"In a gender equal world, everybody wins"
New knowledge and solutions to achieve a more gender equal world are at the center of the Women Deliver 2019 Conference (WD2019) taking place 3-6 June 2019 in Vancouver, Canada. It is the world’s largest conference on gender equality and on the health and rights of girls and women. A wide range of participants from governments, parliamentarians, private sector, non-governmental organisations, the United Nations, young people, journalists and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation are exchanging their experience in order to strengthen gender equality around the world. Katja Iversen, President/CEO of Women Deliver, explains why this is important for sustainable development. SDC supports Women Deliver’s activities, including the conference
Katja Iversen, does the world need another conference on gender equality?
Let’s take a look at the world today:
Every two minutes, a woman somewhere in the world dies during pregnancy or in childbirth;
One in three women will experience sexual violence in her lifetime;
Only 29% of countries have achieved gender parity at the upper secondary education level;
214 million women don’t have access to modern contraception and can’t decide if and when to have children or how many to have;
Women are underrepresented in almost all aspects of power – board rooms, parliaments, governments;
only about 11% of countries have a female head of state or head of government, and globally, only 4% of CEOs are women.
It doesn’t have to be this way, and it should not be this way.
Investing in girls and women is not only the right thing to do from a perspective of human rights perspective, it is also the smart thing to do from the economic point of view. When we invest in girls and women, the world becomes healthier, wealthier, more equitable, peaceful and productive.
That's why the Women Deliver 2019 Conference will be much more than what will happen within the walls of the Vancouver Convention Center from 3-6 June. It is creating a global dialogue and fueling our global movement to advance gender equality at all levels and in all corners of the world.
How important is the support from Switzerland, through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation?
Through the support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Women Deliver will be able to influence policies and investments for gender equality and girls’ and women’s health and rights, including their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). We will also have the opportunity to generate research and to fine tune our advocacy tools. While advocacy is an incremental process, often slow and measured, evidence make a cogent and compelling case for investment. It is also important to know what approaches are most effective and shine a light on them. Through this support Women Deliver will build a solid foundation for action that is sustained by all relevant levels of governments and all relevant sectors.
Gender equality is increasingly recognized as fundamental to achieving a world free of poverty. Evidence from around the world confirms that investing in girls and women creates a ripple effect that yields multiple benefits – not only for individual women, but for families, communities, and countries. Gender equality is also a key to inclusive economic growth and essential to achieving the 2030 Agenda goals. The signing of the 2030 Agenda was a turning point as the world shifted and paid political attention to girls and women. 193 countries, including Switzerland, pledged to end gender inequality in all forms by 2030. Switzerland and the world have pledged to tackle not just the systems, but the underlying drivers of inequality. And that includes inequality everywhere, including at home.
While there is a growing body of evidence, it is widely acknowledged that advocacy for gender equality to improve the health, rights, and wellbeing of girls and women is hindered by a lack of data, as well as from poorly managed data. There is even less data on girls and women in fragile and humanitarian settings. It is challenging to persuade decision-makers to act on the issues without sufficient evidence of the extent of the problem, and its impact on girls and women.
The conference only takes place every three years. How will it actually contribute to achieve gender equality?
The Women Deliver 2019 Conference will showcase shifting power dynamics: the conference will demonstrate meaningful youth engagement, intersectionality, working across silos, and bringing together people across generations, geographies, and sectors. We will welcome grassroots advocates and CEOs to the same stage, shine the spotlight on heads of state and emerging leaders alike, and hand the microphone to familiar and unexpected voices.
To demonstrate the power of gender equality, every facet of WD2019 will spotlight research, case studies, solutions, and testimonials that show how in a gender equal world, everybody wins. And to walk the talk in catalysing investment in women-focused organisations and SRHR, WD2019 programming is co-created by more than 150 organisations and is supporting travel and/or registration to more than 1,000 people from across the globe. WD2019 will connect these delegates to the people, resources, ideas, and inspiration that will fuel their future work.
But Women Deliver isn’t working towards this aspirational vision alone. With close to 9,000 people and more than 2,700 organisations represented onsite, as well as more than 100,000 people engaging in a global dialogue around the world, WD2019 will be successful because of all the dedicated people across geographies, sectors, and generations committed to this work.
Together we will connect advocates and decision makers, fuel global and country-level actions, and influence the global agenda as it relates to gender equality. And together we also hope to inspire the world to harness power for good; demonstrate the power of gender equality; and catalyze investment in women-focused organisations and SRHR.
Katja Iversen is the President/CEO of Women Deliver – a leading global advocate for investment in gender equality and the health and rights of girls and women, with a specific focus on maternal, sexual and reproductive health and rights. Iversen, an internationally recognized expert on development, advocacy and communications, has more than 25 years of experience working in NGOs, corporates and United Nation agencies. Previously, she held the position as Chief of Strategic Communication and Public Advocacy with UNICEF, a position she came to after almost six years of leading the team responsible for advocacy and communication on reproductive health with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). She holds a master’s degree in communications, bachelor's degree in public administration and certificates in management, conflict resolution, and international development. Iversen has worked in global development for more than 20 years and has an extensive network within the UN, development communities, and global media. She has counseled and trained multiple Fortune 500 executives on cross cultural management and cross cultural communication. She is a member of President Macron’s G7 Gender Equality Advisory Council, the Unilever Sustainability Advisory Council, the MIT Women & Technology Solve Leadership Group, and an International Gender Champion. Iversen, named Dane of the Year in 2018, in one of the top 10 from 100 Apolitical’s Most Influential People in Gender Policy. She is also a sought lecturer and speaker.