Beyond #SheBuilds: A campaign ends but its cause remains

Women in Accra, Ghana. Photo by: C.C. Chapman / CC BY-NC-ND

One month ago, on International Women’s Day, Devex launched She Builds, a campaign to advance the cause of women and girls around the globe. And while #SheBuilds officially ended this week, the cause remains — and the international community appears more determined than ever to take it up.

Over the past five weeks, we heard from women changemakers around the world who are building a better future for all of us. We heard about ways to empower women and girls by providing them with health care, education and jobs and by expanding opportunities for them to lead. We heard about successful initiatives that engage women in activities from policy making to peace building, from teaching to keeping communities safe.

And we showcased ways all of us can make a difference — something that’s particularly important to us and our campaign partners Chemonics, Creative Associates, JBS International as well as the Millennium Challenge Corp., U.K. Department for International Development and United Nations Office for Project Services.

She Builds: Innovative solutions and thought leadership at the intersection of women and development

We’ve heard how foreign aid donors like UNOPS and MCC are mainstreaming gender issues internally and within the projects they support, and shared three tips by Susanna Mudge, the president and CEO of Chemonics, for organizations eager to do the same.

We've learned how JBS empowers tribal women through innovation, and how Creative engages women to advance peace, safety and security in fragile states.

We’ve heard bold commitments from Fernando Frutuoso de Melo, the EuropeAid director general, and Justine Greening, the U.K. secretary of state for international development, to push gender equality and empower women and girls around the world.

The United Kingdom recently took a major step in that direction by passing legislation to ensure that all of the country’s relief and development efforts take gender issues into account — a landmark achievement for a country that has made the elimination of female genital mutilation and early and forced marriage a central pillar of its international cooperation. Prime Minister David Cameron will host an international summit in London this July to galvanize global efforts on what Greening, in an exclusive guest commentary for She Builds, called two “neglected issues.”

She Builds also featured commentary by U.N. Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, former Haitian Prime Minister Gary Conille and Melanne Verveer, the former U.S. ambassador-at-large for global women's issues, among many others.

People from all over the world shared their advice and their stories on how to empower women and girls. #SheBuilds reached millions of people via social media. On Twitter alone, we counted more than 4,500 contributors, including Melinda Gates, the South African Nobel Peace Prize honoree Desmond Tutu and the Hollywood actresses and humanitarians Debra Messing and Ashley Judd.

The United Nations and several of its agencies — including U.N. Women and UNOPS — joined the conversation, as did lawmakers in the United States and elsewhere, companies like Coca-Cola, nonprofits like Oxfam, CARE, Women Deliver and the ONE Campaign, and initiatives like The Girl Effect, Girls Not Brides, Girl Rising and Girl Up. In the name of our She Builds partners, I’d like to thank everyone who contributed — your efforts to empower women and girls around the globe inspire us all.

As we gear up for next year’s 20th anniversary of the historic Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and as world leaders negotiate a global framework to succeed the Millennium Development Goals, which expire at the end of 2015, let’s renew and expand our efforts to advocate for women and girls. Let’s set the stage for Beijing+20 and for a world where women and girls are empowered and thrive.

Want to learn more? Check out She Builds and tweet us using #SheBuilds.

She Builds is a month-long conversation hosted by Devex in partnership with Chemonics, Creative Associates, JBS International as well as the Millennium Challenge Corp., United Nations Office for Project Services and the U.K. Department for International Development.

About the author

  • Rolf Rosenkranz

    Rolf Rosenkranz oversees a talented team of in-house journalists, correspondents and guest contributors located around the globe. Since joining Devex in early 2008, Rolf has been instrumental in growing its fledgling news operation into the leading online source for global development news and analysis. Previously, Rolf was managing editor at Inside Health Policy, a subscription-based news service in Washington. He has reported from Africa for the Johannesburg-based Star and its publisher, Independent News & Media, as well as the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, a German daily.