The 6th edition of the Women Deliver Conference, the first held in Africa, opened in Kigali, bringing together over 6,000 participants, including Heads of State and Government, policymakers, civil society, and researchers to discuss inclusive and co-created spaces that foster solidarity for sustainable solutions on gender equality.
President Paul Kagame graced the opening ceremony alongside President Macky Sall of Senegal, President Katalin Novák of Hungary, and President Sahle-Work Zewde of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, former heads of state and government, as well as the heads of international organizations.
In his opening address, President Kagame stressed the need for concrete actions in fast-tracking gender equality.
“In recent decades, there have been meaningful results in closing the gap between women and men, in terms of opportunity and achievement. Still, across the globe, women remain vulnerable to various forms of injustice. We must challenge ourselves to do things differently, and with a sense of urgency. (…) Commitments which are not followed by action, cannot fulfill our promise to build a more just, equitable, and prosperous future for the generations that follow us.” Read the full speech here.
Other speakers echoed the need for concerted global efforts to sustain the progress in promoting gender equality.
Dr. Sima Bahous, UN Women Executive Director noted:
“We see it [inspiration] in the number of women in legislative positions that have doubled in a generation, in reduced global maternal mortality and in women’s increased life expectancy. 155 countries now have laws on domestic violence. 140 countries have legislation on sexual harassment at work place. These are all to be celebrated. And what a better place to celebrate them than here in Rwanda, a country ranked among the top 10 in the world for promoting gender equality. Congratulations!!”
Phumzile Mlambo, Women Deliver Board Chair said:
“Over the past two to three decades, we have made enormous progress in gender equality. We are here to share the progress that we have made, and the losses that we have made. We have solutions, we have evidence, we have actions and lessons that we can share with each other so that we strengthen ourselves as we move forward. The solutions we need are political, social and economic. We have to make sure that our momentum becomes unstoppable”.
Also at the opening ceremony, Excellencies Presidents Macky Sall, Katalin Novák, and Sahle-Work Zewde, alongside Dr. Natalia Kanem, UNFPA Executive Director, and Shabana Basij-Rasikh, Founder, SOLA Afghan, participated in a high-level panel discussion on the state of gender equality globally. You can follow the panel discussion here.
Prior to the Women Deliver 2023 opening ceremony, two important side events were held: the UNFPAPre- Conference on bodily autonomy attended by First Lady Jeannette Kagame (see remarks here) and the Ministerial Forum for Ministers in charge of Gender, hosted by Minister Prof. Jeannette Bayisenge.
The four day conference will have 10 plenaries, 75 concurrent sessions, 12 skills-building workshops, 11 pre-conferences, 200 side events, 240 exhibition spaces, 55 Global Dialogue events, and 9 Regional Convening Partner events.