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Copenhagen Announced as the Official Location of the Women Deliver 2016 Global Conference

Denmark highlights commitment to girls and women with conference announcement and launch of a new gender framework

COPENHAGEN, Denmark, 18 August 2014 – Today, with 500 days left until the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) deadline, advocacy organization Women Deliver and the Danish Minister for Trade and Development Corporation, Mogens Jensen, announced that the next Women Deliver global conference  will be held in Copenhagen, Denmark, in May 2016. The announcement was made at the Invest in Girls and Women – Everybody Wins event held at the Danish Parliament, where Denmark’s new Strategic Framework for Gender Equality, Rights and Diversity was also launched.

“We are beyond thrilled that the Women Deliver 2016 Conference will be in Copenhagen,” said Women Deliver President Jill Sheffield. “The Danish government has played a key role in advancing girls’ and women’s health and rights and, with its support, this conference could catapult these issues to the forefront of the global development agenda and unify advocates from all around the world around one simple ask: Invest in girls and women – it pays.” Read more...

Fueling the Movement to Invest in Girls and Women

By: Rahim Kanani; Originally posted by Thomson Reuters

There are only 500 days left to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals. How do we accelerate progress for girls and women, and where do we go after 2015? In an in-depth interview with Women Deliver’s new CEO, Katja Iversen, we discussed the founding, evolution and impact of the organization to date, her vision for the future, and much more.

Rahim Kanani: Before I get to your new role as CEO, let's talk about how Women Deliver has evolved over the years. How did it start, and what have been some of the milestone initiatives or efforts to date?

Katja Iversen: It all started with a really powerful message: Invest in Women – It pays. At the time, there was a recognition that there was a profound need to start talking about maternal and reproductive health differently, and to start doing things differently in order to not only preach to the choir, but to reach those people who could make change happen faster. When you think about who can do that – we all realized that we couldn’t just talk about health and rights, but that we had to start thinking about and communicate with the people who held the purse strings. We had to talk to the hearts and minds of the people who held the money! Read more...

Giving Young People a Fighting Chance

These seed grants were funded by Johnson & Johnson and WomanCare Global via the Women Deliver C Exchange Youth Initiative.

By: Yemurai Nyoni, Bulawayo Youth Development Organization (Zimbabwe)

I grew up under difficult circumstances. My three siblings and I were raised by a single mother, my brothers taunted me constantly and I bore witness to the vulnerability of my little sister. From these experiences, I learned how to stand up for and defend myself and speak out against injustices endured by others. I became a firm believer in progressive alternatives to restrictive societal norms, especially those that limit opportunity and equality for women. 

In my home country of Zimbabwe, child marriage is a particularly egregious problem. 1 in 3 girls are married before 18 years of age, and 90 percent of adolescent pregnancies occur among girls who are married or in unions. Taking girls from their families threatens their health and educational development and violates their rights as outlined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Read more...

Girls and Women Need Access to Education and #SRHR to Become Fully Empowered

New impact evaluation (IE) briefs released by the World Bank Group (WBG) highlight the best global strategies to empower girls and women in the world today. Published on August 11th in anticipation of International Youth Day on August 12th, the briefs shed light on interventions tackling current social issues young people, especially girls and young women, face, and showcase what works best to empower them.

The IEs support WBG’s twin corporate goals that aim to educate, empower and employ today’s generation of young people, the largest ever in decades. The briefs, also accessible through enGENDER IMPACT,   echo multiple approaches and strategies in addressing three critical social issues: ensuring access to education, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and ending child marriages.

According to the WBG, the IEs take a deeper independent analysis of each of these social issues, giving recommendations on what works best in all the intervention areas. Below are excerpts from the IEs: Read more...

Now Is the Time to Include the Voices of Young People

By: Mallah Tabot, United Vision (Cameroon)

I’m demanding young people’s access to sexual and reproductive health and rights in the post-2015 agenda because we can’t wait afford to wait any longer. In 2014, it is a shame that young people have limited or no control over their sexual health. It is a shame that SRHR services are still managed as a luxury item for the 99%, while basic education on sexual health and rights don’t have a place in our educational system. And, why should the decision to have or not have a child be left in the hands of fate or chance or luck instead of choice?

Working in a small rural community in southwest Cameroon, I have seen the stark realities of the lack of education and access to SRHR by young people. My interaction with the small village of Eshobi has exposed me to horrific realities of girls and women’s health - the conditions under which thousands of young girls are forced to live in - because SRHR and comprehensive sexuality education in our educational system is not a priority for our politicians. Read more...

Too Frequently, Too Many, Too Young: Preventing Adolescent Girls Mortality

By: Felogene Anumo, FEMNET

On 11th August 2014, my beautiful daughter, Zhane Lindiwe, turns exactly 11 months old. Needless to say, she is a huge blessing in my life. However, as I thank God each and every morning for her, I am cognizant of the fact that every day many young women and girls find themselves carrying a pregnancy that they neither planned nor hoped for. This may result in feelings of regret, hopelessness, and loss of opportunities. But worse still, is the high number of young women and girls who die while looking for a way out of their situation by seeking an unsafe abortion. Other brave girls, despite the negative feelings associated with an unwanted pregnancy, forge ahead for nine months only to lose their lives during childbirth since their bodies are not ready for parenthood. Read more...

Q&A Interview with Influential Jamaican Midwife Victoria Melhado

Originally posted by the Maternal Health Task Force

This post is part of our “Supporting the Human in Human Resources” blog series co-hosted by the Maternal Health Task Force and Jacaranda Health.

Katja Iversen is the CEO of Women Deliver, a global advocacy organization that brings together diverse voices and interests to share solutions and drive progress in maternal and sexual and reproductive health and rights. Women Deliver builds capacity and forges partnerships – together creating networks, messages and action that spark political commitment and investment in the health, rights, and well-being of girls and women.

Victoria Melhado is a Jamaican advocate, midwife, and one of Women Deliver’s Young Leaders. Victoria is an active member of several committees, including the Nurses Association of Jamaica, and is the youngest winner of the prestigious National Nurse of the Year award. Ms. Melhado is also a member of the National Youth Month Planning Committee and is the author of ‘Be Inspired!’, a book of inspirational poems. Read more...

We Asked, And You Delivered: Inspiring Actions #SinceWD2013

By: Jill Sheffield and Katja Iversen, Women Deliver 

As the Women Deliver 2013 Conference came to a close last May, we called on our participants to take one great idea they heard during our conference and turn that idea into an inspired action. By making this ask, we hoped each and every attendee – policymakers, activists, media and young people alike – would transform their experiences into concrete actions at home. And they did.

This spring, we followed up with conference participants to find out what’s been keeping them busy #SinceWD20123, and how our conference has inspired their work. We were blown away by the responses from partners in countries from around the globe  – all dedicated to improving the lives of girls and women. Some of the most inspiring developments brought about by Women Deliver 2013 include: Read more...

2016 Conference

Girls and Women Won’t Be Left Behind

These seed grants were funded by Johnson & Johnson and WomanCare Global via the Women Deliver C Exchange Youth Initiative.

By: Cecilia Garcia Ruiz, Espolea (Mexico)

My dream is to live in a world where people’s age, gender, ethnicity, health, marital status or sexual orientation does not prevent them from exercising their rights. I would like to see societies where girls and women have a say in the collective decisions of their communities and countries, but most importantly, in the choices concerning their lives, their sexuality and their reproduction. Shaping the future we want requires urgent action at local and international levels.

Today, the world has the biggest youth population in history. In Mexico, 32% of the population is young (approximately 38 million)  – half of whom are women. Despite these numbers, young people have limited opportunities to contribute to development. Billions of young people around the world – and millions within in my country – have the potential to shift the prevailing paradigm if we act now. Read more...

 

When You Invest In Girls and Women, Everybody Wins

By: Katja Iversen; Originally posted by Huffington Post

Katja Iversen is the CEO of Women Deliver

After she got married, she had to drop out of 7th grade.

This is the beginning of a story I heard at the +SocialGood event last month from Miriam Enerstrida, a young woman who escaped child marriage in Zambia. When she was in 7th grade, Miriam was sold into marriage. Her husband's family kept her in their basement, naked, so she could not run away. When she asked about going back to school, she said she was beaten and they made her repeat the phrase "school is for boys and not for the girl child."

I'm sure just by reading this you can tell what is wrong here. Although marriage below the age of 18 is not permitted in most countries, social norms and discriminatory laws often allow the practice to continue even where laws are on the books. Every day, 39,000 girls under the age of 18 will be forced into early marriage. One in seven girls living in developing countries is married before her 15th birthday.

The real question is: Why?

Child marriage is not only wrong from a legal and human rights perspective, but also from a broader economic and developmental perspective. When girls are married young, they are more likely to drop out of school; more likely to acquire HIV and other sexually-transmitted infections; and more likely to live their lives in poverty - a poverty that often is passed on to their children. Read more...

Evaluating Women Deliver: A Look Back and a Plan for the Future

By: Jill Sheffield and Katja Iversen, Women Deliver

With the 2015 Millennium Development Goal (MDG) deadline rapidly approaching, the global community is taking stock of the tremendous progress we’ve made toward improving girls’ and women’s lives around the world and the challenges that remain. At Women Deliver, we too are taking advantage of this opportunity to reflect on what we’ve achieved and how we can do better to make a real and lasting impact for girls and women everywhere. 

Earlier this year, Women Deliver underwent an external, independent impact evaluation to 1) determine Women Deliver’s contributions to increasing visibility and awareness around girls’ and women’s health, and 2) inform a new strategic plan that will guide Women Deliver’s future programs. Our evaluators conducted a materials review, a media analysis, a survey of over 500 Women Deliver supporters, and interviews with almost 100 staff, board members and influential stakeholders in our field.

We are thankful to everyone who participated in this incredibly valuable project. We could not be more thrilled with the outcomes, and we are happy to share some of the findings. Read more...

Women Deliver Announces ‘Dr. Fred Sai Scholarship for Young African Women’

ACCRA, Ghana, June 30, 2014 – Women Deliver is proud to announce a new scholarship program that will help bring young African women to its triennial conferences, beginning with Women Deliver 2016. 

Every three years, the Dr. Fred Sai Scholarship for Young African Women – named in honor of Ghanaian sexual and reproductive health and rights advocate and Women Deliver Board Member Emeritus Dr. Fred Sai – will be given to five African women under the age of 30 who have shown extraordinary leadership on sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Scholarship winners will be selected through a competitive online application process. Women Deliver will look for young women who are passionate about improving the health and well-being of girls and women; who can contribute meaningfully to conference sessions and discussions; and who will strive to incorporate lessons learned to work in their home countries. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Creating Education Opportunities for Girls in South Sudan

By: Sara Pellegrom, Women Deliver

Despite the recent atrocities in Sudan and South Sudan over the last two decades, the VAD Foundation and the Marial Bai Secondary School (MBSS) have only become more committed to their mission of educating Sudanese young people, particularly girls.

Between 1983 and 2005, the turmoil of the civil war in Sudan killed two and a half million people and displaced nearly six million more. South Sudan gained independence in 2011, but faced a new wave of violence in December 2013. Due to this resurgence of fighting, many government agencies, aid organizations, and international companies have left the country for security reasons. Read more...

Q&A with Katja Iversen About Her Vision for the Future

In this Q&A, Women Deliver’s new CEO Katja Iversen shares her motivations for becoming an advocate for girls’ and women’s health and rights; discusses lessons she has learned in her career; offers advice for emerging advocates; and describes her vision for the future for girls and women around the world.

Q: What first inspired you to become a maternal and reproductive health advocate?

I’m proud to say it was my grandmother. Back in the 1930s she – in her own quiet and behind-the-scenes way – fought fiercely for girls’ and women’s reproductive rights in Denmark, where I am from. At the time, only married women could get access to modern contraceptives.  She and my granddad lived together without being married, and she worked seven days a week to get him through college, so getting pregnant just wasn’t an option. Even when she got married and had kids, she kept up the fight for all women’s reproductive rights – because it was just the right thing to do. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Update from Nigeria

By: Tyler LePard, Catapult

This report is from The Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND), a beneficiary of the Support Girls’ Education project funded by Catapult. Their team travelled to Maiduguri, Borno State, from May 13-18, 2014, to assess what the communities in the region need following the abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls in Nigeria.

Now that they’re safely back from their mission to Borno State, we’re able to share the name of our partner organization, KIND.

It was a difficult and dangerous trip. The team overcame harassment at the many security check-points and witnessed the physical devastation in multiple areas. Working closely with a local organization and a leading advocate for women in the region, they met with a girl who escaped from her Boko Haram kidnappers, women survivors of violence, families of kidnapped girls, school leaders, and government officials.

KIND provided us with an incredibly powerful and authentic update, documenting the reality on the ground in Borno State. It’s long and detailed, and clearly identifies the needs in the area. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Tackling Menstruation Through Community Economic Empowerment

By: Rehema Namukose

Menstruation—the mere mention of that word to some people in my country, Uganda, will make them squirm and feel disgusted. Others consider it a private issue not worthy of discussion in public around men. These sentiments have contributed to the many factors that have hindered girls from freely attending school during such times of the month.

In some Nepalese and Bangladesh communities, people still practice backward taboos that depict menstruating girls as outcasts who are deemed unfit to live with others. They are not allowed to be in contact with anyone because they are viewed as cursed, and many such taboos are fueled by poverty. When a girl or woman cannot afford sanitary health care during this period, she will be viewed as dirty, shameful to the family, and to the community as a whole. This is why many girls' low rates of attendance of school have been linked to menstruation. Read more...

Women Deliver Welcomes Two New Board Members

Women Deliver, a global advocacy organization dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of girls and women, is pleased to announce the election of two new board members, effective immediately: Dr. Jotham Musinguzi, Regional Director of Partners in Population and Development’s Africa Regional Office, and Dr. Peter Cairo, a consultant who spent 20 years as a full-time faculty member at Columbia University and specializes in the areas of leadership development, executive coaching, and executive team effectiveness.

“We are excited and absolutely privileged to have Dr. Jotham Musinguzi and Dr. Peter Cairo join the Women Deliver Board of Directors,” said Jill Sheffield, President of Women Deliver. “They each bring a distinct outlook along with years of expertise in their respective fields. Their passion and commitment to our set of issues will be a great resource for Women Deliver as we move forward.” Read more...

#SinceWD2013: Share Your Progress With Us

By: Jill Sheffield and Katja Iversen

It has already been one year since the extraordinary 2013 Women Deliver global conference took place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The three day event brought together 4,500 key stakeholders from approximately 150 countries to focus on the most pressing issues affecting girls’ and women’s health and rights. During this one year anniversary, we want you to share with us: what is the one thing you have done - or done differently - to advance the health and rights of girls and women in your country over the last year? Read more...

New World Bank Report Calls for More Action to Achieve Equality of Girls and Women

A new report released by the World Bank, entitled “Voice and Agency: Empowering Women and Girls for Shared Prosperity” presents new evidence about the key constraints withholding girls and women worldwide from achieving their full potential to benefit their families and communities.

One critical highlighted point is that girls’ access to education plays an essential role in shaping their future and enhancing their ability to implement decisions and choices, even when gender norms are limiting. The report reveals that girls with no access to education are six times more likely to get married as children, causing them to live in extreme poverty and denying them a voice at household level. This contributes to prevalent  levels of gender-based violence—one of the key constraints listed in the report. Read more...

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