Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Authors / Biography

Jill Sheffield

Title Founder and President
Organization Women Deliver

Jill Sheffield is a global educator and advocate who has worked to promote women’s health and rights around the world for more than three decades. Sheffield is the founder and President of Women Deliver, an international advocacy organization that convenes global leaders to galvanize action on maternal health and women’s empowerment.

The first Women Deliver conference occurred in London in October 2007, and was credited with putting Millennium Development Goal 5 (MDG5) on the international agenda. The second Women Deliver conference (June 7-9, 2010), in Washington, DC, convened more than 3,400 policymakers, activists, business leaders, and public figures from around the world.

Sheffield’s commitment to women’s reproductive rights in developing countries was inspired while volunteering for a family planning clinic at the Pumwani Maternity Hospital in Kenya in the mid-1960s, where she initially worked as a teacher. At that time, while the feminist movement was flourishing at home in the USA, the Kenyan women she met through the clinic were legally barred from using contraception without their husbands’ permission. This inequity became the driving force in Sheffield’s transition from teaching to a global crusader for women’s reproductive rights.

In 1987, Sheffield co-founded Family Care International (FCI), a non-profit global organization committed to improving the maternal health of women in the world’s poorest nations; she served as the organization’s President of for more than 20 years. Sheffield and FCI played an integral role in leading the Safe Motherhood Initiative, also launched in 1987, which helped guide global efforts to improve maternal health over the past two decades.

Prior to founding FCI, Sheffield served as Executive Officer for the International Program of Carnegie Corporation of New York, and as Africa Regional Representative and Director of Programs for Latin America for World Education. She has held board and advisory positions for the International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region, Population Communications International, Global Fund for Women, and Center for Health and Social Policy. Most recently, Sheffield was one of few civil society representatives to serve as a Commissioner to support the efforts of the UN Secretary General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health.

She is also the founder of Family Care International (FCI), a distinguished non-governmental organization and winner of the 2008 United Nations Population Award for outstanding work in sexual and reproductive health and rights. Sheffield received her MA in Comparative and International Education from Columbia University, where she was later recognized as a distinguished alumna for her international work in women's health and education, and she also received the American Public Health Association's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.

Posts By Jill Sheffield

Mobile Phones for Women's Empowerment

This boom in mobile technology offers an incredible opportunity to provide historically marginalized groups, such as girls and women, with increased access to information and education to improve their health and wellbeing.

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On Day of the Girl, Catapult Launches To Create Lasting Change for Girls and Women

Today, Women Deliver is launching Catapult, a new online funding platform that aims to bring resources to organizations around the world that work to improve the health and well-being of girls and women everywhere.

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Family planning is Key to a Sustainable World

If all women had the means to space the births of their children by three years, deaths of children under-five would decrease by 35 percent – saving nearly a million children’s lives.

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Understanding the Girl Effect

The ability to choose if and when to have children is a huge piece of the puzzle to the “Girl Effect,” but it is not the only piece.

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