A new funding facility and a new campaign to close the gender nutrition gap among other issues marked the end of the Women Deliver conference of 2023 in Kigali, Rwanda.
The week saw 6300+ feminists, 100+ journalists and content creators, 600 scholar recipients, and 87 sponsors representing 170 countries convene in Kigali to advance gender equality and protect sexual and reproductive health and rights for girls and women, in all their diversity.
“When women and girls are supported with funding and the right resources, they have the potential to challenge harmful norms, push for institutional and legislative reforms, and transform their communities,” explained Dr. Maliha Khan, President and CEO of Women Deliver.
The financing by the Open Society Foundations is meant to counter the anti-rights movement and provide financial investment into the most neglected sexual health and reproductive areas. “Over the last five days, we have had a meaningful discourse on what we need to do for women and girls globally. We must now act to secure their bodily autonomy and sexual and reproductive health and rights,” said Sumaiya Islam, Action Division Director of Intersectional Justice at Open Society Foundations.
Sumaiya said WD2023 has reminded “us not only of the barriers but also the achievements that have been made. I hope everyone walks away from the conference carrying this sense of achievement and hope based on the commitments that have been made.”
The nutrition campaign on the other hand was launched by over 40 organizations, alongside a co-created Action Agenda that calls for transformative actions from governments to improve women’s and girls’ nutrition.
“This campaign will highlight the stark – and growing – inequalities in nutrition for women and girls worldwide who are twice as likely to suffer from malnutrition as men and boys. The Closing the Gender Nutrition Gap: an Action Agenda for Women and Girls has a clear call to action for actors, including what governments must do to close the gap, both in terms of quick wins and the systemic gender transformative actions needed to improve women and girls’ nutrition.” – Deborah Ash, Director Women’s Nutrition, FHI 360.
Further, there was a RESPECT Women website, an online platform launch that aims to drive concrete actions to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls, launched by The World Health Organization (WHO), together with UN Women, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the United Nations Development Programme.
“Violence against women and girls remains a crisis for rights and health for millions of women and girls around the world, governments need to ‘walk the talk’ in investing in evidence-based resources for violence prevention and response while advancing gender equality. This new platform aims to support this process.” – Dr. Pascale Allotey, Director of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research at WHO, and head of the UN Special Programme on Human Reproduction (HRP).
The Kigali Call to Action: United for Women and Girls’ Bodily Autonomy announced by the UNFPA to accelerate investments and actions, with women-led organizations and the feminist movement at the center.
“Bodily autonomy is non-negotiable. It is about choices, rights, and the power of women and girls to decide over their own bodies. UNFPA is calling for coordinated and collective action to achieve bodily autonomy, reproductive rights, and gender equality well in time for 2030.” – Natalia Kanem, UNFPA Executive Director.
In closing, Dr. Khan emphasized: “There is still so much work to do, there are so many issues to address, and there are so many barriers still in the way of women and girls achieving their full potential. The only way to achieve our objectives is through collective efforts. We hope that Women Deliver has planted the seed to strengthen our solidarity and unity now, and long into the future.”