Meetings No 21
Gender Equality the New Growth Factor
Atti Soenarso on the silent knowledge women have built up.
Cover Story
Women Deliver
Focus on the Women Deliver Conference.
Women Leadership
Dubai Women Establishment
A champion for women’s participation.
IMEX Launch
The “She Means Business” event
The Future Disrupted
Rohit Talwar on shocks that could overturn our world.
A Life Remembered
Tim “Avicii” Bergling.
Young Leaders
Gaining Edge Scholars
Learning, contributing and building the future.
Smart Cities
How Does a City Become Smart?
Lessons from Tel Aviv.
Motivating Using the Right Mindset
Scientist Alva Appelgren on praise and learning.
Economic Impact
Regarding Rwanda
Becoming one of Africa’s leading business events destinations.
IMEX Frankfurt
Innovation and Inspiration.
MCI Experience
Kim Myhre: The power of brand experiences.
Johan Hagegård
“The future isn’t at all what it used to be.”
Habits to Build Your Empire
Robin Sharma: Resist the saboteur!
Collaboration is key in winning association meetings.
Brain Check
Cecilia Björkén-Nyberg
On reading printed books and listening to audiobooks.
Why Is It Taken for Granted That I’m the Boss?
Roger Kellerman: More Space to Women!
instant booking is here
Four Major Hotel Companies
Invest in Meetings Venue Tech.
urban transformation
ICC Sydney and Partners
Showcase First State Super Theatre.
increasing priority for travelers
CWT research reveals
business travelers are more health-conscious during trips.
2nd meeting city in UK
Conference & event organisers encouraged
to ‘Make it Edinburgh’ as city strengthens position as UK no.1 for hotel investment & development.
new job
New director appointed for Meet in Reykjavík
- Reykjavík Convention Bureau.
The world’s first carbon-neutral constructed convention centre
- The CCD, attracts European clean electricity conference.
connecting the future
Ocean Science
fuel innovation and conferences in Victoria.
business Intelligence
Sixth consecutive record year:
Vancouver welcomed 10.7 million visitors in 2018.
Baltic Trade Show
returns to Vilnius in 2020.
AEG Ogden
Cairns Convention Centre
expansion great news for region, says CEO.
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Setting the Agenda: Focus on the Women Deliver Conference

Women and girls are the drivers of sustainable development and power agents of change. Evidence from around the world confirms that investing in women and girls creates many effects that yields multiple benefits. Not only for individual women, but also for families, communities, and countries.

But decision-makers have failed to consistently make women and girls a priority. They are deprived of access to health services, confront barriers to education, are vulnerable to gender-based violence and face discrimination in economic and political areas.

The Women Deliver 2019 Conference is the world’s largest meeting on the health, rights, and wellbeing of women and girls. The gathering will serve as a fuelling station for spokespeople working to achieve a more equal world. In the beginning of June over 6,000 world leaders, advocates, academics, influencers, activists and representatives from the media will gather in Vancouver Convention Centre.

The choice of Canada as a location sends a signal to the world: Canada is investing in the rights, health, and wellbeing of women and girls. Or in the words of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: “Prioritizing the health, rights and wellbeing of girls and women is not optional, but in fact, foundational to drive change and progress for all. Canada is proud to host the next Women Deliver Conference to bring us all further in advancing human rights for women.”

The Women Deliver Global Conference was held for the first time in London in 2007 and gathered nearly 2,000 advocates from 115 countries. By then the maternal mortality rate was atrociously high. World leaders needed to step up, rally around the issue and commit to action. And, they needed a place to do it, hence The Women Deliver Conference was born, founded by Jill Sheffield, today President Emeritus. At the time the event was described as a ground-breaking meeting and credited with igniting a movement that was desperately needed.

In 2010, in Washington DC, the organisation highlighted effective solutions to improve maternal, sexual and reproductive health on the global development agenda. Three years later in Kuala Lumpur Women Deliver proved to the world that when you invest in girls and women, it pays. More than 3,400 delegates from 149 countries participated.

Today Women Deliver is recognised as a key player and advocate for gender equality and the health, rights, and wellbeing of girls and women.

When I attended the Women Deliver Conference at Bella Center in Copenhagen two years ago, I met Katja Iversen. She has been the president of the organisation since 2009. A memory that has remained from the event in Copenhagen are two sentences in my note book: “Everything is focused on solutions.”, and “This is a happy conference.”

The organisation have taken a gender lens to the new sustainable development goals. It is like a development framework and identifies 12 very specific investments in women and girls that need to be made. That has driven the conference programme.

The issues Women Deliver work on could pinpoint a million problems, and Katja Iversen and her team could stay immersed in the problems and be depressed by the end of the day. Instead they purposefully decided to focus on solutions because they know what works. All the 115 concurrent sessions plus 20 plenaries during the event in Copenhagen focused on solutions. Two years ago, there were more than 5,700 delegates from 169 countries. Eighty per cent of them were first time attendees.

What made eighty per cent first time attendees to come to Copenhagen? The answer is that the organisation ventured out into new areas. Women Deliver came from a very strong health focus, but this time they focused more on gender equality, including health, but not only health. On the programme were women’s economic empowerment, education, land rights – because the organisation also knew the investment case is more prone to the whole gender equality area. It was relevant to invite others in. If you only treat health as health, we are never going to solve the issues. We can have as many clinics in the world as we want to, but if a woman is not allowed to leave her house, or see a male doctor, it will not work. You have to look at gender norms, equality, and women’s status in society.

Katja Iversen says it is about politics and it is also about money. This is not a health issue alone. It is a development issue, an economic issue and a political empowerment issue. The organisation puts it a little polemically: “Women deliver, and not only babies and water. And there are lot of good men who deliver for women.”

There were a diverse group of participants at the conference in Copenhagen, representing several industries, different issues and geographical regions, and different ages. Twenty per cent of the attendees were young people. The delegates also came from various areas, for example the private sector, academia, government, health services, UN agencies, media and non-governmental associations. The number of entities surpassed 2,500.

Many of us felt overwhelmed by the volume of challenges facing girls and women, and we did not agree on every question. But what we did agree on is that girls and women are the drivers for development. Investing in them not only benefits individuals but creates an effect that powers progress for all. The takeaway from some of the attendees I spoke with was that they left better informed, positive about the progress made, and inspired to take action on girls and women in future.

I overheard a conversation between two young delegates from Nigeria. They were sharing their impressions during a coffee break on the last day. “I think of the conference as an onsite and online fuelling station. We learn from each other and leave with new ideas and inspiration. We are energised to push for ambitious action and refuelled to make change for girls and women everywhere.”

Women Deliver believes that young people should be included and at the centre of the development, implementation, and evaluations of programmes and policies that affect their lives. It happens through collaboration and partnerships with global influencers, multilateral organisations, and youth-led and youth-serving organisations. Women Deliver is elevating and amplifying young people’s voices and perspectives and accelerating their inclusion in decision-making spaces. When young people are involved from start to finish in the decision-making processes that affect their lives, programmes and policies can reflect their needs.

The award-winning Women Deliver Young Leaders Program started in 2010 and is comprised of 400 youth advocates under the age of 30. They represent more than 100 countries. In the beginning of 2018 there were 300 more young leaders scheduled to join the programme. They are supplementing and strengthening their work through, for example, online learning communities, high-level networking, speaking opportunities, and seed grants.

It is interesting to see how an organisation like Women Deliver shapes the global conversation on youth engagement. And how they help increase the visibility of the young leaders by identifying national and global platforms for them to contribute equally to the conversation and share their experiences and expertise.

Deliver for Good is a global campaign, initiated by Women Deliver and partners that applies a gender lens to the Sustainable Development Goals. The evidence-based advocacy campaign calls for enhanced policies, programming, and investments in girls and women.

Deliver for Good, with nearly 300 supporters in over 50 countries, is mobilising followers across sectors and issue areas to redefine the narrative around women and girls. Together they are building a movement to take on concrete action and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals at the global and country levels.

The campaigns’ partners, allies, and supporters are focusing on action across the following 12 investment areas:

Improve maternal and new born health and nutrition.

Meet the demand for modern contraception and reproductive health.

Respect, protect and fulfil sexual health and rights.

Ensure access to comprehensive health services.

Dramatically reduce gender-based violence and harmful practices.

Ensure equitable and quality education at all levels.

Boost women’s economic empowerment.

Strengthen women’s political participation and decision-making power.

Accelerate access to resources – land, clean energy, water and sanitation.

Invest in women to tackle climate change and conserve the environment.

Improve data and accountability for girls and women.

Build sustainable financing and partnerships for girls and women.

Through the Deliver for Good campaign, Women Deliver is highlighting strategies and best practices that emphasise the crucial link between gender equality and broader development goals such as education, eradicating poverty, and adapting to a quickly changing climate. The campaign illustrates the social, economic, and legal injustices girls and women face. But it also recognises their vast, untapped potential, and all that families, communities, and countries stand to gain by eliminating the obstacles that prevent them from realising their potential.

Let’s take a closer look at how to boost women’s economic empowerment according to Women Deliver. Give women a fair opportunity to earn, and they will deliver solutions. Granting them equal space in the formal economy is a victory in the battle against poverty.

Women around the world are resilient and resourceful economic agents, overcoming persistent, gender-based barriers to advance the health, education, and economic survival of their families.

Every day, women demonstrate they can build informal and formal businesses out of very little capital, create networks to maximise limited resources, and shoulder the care-taking responsibilities, which often include cooking, cleaning, and caring for children, the sick, and the elderly. Women succeed in spite of laws, policies, and institutions that hold them back. It is time to create supportive environments for women to thrive economically.

To ensure equitable and quality education at all levels is another of the 12 investment areas. Give girls and women the chance to learn, and they will deliver more equitable, healthy and prosperous societies. In two-thirds of all countries, girls now enrol in primary school at the same rate as boys.

Global statistics mask persistent inequalities that still exist in many parts of the world, where girls are far more likely to be out of school. Hard realities such as poverty, school fees, travel distance, and the absence of menstrual hygiene management facilities at school limit girls’ access to education, especially at the post-primary level. As the development community embraces the new Sustainable Development Goals, improving access to quality education and training opportunities for girls and women needs to be at the forefront of the movement towards gender equality.

Mobile operators are working to support students and teachers in integrating mobile technologies into the classroom. Mobile also enables access to greater learning opportunities for youth in urban hubs and remote locations. Mobile networks are essential in the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals. If another 600 million women had access to the internet, annual GDP could increase by as much as $18 billion across 144 developing countries.

There are many major challenges ahead. The voices of girls and women need to resonate in societies, communities, households and halls of power. Investing in their health, rights, equality and wellbeing will create a wave of progress that will spur growth to the benefit of all.

One of the biggest challenges for Women Deliver is funding. According to Katja Iversen there were more than forty funders for everything in Copenhagen: governments, foundations, private sectors, non-governmental organisations, and it ranges from $5,000 to a lot more.

Forty per cent of the associations budget goes on scholarships for participants from the global south, particularly young people. Prior to the conference Women Deliver had 5,500 applications for 800 scholarships. Many of these young people had never been out of their village, let alone their country – they had to get a passport. The organiser had to tell the applicants they had to travel with $25 per day to get a sandwich and for the local transfers. For some of the delegates to get that, it was almost a month’s salary. In the end they all came to Copenhagen as equals, and some of the solutions that they presented was mind-blowing. Why? They live it every single day, and who knows more about their lives than themselves?

Who in their right mind would throw away fifty per cent of human potential? Give women a fair opportunity to earn, and they will deliver solutions. Granting them equal space in the formal economy is a victory in so many ways. Give girls and women the chance to learn, and they will deliver more equitable, healthy and prosperous societies. Paving the way for more women in the political, business and civic arena is an investment in more just, equitable, and peaceful societies. Girls and women are drivers of development, and critical to the success of the Global Goals. Women are at the economic heart of the developing world. And to do all this work, they need to be healthy.