By Gitonga Njeru in Vancouver
The Women Deliver Conference opened Tuesday in the coastal seaport city of Vancouver. The conference brings the largest gathering of women leaders from around the world specializing in different professional fields.
Over 3,000 delegates have converged in one of North Americas most cosmopolitans’ cities to discuss issues and challenges facing women globally.
The largest gathering of women leaders in recent times in this Canadian city of more than two million inhabitants brings together feminists, gender activists and policymakers.
Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta is among the world leaders attending. The event takes place at a time when Kenya has been experiencing increased cases of gender-based violence and femicides.
The event has also brought some of the leading health experts in the world. Some of the major topics of discussion are access to healthcare by women.
“We need to come up with concrete solutions that give women strength to make independent sexual decisions such as in reproductive health,” said Melinda Gates of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is actively funding research projects around the world on such issues. “I am glad to say that some novel ideas have become a reality and in full-scale commercial use,” she said adding that condoms may soon be a thing of the past as they are quickly being replaced by vaginal lubricating gels.
Condoms are so effective not just in preventing pregnancy, but also in preventing HIV AIDS infection. Some studies have shown that some gels available in international markets are 85 per cent effective in HIV prevention and other sexually transmitted infection transmissions. “So, the global programs we fund different organizations are paying off”, said Melinda Gates in an interview.
She said over 1.3 million women globally have benefitted from such services.
“We will be increasing funds through the years for a lot of research in health and women will be great beneficiaries. We encourage scientists to submit abstracts and proposals that can potentially receive funding and make a difference to communities”, Melinda added.
The gels have been known to be applied to condoms to avoid breakage or to a partner’s penis just before intercourse.
HIV activists are worried over the high incidences of gender-based violence cases especially rape. The Executive Director of United Nations Women raised the serious concern of increasing rape cases in the African continent.
“Rape should never be justified at any means. The rights of women and also men should be respected. HIV infections can be avoided if men and women work together in harmony. As an organization, we are particularly worried about new HIV infections among children who are raped. It is a worrying trend globally. Thousands of children globally are suffering in silence”, said Phumzile Mlambo, the Executive Director of UN Women in a separate interview.
“Many new HIV infections can be avoided if more attention is given to vulnerable groups, especially women and children”, she added.
Almost all professionals are attending the global even set to end in the sixth of June.