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Women Deliver more than Babies

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YWCA members and Julia Gillard, Former Prime Minister of Australia

Women Deliver’s 4th Global Conference, is taking place 16-19 May 2016 in Copenhagen. It is the largest gathering on girls’ and women’s health and rights in a decade and one of the first major global conferences following the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The World YWCA has a delegation consisting of World YWCA General Secretary, Staff and young women from the YWCA global movement including India, Australia, Denmark, Haiti, Malawi and Scotland. The conference is hosting 5543 delegates from 165 countries and 2500 different organizations. The live streaming has 1 billion viewers registered from across the world. 

Bringing together world leaders, advocates, policymakers, journalists, young people, researchers, and leaders of corporate companies and civil society, the conference is focusing on how to implement the SDGs so they matter most for girls and women. The World YWCA sits on the Women Deliver Advisory Committee and the Youth Working Group that planned the programme of the conference and facilitated various sessions including the two-day youth pre-conference forum. The forum brought together 500 young people from across the globe to share their experiences and build skills in the areas of maternal health and sexual reproductive health and rights.

The World YWCA partnered with the Global Partnership for Education and Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in a side event on Empowering women and girls through health and education. Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanada, World YWCA General Secretary spoke about the importance to end child marriage and keep girls in education. Evidence shows better education leads to improved health for girls and women, reducing vulnerability to unintended pregnancies and HIV, and yielding independent women able to make informed choices. Linking health and education offers opportunities for transformational progress. The SDGs will require an integrated approach, with coordinated systems, programs and financing, and strong partnerships.

During Women Deliver there are several concurrent sessions addressing key issues. The World YWCA is hosting the sessions on Women Leading Change in Parliaments. Creating and driving change as a parliamentarian may be hindered by a range of factors. For women parliamentarians driving change within the field of Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) and gender equality, a lack of mentorship and support, internal power structures and hierarchies, informal networks, public image and a scarcity mind-set which prevents women to support each other, may all play a role in preventing women parliamentarians to effectively drive change. Restricted access to funding for areas that are perceived as “women’s issues” is another barrier for carrying out true transformative change. Change also comes in different stages and may require different strategies at different points in time. This means that needs differ and are not always easily identifiable.

Throughout, the three days the World YWCA has held a ‘Safe Space #Egumeni Hub’ for young women and girls to network, share experienced and participate in workshops. The space proved to be very popular and received several high level visitors including Julia Gillard, Former Prime Minister of Australia, Princess Mabel of Orange- Nassau (Netherlands), Maya Harper, Head of Gender Unit – UNAIDS and Joanna Herat, UNESCO.

Women Deliver 2016 comes to a close today after three days of powerful storytelling and sharing of strategies and ideas to improve women and girls health and lives as a whole.

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