Women Deliver Founder and President Jill Sheffield was selected as one of the 2014 21 Leaders for the 21st Century by Women’s eNews, an award-winning nonprofit news service covering issues of particular concern to women and providing women's perspectives on public policy. The list honors outstanding leaders that are committed to improving the lives of girls and women, each one insisting on equality and justice for women and girls. Sheffield was presented with an award for her life-long commitment to enabling women to plan their fertility and making childbirth safe. This year’s group includes leaders who are working globally and locally to ensure that women's rights are human rights.
The 2014 Women's eNews 21 Leaders for the 21st Century was celebrated at the 12th annual gala on May 6, 2014 at the Marriott Essex House in New York City. Honorees were grouped into three categories, those who “Speak Across Our Generations,” “Amplify Our Power,” and Sheffield’s category of those who “Carry Our Health Forward.”
“I am incredibly honored to be recognized alongside these amazing leaders who are working to advance the health and rights of girls and women,” said Sheffield. “We know that putting girls and women at the heart of the development agenda is a game changer and I look forward to seeing what this, and the next, group of leaders will do to improve the lives of girls and women worldwide.”
Sheffield has been committed to providing women with the power to choose if and when to have children since she was in her late 20s and living in Kenya. While working at a family planning clinic in Nairobi, she met many women who could not afford contraceptive care or were not permitted to use birth control by their spouses. One woman, a 27-year-old who had six living children from her 11 pregnancies, particularly inspired Sheffield’s efforts to advance the reproductive health and rights of girls and women around the world.
In 1987, Sheffield founded Family Care International, the organization that initiated the Safe Motherhood Initiative. After 20 successful years there, she created Women Deliver in 2007. For over four decades, Sheffield has shown exceptional dedication to the progress of maternal, sexual, and reproductive health and rights.
Joining Sheffield on the list are other advocates for the equality of girls and women, Carmen Barroso and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. Before becoming the Regional Director of International Planned Parenthood Federation-Western Hemisphere Region in 2003, Barroso was the first non-American woman to be appointed director of a major U.S. foundation when she became director of the MacArthur Foundation's Population and Reproductive Health program in 1991. Mlambo-Ngcuka became interested in politics in South Africa in the 1990s, joining South Africa's first democratic parliament in 1994. In 2005, she became the first woman to act as deputy president of South Africa, a title she held until 2008. In 2013, she was sworn in as Executive Director of UN Women.
Last night's gala also marked the official launch of Women’s eNews' new initiative Teen Voices that will train and pay teen reporters to create original content and amplify girls’ voices from across the world. Women’s eNews also unveiled a new teen-designed logo and introduced international partner programs.
To see a full list of the 21 Leaders, click here.