RWANDA— Rwanda is hosting the Women Deliver Conference from the 17th to the 20th of this month, the world’s largest conference on gender equality and the health, rights, and well-being of girls and women in the 21st century.

The 4-day event is now the largest multi-sectoral convening to advance gender equality, with 6,000 people expected in person in Kigali and 200,000+ people registered to attend virtually.

WD2023 will enable inclusive and co-created spaces that foster solidarity for sustainable solutions to gender equality under the theme “Creating Spaces, Solidarity, and Solutions”.   

Women Deliver convenings will hopefully catalyze conversations with stakeholders from around the world.

Moreover, hopefully, seek out solutions to break barriers, address challenges, and identify opportunities to advance gender equality, including sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), to improve the health, rights, and well-being of girls and women.

Thousands of decision-makers from diverse fields, including civil society, government, the private sector, and international agencies, alongside women’s rights organizations and movements and youth-led groups.

All of these groups advocating and 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.

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.

Previous edition-WD2019 in Canada

The last Women Deliver Conference connected grassroots advocates and decision-makers fuelled over US$1B in global and country-level investments and shined a global spotlight on the importance of gender equality.

At the event, Joshua Tabah, Director General, Global Health & Nutrition, Global Affairs Canada, WD 2019 Chair, “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.”

Women Deliver and its 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 the impact and outcomes of the WD2019 Conference.

As a part of a US$ 4 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.

WD2023- a new dawn for gender equality

Dr. Maliha Khan, President and CEO of Women Deliver, made the remarks at an opening press briefing on the importance of free and open democracies globally to achieving gender equality. 

Dr. Khan added that the WD2023 Conference comes at a time when support for the health, rights, and well-being 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,” said Dr. Khan.  

Nevertheless, on the heels of the landmark Generation Equality Forum, 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 also launched 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.

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.

Some headline speakers at the conference include Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, American politician Stacey Abrahams, former first lady of South Africa Graça Macheland former Irish President Mary Robinson.

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