Reflections from 2019 Women Deliver Conference

Kristina Reshetova • 17 June 2019

   The 2019 Women Deliver Conference is the largest conference on gender equality and health, rights and wellbeing of girls and women. It is a global platform where everyone can join the fight for gender equality, celebrate what is working and figure out how to proceed further. This year’s conference took place in Vancouver, Canada, from June 3-6, 2019 and revolved around the theme “Power. Progress. Change.” The event convened world leaders, influencers, academics, advocates, journalists and activists, more than 8000 people in total, from 165 countries. The conference featured around 250 different panels, workshops, film screenings and sessions, providing the attendants with countless opportunities to gain inspiration, network and ultimately contribute towards the achievement of a more gender equal world.

   The conference was held in Canada because of various reasons. First of all, Canada has been one of the world leaders in reducing inequality since the introduction of the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In addition to this, the conference was hosted on the traditional and ancestral territory of the Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam, Squamish Nations people in Vancouver, which is also notable for its third largest population of indigenous people. Prior to the conference, the region’s indigenous women sang the “Good Women” song in their native language to welcome all good women to their lands.

   This magical performance was followed by a welcoming speech delivered by the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. Justin Trudeau assured the attendants that Canadian leadership in tackling gender inequality is not going anywhere and that Canada will always be there as a partner for others. Moreover, he promised that Canada will continue to demand for women and men to receive equal pay for work of equal value, that everyone has a safe place to live and that both parents can share the joys and responsibilities of raising children.

"Women Deliver 2019 is a chance for all of us to come together, step up, and do our part to make gender equality a reality."- Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada during the opening ceremony of Women Deliver 2019 in Vancouver, Canada


   After this, Katja Iversen, the CEO of Women Deliver, gave her opening speech where she stressed that Women Deliver is much more than just a conference, it is an unstoppable movement. Katja Iversen also calls upon the world to invest in gender equality, because “if we do so everyone will win”.

   With many smiling faces, encouraging speeches, music and dances, the atmosphere was truly inspiring during this 4- day conference. In addition to this, the younger generations were also present and, more importantly, were provided with the opportunity to raise their voices and share their thoughts.

   The high-level panel was held on June 3, 2019, where the heads of Ghana, Canada, Ethiopia and Kenya together with some activists discussed the state of gender equality in their countries. While it was noted that there was still much to be done in achieving gender equality worldwide, we also witnessed the positive shifts, such as 9 countries with gender-balanced cabinets and this number is expected to grow by 25 in the next year. The African countries, once again, have shown the greatest promise for the future.

   One remarkable thing about the conference was the fact that everyone was asked the same questions, namely: “When you go back to your country, how will you use your power?” The answers from the attendants varied from “I will do everything in my power to raise my son a feminist” to more global ones.


   On the final day of the conference, every person had the opportunity to reflect on their take-aways from the event. One of the speakers concluded: “Let’s be realistic. You should not think you are doing a great job because you have a lot of women in your program”.

   Once again, the conference proved to be a successful platform for debates, dialogues, partnerships and new ideas that drive the agenda forward. While there is still a long way ahead, we can be sure that as long as women of all nationalities and ages are given a voice - we are on the right track.

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Photo credit: Women Deliver


The views expressed in this blog are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the SDG Philanthropy Platform. The SDG Philanthropy Platform is a global initiative that connects philanthropy with knowledge and networks that can deepen collaboration, leverage resources and sustain impact, driving SDG delivery within national development planning. It is led by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA), and supported by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Ford Foundation, Oak Foundation, Brach Family Charitable Foundation, and many others.