Nearly 6,000 health experts, women’s rights advocates, government and private sector stakeholders from around the world gathered this week in Copenhagen to talk about — in the words of Women Deliver CEO Katja Iverson — "not if, not why, but how" the global development community can deliver for women and girls.
Flash mobs, attention grabbing displays of activism and demonstrations of innovations such as the Path-designed NIFTY infant feeding cup took place throughout the week at the fourth Women Deliver conference, the largest gathering on girls' and women's health and rights in the past decade.
Twenty-one percent of attendees were youth, and 23 percent were men. Unsurprisingly, talks at the conference revolved around inclusion — of youth in general but also of men and boys in conversations about everything from gender based violence to contraceptive access.
Crown Princess Mary of Denmark opened the week by stating that when it comes to addressing issues such as child marriage or female genital mutilation, “less bad is never good enough,” a pervasive sentiment throughout the overwhelming number of topics discussed in Copenhagen.
Devex spoke with U.N. secretary-general candidate and U.N. Development Program Administrator Helen Clark about gender parity within the U.N. system, chatted with Plan International CEO Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen on why it’s crucial to give data “soul” and conducted many video interviews with health experts and youth activists. One standout following those interviews was that the fundamental building blocks of a successful partnership to lift women and girls sound very similar to those of inclusive program design — listening, realizing your own potential biases and addressing those in future iterations.
The summit also saw some major announcements, including Canadian International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau's launch of the country's public consultations on foreign aid, which Bibeau said should reinforce Canada's commitment to putting women and girls at the center of its international assistance. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced an $80 million commitment to close the gender data gap, while the EU pledged 19 million euros ($21.3 million) in support of gender-driven international projects. And Plan International, along with several partners, announced a data and research initiative to press for action on global promises of equality — to name just a few.
Look out for more Women Deliver coverage in the coming weeks.
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