The sound of “Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves” (more on the Eurythmics below) subsided as over 5,000 people from all over the world shuffled into the main plenary hall at Copenhagen’s Bella Center. Women Deliver President Jill Sheffield took the stage, welcomed the crowd and introduced the first speaker. The fourth Women Deliver conference was underway.
DSW at Women Deliver – our daily diary
Starting today, and for the rest of the week, DSW will be blogging from Women Deliver’s fourth global conference, taking place in Copenhagen from 16-19 May 2016. The conference will be the largest gathering on girls’ and women’s health, rights, and wellbeing in more than a decade, and one of the first major global conferences following the launch of the SDGs.
We are in Copenhagen with boots on the ground, talking to leading figures in the world of SRHR and women’s rights, reporting on interesting and upcoming developments in the field of gender equality, and working with others to chart a way forward to implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We hope to be able to post some interesting audio interviews, arresting photos and a selection of the most interesting tweets of the day.
Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark – “Less bad is never good enough”
The musical choice for the opening plenary session was apt for a week-long gathering that will focus on how to implement the SDGs so they matter most for girls and women, with a specific focus on health – in particular maternal, sexual, and reproductive health and rights – and on gender equality, education, environment, and economic empowerment.
As with conferences of this sort, the opening event wheeled out the big beasts of development to set the scene for the rest of the week’s activities.
Refreshingly – and this was the consensus of many of the people I spoke to afterwards – it done not take the rote format of successive talking heads. The exceptions to this were the opening interventions of Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark and Danish Prime Minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen.
"less bad is never good enough" when it comes to improving the lives of girls – Princess Mary of Denmark #WD2016
— DSW – International (@dsw_intl) May 16, 2016
Each highlighted the key areas the Women Deliver conference would address throughout the week. Princess Mary’s words particularly resonated with the room when she argued that, when improving girls lives, “Less bad is never good enough”. Moderator of the subsequent discussion, editor & journalist Barkha Dutt, brought powerful testament to the hall in telling the story of the incident early in her career in rural India that revealed to her the full horror and brutal reality of early and forced marriage, setting her on a path to advocate for gender equality.
Universal access to SRHR
Sexual and reproductive health and rights got their day in the sun as well – Women Deliver CEO Katja Iversen talked about the impact her grandmother’s life had on her, and both Margaret Chan and Babatunde Osotimehin used the platform to call for universal access to sexual and reproductive health services for all girls and women. Annie Lennox bristled with energy in her interventions, and exhorted all those in the crowd who identified as feminists to stand. You can probably work out for yourselves how many people stayed seated (and pointing no fingers) – not exactly a tough crowd!
Margaret Chan: "We must promote universal access to sexual and reproductive health services for all girls and women" #WD2016
— DSW – International (@dsw_intl) May 16, 2016
Early mornings beckon
The full scale of Women Deliver really hits when the opening session ends and disgorges the crowd into the reception area outside. 5,000 plus people is BIG. It is clearly a massive undertaking. Knowing a few at the organisation that have been working on the conference for a long time now, I am sure that all at Women Deliver will be delighted to have finally got the conference started.
Monday afternoon’s event was more a precursor to the main activities that get underway tomorrow. And what will the rest of the week bring? Early mornings (thank you everyone who scheduled their meetings at 6.30a.m. Yes, a.m.), lots of events and meetings to take in, even more that I will not be able to get to, and hopefully some interesting conversations with people milling around.
My day ended as a lugged my Women Deliver swag bag onto the bus back into the centre of town and towards a bowl of ramen noodles. As a rummaged around my bag to see what was inside, the speeches of Princess Mary and Prime Minister Rasmussen looped on small TV screen above the bus driver’s cabin. Even if it was only the transport company’s newsfeed, Women Deliver was starting to make a splash in Copenhagen.
Our favourite tweets of #WD2016 – day 1
— Babatunde Osotimehin (@BabatundeUNFPA) May 16, 2016
A mom will spend 80% of what they have to educate, feed & support their child. Empowering women changes the landscape. – Mark Dybul #WD2016
— UN Foundation (@unfoundation) May 16, 2016
— Girl Up (@GirlUp) May 16, 2016
— UNFPA (@UNFPA) May 16, 2016
— Jhpiego (@Jhpiego) May 16, 2016
— Women Deliver (@WomenDeliver) May 16, 2016
— Plan International (@PlanGlobal) May 16, 2016
— Lindsay MF (@lindsmf) May 16, 2016
— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) May 16, 2016