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Youth inspired to share ideas, question experts, hold leaders accountable, and create change

Young people from all over the globe have been inspired by the Women Deliver 2023 Conference to share their ideas on how to solve problems, question experts where they identify a gap, and hold leaders accountable.

Women Deliver started from the 17th to the 20th of July in Kigali and online for the virtual conference. It was a gathering of changemakers, policymakers, and activists committed to advancing the rights and well-being of women, girls, and the LGBTQIA+ community worldwide.

The conference offered many sessions, workshops, and networking opportunities, ensuring a fulfilling and enriching experience for all attendees. Women Deliver aimed to break barriers, address challenges, and identify opportunities to advance gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) – and improve the overall well-being of girls and women.

“Our national success is rooted in the belief that progress can only be achieved when women are at the forefront of decision-making development and transformation.” – Jeannette Bayisenge

This year’s theme was Spaces, Solidarity, and Solutions. The conference has 300 speakers, 300 partners, and 6000 delegates in all. Among the majority were young leaders and activists who in demanded to be heard and who demanded change in various sectors.

These young people were encouraged to take their learnings and run with them since the fight is not just stopping with the conference but that it continues beyond.

Dr. Maliha Khan, the CEO and president of Women Deliver said that the mission does not end here. She said, “Take this high you are feeling and go forward we have to keep this with and have the energy to go change the world because I know we can.”

Dr Maliha Khan says change is possible

Young people who attended the conference believe that they can make a change in this world. Seema Kumari who came all the way from India for the conference said in our conversation that she wants her impact to be through education.

She said, “One person can’t really change the world, but one person can start the change. For me, the next step is to act on it and work towards girls’ education in India.”

The conference was an opportunity for young people to reflect on their roles in society in general as young leaders and agents of change.

Young leaders can transform the world

Mi Rae Han from New Zealand who was originally from South Korea says the sessions encouraged her to reflect on her role as a young woman in the fight against gender equity.

She said, “My biggest takeaway from one of, well, all the sessions really, is that the fight for gender equality is hard. And you can see, even in spaces like this, the fight has been tiring, but it’s also been worth it.”

“Sometimes I ask myself as a young person, what can I do in this fight? And some encouragement I received at this conference was, the greatest power I can give to this fight is to myself completely.”

She says that young people should leverage this time, their youthful energy to create change and impact the world however they can.

She said, “It is so scary, but it’s also so exciting. We have this time to figure out ourselves and figure out our place in the world. And we also have this time to build up a support system around us that encourages us to be who we want to be.”

Solidarity can offer solutions

Henaka Rallage Chiranthi from Sri Lanka and a Women Deliver Young Leader of 2020 and a member of the Youth Planning Committee for this particular conference says young leaders should create sustainable partnerships among themselves to create sustainable impact.

She says, “As young leaders, we tend to be very sort of possessive and territorial of areas that we’re passionate about. Like if someone works in gender, they’re very gender-focused. If someone works in climate, very focused on climate.”

Chiranthi stressed the crucial role of youth leadership in transforming development systems and approaches, underlining the need for localization and collaboration to foster sustainable partnerships.

She said, “I invite all young people to recognize that we have come so far in understanding our own agency and understanding our role, but we do need to go a step further and realize that sustainable partnerships are the way to go forward.”

Chiranthi believes youth leadership should be mainstreamed at all levels, in policy and systemic levels, in local government levels, as well as community development levels
Solidarity among women is crucial for transformation
Seema Kumari from India
Mi Rae Han from New Zealand

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