Coming Together for Equality: A Young Delegate’s Reflections on Women Deliver 2023

Attending the Women Deliver 2023 Conference as a young Canadian delegate was an empowering and exhilarating experience. 

Women Deliver (WD) Conferences are amongst the most significant global gatherings for gender equality. The WD2023 Conference, held in Kigali, Rwanda, was the first time that Women Deliver has held its triennial gathering in the Global South. This particular event drew in over 5000 global leaders, advocates, activists and changemakers from around the world who are passionate about advancing gender equality and improving the lives of women and girls.

As a young Canadian delegate passionate about gender equality, attending the WD2023 Conference allowed me to engage with experts from various sectors, forge meaningful connections, and learn from the best practices and success stories shared by individuals and organizations around the globe. 

I was pleasantly surprised with the number of youth, particularly from the Global South, present on panels, plenaries, side events and concurrent events during the conference. From a young female poet of colour opening the conference to young female vocalists closing the meeting, WD2023 truly leveraged the opportunity to ensure that this momentous celebration gave opportunities and voices to young people.

One of my takeaways from the WD2023 conference is that gender equality is everyone’s responsibility. Gender equality requires a multisectoral approach, and civil society and young people must be at the centre of this work. As civil society organizations are vital catalysts for gender equality, international meetings such as Women Deliver should provide spaces for grassroots organizations and NGOs to congregate and share challenges, successes and best practices.

Canada has made significant strides toward gender equality, including announcing funding for women and girls’ health and rights at the Women Deliver 2023 Conference. However, our nation still has much work to do to achieve gender equality, such as ending gender-based violence and improving the sexual and reproductive health rights of underserved women and girls – by developing partnerships and advancing leadership for this work both in Canada and around the world. 

Canadian civil society (CSO) showing up to gatherings such as Women Deliver is a powerful statement that our nation and the people that encompass it are committed to enhancing the well-being of women and girls globally. Canadian representation at these meetings demonstrates that we are ready to learn alongside our global partners and ensure Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 – Gender Equality–  becomes a reality.

Moreover, creating spaces for Canadian delegates to convene at these international meetings helps to build connections and further drives the momentum to improve gender equality in the Canadian landscape. For example, the Canadian reception held by the Canadian Partnership for Women and Children’s Health (CanWaCH) offered an evening to foster collaboration and partnerships with individuals and civil society across the nation, ignite innovation and drive tangible change.

Ultimately, Women Deliver has made me excited about the future. Hearing governments around the world make commitments to advance the rights of women and girls, while also learning about the relentless activism of civil society and grassroots activists across the globe has made me hopeful that change is not only possible but imminent.

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August 21, 2023


Aditi Sivakumar