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Why Development Begins with Women

By: Melinda Gates; Originally posted by Impatient Optimists

One of the best parts of my job is the opportunity to talk to women and girls all over the world. As different as our lives may seem, I’m always struck by how much we share in common. At some level, all women, everywhere, have the same hopes: we want to be self-sufficient and create better lives for ourselves and our loved ones. And if we have children, we want them to have the brightest futures possible, full of the chances and opportunities they deserve.

For these reasons, women and girls are some of the development community’s most valuable allies. And that’s why, when I’m not in the field meeting with women and girls, I’m working to ensure that they are at the center of our development efforts. As I’ve told our partners all over the world, this isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing—because when women are empowered, they use that power to lift others up. They help everyone around them stand on their own two feet. Read more...

Not Just the New Fashion

By: Dr. Denise Raquel Dunning, Founder and Executive Director, Let Girls Lead, Champions for Change and Youth Champions Iniative; Originally posted by Impatient Optimists

‘Fashion week’ just ended for the global development community, when thousands of international leaders convened in New York for the UN General Assembly (UNGA). Presidents, ministers, donors, UN leaders, and CEOs celebrated the newest designs in global development: stylish poverty reduction plans, glamorous partnerships to prioritize girls’ education, and beautiful spokespeople for the latest hot issues like climate change and child trafficking. Read more...

Women Bearing the Brunt of the Ebola Crisis Must Be Central to the Solution

By: Katja Iversen, CEO, Women Deliver; Originally posted by The Huffington Post

Medical authorities worldwide are struggling to contain the deadly Ebola virus wherever it breaks out, but one reality in the countries most affected is not receiving adequate attention. The outbreak is affecting girls and women more than boys and men - those who are infected as well as those who are not. Read more...

Helping Women Through Clean Water and Sanitation

By Katja Iversen and Massimo Berruti; Originally posted by MSNBC

Katja Iversen is the CEO of Women Deliver

In the U.S., the average girl can pour herself a glass of clean water when she’s thirsty. She can walk to school on paved streets without sewage getting in her way. And, when she matures, she can easily purchase feminine hygiene products and use a private restroom at her convenience. Her period is a nuisance, but it does not disrupt her day – or her life.

This is not the reality for the world’s poorest girls and women. Basic necessities — safe water, sanitation and hygiene supplies — are scarce and often unavailable to girls and women living in poverty. These stark conditions jeopardize the health, education and well-being of girls and women in ways the average American cannot, and does not have to, imagine. Read more...

Understanding the Experience and Needs of the Target Population is Crucial to a Project’s Success

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

By: Chukwudera Bridget Okeke, Concern Women International Development Initiative (Nigeria)

In Nigeria, people speak many different languages, so it is important to cater to each target population’s language needs. For the implementation of the project, all presentations used for training workshops were translated into the Tiv dialect, as majority of the participants did not understand English. In addition, we have trained and deployed more Female Sex Workers (FSW) as peer-educators, since many are native Tiv speakers. This has allowed us to reach more people, including FSW and their clients who are not based in brothels. While we were initially concerned about this language barrier, our efforts seem to have overcome this challenge. Given the feedback we have received, it appears that more and more FSW are being reached by the project. An important lesson to be learned from this, however, is that understanding the local context is crucial to the success of a project. Read more…

Young Leader Nargis Shirazi Nominated for The Waislitz Global Citizen Award

Nargis Shirazi, one of Women Deliver’s Young Leaders, Founder of the Wo-man Foundation, and It Takes Two Campaign Project Manager, has been nominated for the Waislitz Global Citizen Award in recognition of her work to empower girls and women in Uganda by advancing their sexual and reproductive health and rights.

The Global Poverty Project, in partnership with Alex Waislitz, presents the award to shine a spotlight on the outstanding individuals who are working to improve the lives of people around the world. Individuals are nominated based on four key areas: embodiment of global citizenship; proven impact with a substantial record of making lasting change and creating opportunities for the world’s poor; innovation that brings new thinking to overcoming the challenges of ending poverty; and the potential to improve their work. Nargis was nominated for this inaugural award alongside David Auerberch from Washington DC and Anoop Jain and Swapnil Chartuvedi, both from India. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Education for All: What’s Advocacy Got to Do With It?

By: Emily Teitsworth; Originally posted by Global Campaign for Education, U.S Chapter

Emily Teitsworth is the Director of Programs at Let Girls Lead and Champions for Change

Why are we failing to deliver on the promise of educating girls? In rural areas in Nigeria, surveys have found that at the end of 3rd grade, only 6 percent of students are able to read a simple sentence. In Malawi, it is illegal for pregnant girls and young mothers to return to school. In Guatemala, only 10 percent of rural girls complete secondary education.

Educating girls has been shown to strengthen families, reduce maternal mortality, and break intergenerational cycles of poverty. A single year of secondary education can increase a girl’s potential income by up to 25 percent, and significantly reduce the likelihood that she will become pregnant young or die in childbirth (World Bank, 2012).  In spite of significant investment and political will going towards expanding girls’ access to education, the global development community has not yet achieved the transformative promise of a world where both girls and boys receive free, quality education. 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...

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...

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...

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