Women Deliver 2016

The fourth Women Deliver Conference took place in Copenhagen last week, opened by its CEO Katja Iverson. Iverson spoke to the 6,000 attendees, calling them to action and highlighting, “not if, not why, but how" the international community can work to promote the interests of women globally.

In 2007, when the conference first opened in London, political leaders were still to unite and galvanise efforts to address the ongoing problem of shockingly high maternal mortality rates.  The conference, which fell on 20th anniversary of the Safe Motherhood Initiative, brought together, for the first time, key players in development and government and gave a fresh impetus to the push for meaningful investment in  maternal and newborn health. In demonstrating the necessity of post-natal health to the economic growth and strong social fabric of developing nations, governments committed funds and a neglected issue gained global attention.  

Washington D.C.’s Women Deliver 2010 built on the success of the London Conference, followed by Kuala Lumper’s conference followed in 2013.  At the heart of these conferences is the belief that, “when the world invests in girls and women, we all win.”

In bringing together young and old, political, private sector and civil society leaders, as well as policymakers, journalists and researchers, the conference has changed the landscape of international development and re-orientated the focus of development efforts towards women and girls. 


FGM was one of the key issues on the agenda at this year’s conference. Globally 200 million women have been subjected to FGM and millions of girls are currently at risk. The work to end FGM has gained real traction in recent years, with many of the 28 African countries where FGM rates are above 40% adopting a zero tolerance approach. The words of Crown Princess Mary of Denmark resonated last week when she said of child marriage and female genital mutilation, amongst other issues, “less bad is never good enough,” a response universally applicable to all topics covered at the conference.

FGM is already top of the minds of the development community, being framed as a global indicator for Goal 5 (Gender Equality) of the Sustainable Development Goals, adopted last year. The conference’s opening day kicked off with announcement of the launch of new World Health Organisation guidelines for improving healthcare for those who have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM).


The recommendations focus on preventing the practice of FGM, and better supporting those who have been cut. Better support under the WHO guidelines includes treating obstetric complications, depression and anxiety resulting from FGM and offering sexual health counselling to women. The guidelines also contain guidance for health practitioners when approached by parents to carry out FGM.

The Guidelines received a great deal of support at the conference, "the new WHO guidelines were a vital part of the solution to ending FGM globally. Survivors need to be supported medically with deinfibulations and given the psychological and emotional support they need," stated Equality Now.

Like many of the issues championed by Women Deliver, funding is key to the fight to end FGM. In 2014, the UK led the way in this area when the Department for International Development announced its first-ever dedicated programme to end FGM, with a groundbreaking £35 million budget. At the Women Deliver Conference, the Danish Government committed $10 million to its project AmplifyChange, which aims to end FGM and Child Marriage.


Women Deliver 2016 aimed to be a “fuelling station where – onsite and online – we will learn from each other and leave with new ideas and inspiration, energized to push for ambitious action.” We believe it achieved its aim in inspiring, energizing and re-fuelling us in the continued push to promote the rights of women and girls around the world.

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Photo Credit: Liselotte Sabroe/AFP/Getty Images