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Last week, GWL Voices members Helen Clark, Flavia Bustreo, Mary Robinson and Mbaranga Gasarabwe, were in Kigali, Rwanda, to attend the Women Deliver 2023 Conference, the world’s largest conference on girls’ and women’s health, rights, and wellbeing. The event lasted for three days, with over 6,000 feminists gathered in Kigali, plus thousands online, to discuss and share ideas on how to advance gender equality, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and improve the wellbeing of girls and women worldwide. For GWL Voices, these were the three main lessons learned from the event:

1. All global issues affect more women and girls: 

“The world is at a critical juncture for women and girls, from global conflict to the COVID-19 pandemic, to climate change and so much more,” said Michelle Obama during her video to close the Women Deliver 2023 Conference. Studies showed how the pandemic caused more negative effects on women than men, and the same is happening with other issues, such as climate change. These current phenomena challenge society and pose new threats to gender equality and women’s rights. At GWL Voices, we see these challenges and their impact as an urgent call to action to continue working on increasing gender equality.

2. Fixing the multilateral system is critical: 

GWL Voices’ members had the opportunity to present our flagship report, “Women in Multilateralism 2023, Numbers Matter,” and discuss the historical gender inequalities within the international system at the Women Deliver 2023 Conference. The panel, composed of members: Helen Clark, Mary Robinson, Mbaranga Gasarabwe, and Dr. Flavia Bustreo, highlighted the historical and current gaps among over 30 different international organizations.

One of the main topics discussed was the UN General Assembly Presidency, which had seven women nominated in its last election, but none were elected. The panel argued that the international system preaches gender equality yet still upholds the deep-seated biases and systems that have hindered women’s full and equal participation, as Devex’s article summarized.

GWL Voices panel at the Women Deliver 2023 Conference
Her Turn Kigali 2023 led by Mbaranga Gasarabwe

3. Preparing the next generation of women leaders is a must: 

The WEF estimated it would take over 200 years to close all current gender gaps. This means not only that the Sustainable Development Goal N°5 will not be achieved by 2030 if we do not act now but that, most probably, current generations of female leaders will not see the results of the work towards women’s rights and gender equality.

However, it is paramount to start preparing and working with the next generations. GWL Voices did it through a special edition of the program Her Turn in Kigali, Rwanda, during the Women Deliver 2023 Conference. The event was led by GWL Voices’ member, Former Deputy Special Representative for the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), and Resident Coordinador in Mali from 2015 until 2021, Mbaranga Gasarabwe. It was an opportunity to share experiences and concerns about the lack of women’s leadership in international organizations and how we can promote an increase that reflects the number of capable women currently working in multilateralism.

GWL Voices is immensely grateful to have participated in the Women Deliver 2023 Conference in Kigali, Rwanda #WD2023. It was an opportunity to exchange ideas and create synergies to drive women’s leadership across borders.