most impacted by our work.
While working on our transformation, like many organizations in our space, we are also facing a difficult funding landscape. The world is squarely focused on COVID-19 response and recovery, and funding for other issues, even those as interlinked with the pandemic as sexual and reproductive health and rights and gender equality, has diminished.
Recalibrating and evolving
A confluence of factors, including our financial reality, paired with the time needed to continue deeply and meaningfully reforming our policies, practices, and structure to become an anti-racist organization, mean that we must recalibrate. That will mean reducing the size of the organization, restructuring operations, and focusing on core advocacy priorities. We will also focus on incorporating the principles of our transformation as Women Deliver evolves.
In the coming months we will launch an inclusive, global search for a new CEO and in the future hope to explore options for operating outside of North America. And we will continue to transform our advocacy by designing and implementing our strategy and programming in partnership with grassroots advocates around the world.
By recalibrating and evolving, Women Deliver will become a more equitable, inclusive, and global organization that is better able to deliver on our mission into the future.
Delivering on our commitments
Throughout this evolution, Women Deliver will honor our current commitments, maintain key priorities, deliver quality programs, and continue our strong advocacy for investments in girls and women. We will sustain the Young Leaders Program, engage in the Generation Equality Forum, continue our key advisory roles, plan the Women Deliver Conference, and see through our current commitments to Deliver for Good partners and Humanitarian Advocates.
There will be changes to our leadership and governance, and a core team will remain to lead this evolution into the future.
Reexamining our past
No matter the size, scope, or scale of Women Deliver, the organization will stay committed to the transformation to become an anti-racist organization. As part of that commitment, it is incumbent upon us to fill accountability gaps.
Several months ago, former and current Women Deliver employees spoke out on social media about having experienced a toxic work environment, and Black colleagues and colleagues of color explicitly described feeling tokenized, abused, and discriminated against during their time at Women Deliver.
These testimonies did not come from unknown people. They came from colleagues and advocates, from people whose hard work, skills, and passion helped build Women Deliver. And people whom we hurt. We apologize to those we have hurt, including current and former staff, Young Leaders and Alumni, and fellow advocates and partners around the world.
Women Deliver envisioned that the independent investigation would provide a chance to thoroughly understand the underlying causes of our problems, hold ourselves accountable, and take action moving forward. Women Deliver will now move further than the report through our work to become an anti-racist organization grounded in intersectional principles.
Our evolution and our transformation will shepherd in the Women Deliver of the future, which will be a more global organization that fully embodies principles of equity and inclusion.
Reimagining our future
Women Deliver is grateful to the dedicated and passionate staff, especially our BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ colleagues, for the time, energy, and effort that they have put into transforming Women Deliver. We also want to recognize and appreciate our Women Deliver for Change colleagues for their work to help us all live up to the principles of Women Deliver’s transformation.
We know that the coming period will be very difficult for all our staff, many of whom will be leaving the organization, so we ask our gender equality community to embrace these hard working, talented, and effective advocates as they too turn to their next chapter.
When Women Deliver started our transformation we said, “To fully deliver on our mission of health and rights for all girls and all women, we must and will reexamine our past and reimagine our future.” At this critical juncture, Women Deliver will create a stronger foundation on which to build that reimagined future.
We welcome continued advocacy, partnership, and support from our partners, funders, Young Leaders, and the girls and women we work for and with. Together Women Deliver can and will advance a gender-equal world for all.