Reflection: Navigating Women Deliver Through The Eyes of Our Director
Posted: August 15. 2023
I recently had the privilege of attending the Women Deliver 2023 conference in Kigali, Rwanda, and it was truly an unforgettable experience. The conference brought together activists, policymakers, healthcare professionals, and other stakeholders from around the world to discuss issues related to gender equality and women’s rights. This was not only my first time attending Women Deliver, but also my first time visiting the African continent!
To start off the conference, I had the honor of co-hosting an official Women Deliver pre-conference event, Catalyzing Global Action to End FGM/C. This pre-conference brought over 100 survivors and activists from around the world with one common goal: end FGM/C globally. This event was the first time I met many of our incredible members and partners in-person, as well as meeting new faces and making new lasting connections.
Throughout the conference, I was pleasantly surprised to see so many side events, concurrent sessions, and networking events focused on the topic of FGM/C. At times there were multiple running at the same time, making it impossible to attend them all. In reflecting with some of my fellow colleagues and activists, this is a stark difference from previous Women Deliver conferences where there were very few opportunities to connect around this important topic. In addition, most of these events were filled at or above capacity. What this observation tells me is that there is a greater need for spaces and connection around this issue at Women Deliver conferences and other similar events.
Between the pre-conference and the various other events dedicated to the topic of FGM/C, there were a few themes that I feel are important to highlight. First, there was a loud call for additional funding dedicated to FGM/C. This was present in the 2023 Kigali Declaration, a call to action developed as part of the pre-conference event, as well as the #FrontlineEndingFGM movement which calls for an increase in funding to frontline on-the-ground activists. The U.S. End FGM/C Network agrees – we must close these funding gaps if we truly want to end FGM/C.
Next, it was clear that we need more spaces to connect with each other. Ending FGM/C is not an easy goal, and none of us can do it alone. We must stay unified, work together, and remain connected not only in our separate geographic areas but globally as well. One of the highlights of my trip was being able to connect with so many incredible activists from around the world – and I hope for more opportunities to be able to do this. The more that we can strengthen networks, share resources, and join forces, the sooner that we can end FGM/C worldwide.
Attending the Women Deliver 2023 conference was an incredible experience that left me feeling energized and inspired. It was a powerful reminder of the importance of our work to advance the rights of women and girls, and the impact that we can have when we come together with a shared vision for change.
As we move forward from the conference, I am committed to continuing the work of ending FGM/C in the U.S. and globally. I am grateful for the opportunity to have attended the conference and look forward to seeing the progress that we can make in the years to come.